With cybersecurity incidents becoming more rampant, firms are realizing that it is no longer a matter of “if” your firm will be breached, but rather “when” it will occur. Cyber criminals are more sophisticated than ever, with new and evolving tactics employed to steal valuable business information. Of course, the first line of defense is proactive protection, but if those measures fail, how does your firm know what to do in the case of a cybersecurity incident? The best course of action is to have a strong cyber incident response plan.
What Is a Cyber Incident Response Plan?
A cyber incident response plan is a written guide that describes how to prepare for and identify a cybersecurity incident, and more importantly, what steps a firm will take to react and respond to an incident. Incidents may include a data breach, data leak, or ransomware attack. The plan details how to determine an incident’s scope and risk, steps to resolve the incident, and a timeline of how to respond appropriately, including communicating the situation and risks to all stakeholders, both internal and external. An effective cyber incident response plan involves all parts of a firm, so it is vital that everyone understand their role and how to coordinate with others in the event of an incident.
A cyber incident response plan lists the roles, responsibilities, and contact information for everyone who plays a part in a cyber incident. The plan also typically includes sections such as vulnerabilities, detection, analysis, containment, eradication, recovery, communication, and post-incident activities.
It is not enough to simply develop a cyber incident response plan. Rather, the plan must be reviewed annually and updated to reflect organizational changes, new technologies, new compliance requirements, and anything else that could impact the plan. As such, your document should also have a section that outlines the testing and updating of the plan.
Why Your Firm Needs a Cyber Incident Response Plan
A cyber incident response plan can reduce the damage your firm sustains from a breach. Having a checklist and solid plan of action is vital. Here’s why your firm should have a document:
- Every second counts. Time is of the essence once an incident occurs, and a cyber incident response plan outlines the steps to take to ensure nothing is overlooked. Without it, your IT team, management, and others will be scrambling to figure out where to begin, what needs to be shut down, who to contact, and more. These can be costly mistakes to make.
- Preparation for different scenarios. There are different kinds of incidents and ways your firm may be impacted, so it is crucial for your firm’s plan to map out a variety of scenarios. By identifying your main security risks and associated plans, your team is put in a better position to respond effectively and mitigate further damage.
- Coordination. Once an incident occurs, many teams are impacted simultaneously. It can be difficult to keep everyone apprised of the situation and ensure all stakeholders are handling their appropriate responsibilities at the appropriate time. A written plan ensures the proper coordination and sequence.
- Ensure all requirements are met. Depending on the type of incident, the nature of your firm’s business, and the agreements you have with your clients, there might be legal and compliance requirements for notifications. In addition to applicable laws and regulations, you must be aware of the agreements you have with your clients and the clauses in your cyber insurance policy. Likely, these not only require you to have a plan but also dictate specific elements that must be included in your course of action. With so many requirements, it is vital not to miss anything. A response plan will maintain all requirements in one place.
- Documentation and accountability. A cyber incident response plan ensures that critical information is documented with specific jobs outlined. In the long run, it reduces a firm’s liability, enabling your firm to demonstrate compliance to your clients, auditors, and cyber insurance provider.
While prevention and protection should be the primary focus for any firm to avert a cyberattack, having a proper cyber incident response plan allows your firm to act quickly and purposefully to ensure the best outcome of the situation.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Desktop as a Service and managed IT services for small and midsize professional service providers. For more information and best practices about how to protect your business from cyberattacks, contact us.