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When revenue, customer trust, and reputation is at stake, it is essential that a firm has the ability to recognize and respond to security incidents and events. Irrespective of the magnitude of a breach, firms must have an incident response plan to alleviate the risks of being a casualty of a cyberattack. IBM’s most recent study claims that the average cost of a security breach soared by approximately 12% in the past five years and foresees the present average cost of a security breach at $4 million. 

Also, it takes on an average almost 279 days to identify and control a security breach. This implies that hackers have enough time to gain access to sensitive information, watch the activity ensue and also initiate further attacks. These vulnerabilities call for businesses to have a proper incident response (IR) plan to outline a firm’s response to security incidents. A strong incident response plan involves protecting digital assets against cyberattacks as well as having a contingency plan in place for the inevitable

According to a survey conducted in 2019 by the UK government, only 16% of all firms in the UK have a robust incident management plans in place. Another study by the Ponemon Institute on large firms found that close to 77% of them still do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan and this is risking a potential catastrophe.

 

What is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is a set of guidelines to help IT staff identify, respond to, and recoup from network security breaches. Such plans address matters like data loss, service outages, and cybercrime that jeopardize daily work. The plan includes certain directions for certain attack situations, sidestepping further loss, alleviating cybersecurity risk, and lowering recovery time.

Incident response plans emphasize on preparing for security breaches and helping firms recuperate from them. Without a proper IR plan in place, firms may not identify attacks or may not realize what to do to control, clean up and thwart attacks when discovered.

Even minor incidents, such as a malware bug can snowball into larger problems that eventually lead to data infringements, disrupted business operations, and data loss. An appropriate incident response process lets your firm curtail losses, fix exploitable susceptibilities, and reestablish affected processes and systems. Incident response comprises groundwork for known and unknown cyber threats, identifying root causes of security breaches and coming up with a post-event disaster recovery plan. It lets firms establish best practices for incident management and build a communication plan that may entail informing law enforcement, staff, and employees.

Why is an Incident Response Plan Critical to Maintain Business Continuity?

If a network has not been compromised yet, it will be. Whether a threat is virtual or physical, losing functionality or data can be debilitating. A disaster recovery plan helps alleviate risk and prepare for a series of events that may happen in the future. Recovery plans can reduce the duration and cost of security incidents, recognize stakeholders, reorganize digital forensics, lower recovery time, and reduce customer churn and negative publicity.

The cost of a data breach on an average is $3.6 million as per the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study. For example, the Home Depot breach, involving over 65 million customer credit and debit card accounts had an overall breach cost of $62 million. Over 100 million customer records were exposed and triggered a 10% drop in stock price after the Target data breach.

Incident response is a key component of averting future incidents and running a firm that handles sensitive data such as Protected Health Information (PHI), biometrics or Personally Recognizable Information (PII). Each security event can have a long-term or short-term impact on business.

Beyond the cost, customer loyalty, brand protection, and business continuity are huge concerns, particularly as firms progressively rely on third-party vendors. While it is impossible to eliminate all security concerns, a potent incident response process can alleviate the largest cybersecurity risks.

Who is Responsible for Developing an Incident Response Plan?

Businesses must establish a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) who is in charge for evaluating, classifying, and reacting to security breaches.

Incident response teams must have the following members:

Security experts must aid and work directly with affected resources and execute and maintain operational and technical controls.

Incident response administrator must supervise and prioritize actions during discovery, control, and recovery of an event. They must also deliver high-severity breaches to the rest of the firm, regulations, law enforcement, customers, and the public wherever it is applicable.

Threat investigators offer threat intelligence and perspective around security breaches. They use third-party tools and the internet to identify current and future risks. Firms often outsource this task if the expertise is not available in-house.

That said, efficient incident response depends on cross-functional incident response team members from all sections of the business. Without stakeholders from legal, senior leadership, human resources, public relations, and IT security, incident response teams will be ineffectual.

How an Incident Response Plan Must be Developed ?

A potent IR plan must guide personnel at all levels in handling a possible security incident in a manner that supports swift and thorough response actions. For all businesses, and particularly those with large exposure to data burden, response plans must be viewed as an essential part of the Written Information Security Plan (WISP) and must have the following components:

A dedicated internal team: s Businesses with substantial protected information must properly form a breach assessment and response team to monitor the business's actions in the wake of a breach of confidential data. The team’s size should depend on the physical reach, complexity, and data loss exposure of the firm.

Identification of external data security resources: Security incidents can get out of control before the firm can recognize, meet, and appoint the experts required to help the firm fulfil breach-related commitments and reduce liability. An effective response plan will discover external resources, offer full contact details, and bring in a backup person in case of unavailability.

Distinguish infringements: A robust response plan will have adequate flexibility to create a suitable and efficient process for different categories of incidents. For instance, while small incidents can be left to the judgment of the WISP manager, others may need consultation with the entire response team. Also, different persons must be on a team depending on the magnitude of the incident.

Build an action item checklist: Well-crafted response plans for larger firms must have a checklist of select action items to be finalized as soon as the firm learns of a possible major data breach.

Track crucial breach-related rights, obligations, and deadlines: While any well-crafted WISP must identify the important legal obligations, the firm must fulfil all deadlines for reporting or responding to possible breaches.

Review and revise the response plan on a regular basis: A response plan must be consistently re-examined and updated at least once each year and more often for larger firms.

Assessing Cyber Risk Exposure in the Event of a Breach/Attack

Cybersecurity risk assessments help businesses identify, regulate, and alleviate all forms of cyber risks. It is a key component of risk management plan and data protection endeavors.

If you are in the field of information security, you are in the risk management business. As firms rely more on IT and information systems to do business, the digital risk ecosystem expands, endangering it to new critical weaknesses. The main purpose of cyber risk assessment is to help notify decision-makers and enable appropriate risk responses. They also offer an executive summary to help managers and directors make educated decisions about security.

Integrating Cyber Security Incident Response and Business Continuity Plans

In most companies, business continuity or disaster recovery and cyber security incident response plans are still deemed as distinct functions and specialties. These two have common objectives of safeguarding the company's reputation and guaranteeing continuity of business. Consequently, it makes sense to combine them, so it becomes easier to respond to security attacks and data infringements more rapidly, effectively, and efficiently.

Companies must start looking at incident response and business continuity functions under the same lens to better align business-wide recovery procedures and processes. This can be achieved if management teams offer strategic direction to involve the disaster recovery and incident response teams to work together for the greater good of the company.

MetricStream Business Continuity Management is developed on the MetricStream platform that enables businesses to implement and operate a robust business continuity and disaster recovery program. It offers a flexible, unified, and potent platform to organize business continuity planning, disaster tracking, recovery action initiation and management and risk assessments.

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