Cyber security incident response planning (CSIRP) represents the brunt of an organization’s preparation prior to a cyberattack or incident occurring. Organizations can never know which type of cyberthreat they’re going to encounter next, or when it will take place. Thus, it’s vital to assemble an action plan or a roadmap for any and all possible events.
This is where cyber security incident response planning comes in.
Developing Your Plan
Cyber incident response planning clarifies individual roles, organizational policies, and industry standards when responding to a cybersecurity incident. Typically prepared and developed by senior-level IT security leaders, it’s a formal document that serves as instructions for incident response, planning, and ongoing management.
In this guide, we’ll break down how to create and maintain a customized plan that addresses potential threats, current risks, and ongoing issues through the following lenses:
- Common cybersecurity threats – Understanding the most common threats helps you build a strong foundation of cybersecurity and network protection.
- Steps to take in cyber security incident response planning – For best results, a multi-phased approach is recommended.
- Addressing current or ongoing issues – Incident response planning isn’t just a way of preventing threats. Learn how you can use it to respond to current and ongoing issues.
Common Cybersecurity Threats
With myriad online threats facing organizations today, it’s virtually impossible to protect against every single one. Luckily, the majority of attacks fall under one of several broad categories.
Not to be mistaken for other types of malicious software, viruses function in a very specific manner. While they do have the ability to self-replicate, ultimately letting them pass from system to system, most viruses focus on attaching themselves to a software-based program. Once achieved, it’s free to alter or damage the file—and in some cases, other files—as it pleases.
Thankfully, most viruses are easily mitigated with modern antivirus software. When designing your CSIRP, make sure to consider antivirus protection as one of your topmost priorities.
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Malware, Spyware, and Ransomware
A catch-all term that includes specific programs like spyware and ransomware, malicious software, often known as malware, is a growing concern for networks across the globe.
Spyware is one of the most common types of malware used today. It resides in the background of your system, where it attempts to collect data and transmit it back to a hacker or criminal. This information could be login credentials, including usernames and passwords, or in the case of enterprise organizations, the personal information of users or employees (e.g., financial information, social security numbers, or addresses).
Ransomware is a disturbing new trend that uses a particular type of malware to effectively encrypt the contents of the infected system. Once encrypted, authorized users are locked out and unable to access the device. The hacker will also request a ransom, usually payable via cryptocurrency. The most nefarious aspect of this type of software is that it’s never guaranteed that they’ll hold up their end of the bargain and unlock the system once paid.
In a phishing attack, the hacker or criminal attempts to solicit certain information by sending fraudulent emails and impersonating a legitimate organization or individual. These attacks can be especially difficult to spot, as they exploit the recipient’s natural trust.
Experts reported a 350% rise in phishing websites in 2020 alone. In these scenarios, the URL attempts to mimic a genuine website and trick unsuspecting visitors into entering their login credentials. Once entered, the credentials are then transmitted back to the original hacker or criminal who can use the valid login information on the real website.
When engaging in cyber security incident response planning, your best defense against phishing attacks revolves around employee education. Teaching your staff about common dangers and tricks like this will help protect them from falling victim to easily avoidable scams.
Organizations around the world are currently experiencing a 595% year-over-year increase in denial-of-service attacks. Meant to disrupt day-to-day operations, these attacks can be devastating to your daily productivity and profitability.
There are multiple strategies for overcoming denial-of-service attacks, including increasing your bandwidth, implementing server-level protection, or switching to a cloud-based network.
Steps to Take in Cyber Security Incident Response Planning
Most cyber incident response plans are split into multiple phases. This provides a clear start and finish to each step while giving you the opportunity to assign teams to the various phases simultaneously. Given the importance of cybersecurity, it’s essential that you have a comprehensive CSIRP in place at launch.
Although the exact number of steps isn’t important, the actions taken during each phase are typically as follows:
- Initial preparation and asset identification – The beginning of your CSIRP, this is where everybody’s roles are defined and rules are established. Asset and resource identification is a critical component of the preparation phase, as this tells you exactly what assets you need to protect from external risks and threats. Finally, you’ll establish regulatory standards, access control, and the overall chain of command.
- Threat detection and risk assessment – This phase is all about network monitoring, alerts, and notifications. Automated scanning and threat detection can save a lot of time and hassle, as do automated alerts and notifications, but this phase also gives you the opportunity to conduct hands-on analyses and assessments of your overall network.
- Incident response – Now it’s time to respond to any actual threats. With a little luck, you might be able to skip this phase for now. However, incident response is a continuous process that is never truly complete. With new risks and threats emerging every day, your team needs to respond at a moment’s notice.
- System and asset recovery – Recovery tends to take multiple forms. Depending on which systems were compromised, you might need to change user credentials, restore critical files, or rebuild entire databases during this phase. You’ll also gather data and begin creating reports to use in the final phase.
- Follow-up, training, and continuous learning – Use your final phase as a general follow-up period. Take this time to review any reports and audits. If necessary, offer training and continuous learning opportunities to your staff. Although this phase is meant to wrap everything up, it can be useful when trying to bolster your security to protect against future threats, too.
Address Current and Ongoing Issues
Cyber security incident response planning focuses on the processes and actions taken before an incident occurs. But even the best cyber incident response plans can go awry. Unexpected threats and simple user errors do occur, so it’s important that your CSIRP addresses current and ongoing issues, too.
Use a modified version of your CSIRP to tackle current or ongoing incidents. You can skip the second phase of threat detection and risk assessment as you already know what threats you’re facing. With fewer steps to take, you’ll be able to implement a quick and straightforward solution.
It’s vital to establish a clear chain of command as soon as possible. Once individual roles are established, delegate the responsibilities of incident response and system recovery as needed. If necessary, you might be able to revert your system to a pre-incident state.
When responding to current and ongoing threats, don’t skip the follow-up stage. This is a key part of your CSIRP, as it prevents similar issues from occurring in the future while giving staff the opportunity to learn from any mistakes they’ve made throughout the process.
Planning for Incidents Before They Happen with RSI Security
With the proliferation of cybersecurity events and risk factors, nearly every organization will have to deal with an incident at some point in their maturity. If you have yet to begin your cyber security incident response planning, or if you want to expand on your current plan to cover all potential threats and risks, contact RSI Security today.