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5 Essential Elements Every Incident Response Plan Should Include

A successful incident response plan should include identifying weaknesses, creating a cross-functional team, steps to contain problems, and a testing plan.  

Most companies now realize it’s not a matter of if a security breach or data loss will occur, but when. According to CSO, the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86 million. It takes an average of 69 days to contain the breach. Extensive preparation is not only the key to limiting data loss, but can also help prevent extensive damage once it does happen. There are five specific steps a company should take to put together an effective incident response plan.

1. Identify Potential Weaknesses

The first step is for a company to list all potential weaknesses that are specific to their organization. For example, if a company frequently uses email to conduct business, watching for phishing scams will likely be a priority. A recent Verizon report states that 32 percent of breaches involved some sort of phishing scam. Wi-Fi problems and hardware issues may also be high on the list of potential weaknesses. Each of these security issues also will need to be prioritized during a risk assessment. The more time a business puts into identifying weaknesses, the more preventative action they’ll be able to take which will make an actual incident less likely.

2. Create a Cross-Functional Team

It’s necessary to put together a team of professionals with different areas of expertise who can all work together quickly and efficiently. There need to be individuals that can collect data and others who can analyze it. Making sure there is someone that completes all documentation from start to finish is also a critical part of any response team. There are several people and groups of individuals that are needed on a response team.

  • CEO/Owner
  • Top-Level Executives
  • Human Resources
  • Vendors, Legal Counsel, Public Relations

3. List Steps to Contain Any Problems

Successful incident response planning will include specific steps to contain a problem once identified. This often begins with the removal of malware. If vulnerabilities are discovered there should be a plan to provide an effective patch. Affected parties should be notified as soon as possible. The restoration of all affected systems and data is the primary goal during the containment phase.

4. Test the Response Plan

A response plan may look good on paper, but fail to accomplish its goals when implemented. It’s necessary to test any type of response plan before it would actually be needed. This way a company will be able to work out any steps that didn’t run smoothly during the testing phase. After any problems have been identified, these concerns should be included in updated employee training. Nimmy Reichenberg states at CPO Magazine, “The most effective way to pressure test your processes is to simulate a real-world attack to see how your organization will respond.”

5. Consult with a Managed IT Team

Most businesses have a variety of computers, mobile devices, and software that needs to be maintained and protected. Because of the complexity and constant advancement of technology, most companies are not capable of making sure their systems are up-to-date and secure. A qualified IT team can provide not only a detailed incident response plan but can manage, maintain, and protect complex systems and sensitive data.

BlueHat Cyber is a managed IT service team that can help a company customize software, meet compliance standards, streamline technology, and provide comprehensive security. Contact BlueHat Cyber for more information.

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