Responding to cybersecurity incidents promptly and thoroughly is crucial to minimizing damage and recovering. The eradication phase is the first step in returning a compromised environment to its proper state. Robust incident management is critical to managing cybersecurity incidents and mitigating potential damage to sensitive data and digital assets. Read this guide to learn essential eradication best practices to ensure a thorough recovery from cybersecurity incidents.
The Eradication Phase of Incident Response
Eradication is a critical phase in the incident response process. Thorough recovery from security incidents requires the full removal of any malicious code or other threats that were introduced to the environment during the incident. This is the purpose of the eradication phase.
But while eliminating threats may seem like the most obvious response to an incident, eradication is one of many necessary phases in an effective incident response program.
Incident Response Process Phases
Security programs are designed to meet the unique needs of each organization, so the exact phases of incident response may differ slightly from one security program to the next. But the incident response is usually broken down into seven phases. These phases include:
- Preparation – Function with the expectation that an incident will eventually occur and prepare accordingly. Define roles, delegate tasks, and create a plan for responding to different levels of incidents so that everyone knows what to do before one happens.
- Detection – Define and implement measures to detect threats so they can be identified and prioritized appropriately.
- Containment – Quarantine any threats identified during the detection phase to mitigate the impact on the environment.
- Investigation – Once the threat has been contained, find and document the cause of the incident.
- Eradication – Remove any malware or other threats that were introduced to the environment in order of priority.
- Recovery – Do any necessary data and asset recovery to restore systems and assets to their pre-incident state.
- Follow-up – Review the impact of the incident and the results of the response process, and consider whether any improvements are needed to be better prepared for future incident response.
Depending on the severity of the incident, the eradication phase could be very straightforward, or it could require an extensive process to remove all threats from the system.
What to Consider During the Eradication Phase
Consider the following points during eradication to ensure threats are thoroughly eliminated:
- Results of investigation – The investigation phase uncovers information about the nature of the threats that have been detected and what vulnerabilities led to the incident. Use details about the threats that have been found to determine the best way to remove them.
- Threat risk levels – After threats have been detected and prioritized, address and remove them in order of how much risk they pose to your organization’s IT environment. Some threats may not be able to be safely left in quarantine, so be sure to eliminate any high-risk threats immediately.
- Options for eradication – Some malware may be removed automatically by scanning tools, while other threats require manual intervention. Consider the most efficient options for eradicating each detected threat to streamline this phase of the incident response process.
- Potential service interruptions – Determine whether eradication will limit access to systems or services and notify personnel so they’ll know how their tasks may be affected.
- Best practices – Follow security best practices to prevent any damage during the eradication phase.
Another critical consideration, if varied, is what exactly constitutes eradication—what the area protected includes and where exactly malicious code needs to be removed from, to what extent.
How to Remove Threats During the Eradication Phase of Incident Response
After identifying and analyzing the threats during the other incident phases, complete removal of those threats from your systems and periphery is the critical goal of the eradication phase.
To do so, choose the eradication approach that is most appropriate for the threat, such as:
- Automated removal – If any minor threats can be removed by anti-malware tools, let the software remove them and focus on higher priority threats.
- Reimaging systems – Wipe systems and reimage them to ensure any malware is removed.
- Applying patches – Patch vulnerabilities that may have facilitated attacks or been introduced by threats detected within the environment.
- Migrating resources – Consider removing resources that weren’t affected during the incident to new systems to ensure they remain unaffected throughout the rest of the incident response process.
After all identified threats have been eradicated from your organization’s IT environment, any additional recovery steps can be taken to restore the environment to normal. After full recovery from the incident, review the incident, response, and your organization’s security policy to see what can be improved.
Thoroughly Eradicate Threats After Incidents
All incident response process phases are significant in an effective incident response plan. The eradication phase is crucial to resecuring your organization’s environment and getting things back to normal. RSI Security’s incident management experts will help your organization optimize its eradication incident response to mitigate the damage of attacks.
Contact RSI Security today to learn more about effective threat eradication.