What is Incident Response (IR)?

What is Incident Response (IR)

An incident response (IR) plan is essential for state and local governments; however, creating an effective program requires more than simply documenting procedures.

Familiarizing staff with your incident response plan is vital to acting swiftly when cyber incidents occur, reducing business disruption costs while maintaining productivity.

What is Incident Response?

Implementing an incident response plan is essential to any organization, ensuring employees know what steps to take if a security breach occurs, as well as how and when to notify their team for swift action.

Organisations who develop an Incident Response Plan can leverage it to quickly detect and understand the scope of a breach before attackers do further harm, by using both system data analysis tools and security solutions such as Cortex XDR.

This tool combines detection and response capabilities to facilitate faster, more accurate threat hunting, reduce alert fatigue, automate ticketing and alert triage processes, conserve human resources for high-value activities, improve cybersecurity operations, and conserve human resources for high-value activities. Utilizing one pool of raw data, XDR can detect threats without human intervention, provide visibility from a unified standpoint across multisites/tenancies/tenancies, enhance forensics/investigative capabilities as well as facilitate multisite multitenancy environments.

What Is an Incident Response Plan IRP?

An incident response plan (IRP) is a document that details procedures for detecting, responding to and mitigating cybersecurity incidents. An IRP may cover events like data breaches, distributed denial-of-service attacks, firewall breaches, ransomware outbreaks or insider threats.

Preparation for incident response lifecycle events should be an ongoing process. Organizations can prepare by upgrading their security capabilities, automating controls to streamline them and training users on policies, procedures and tools. Furthermore, periodic risk assessments and mitigation efforts to understand their IT environment, apply hardening best practices on servers and configure systems securely should also take place.

An IRP should include an escalation procedure with contact details for reporting incidents to government agencies and CERTs, along with the timeframe for data breach notifications as dictated by compliance frameworks or regulations. Furthermore, the IRP can identify key stakeholders involved in cybersecurity incidents as well as define their responsibilities within each cybersecurity incident; including processes for mitigating losses by patching exploitable vulnerabilities quickly, restoring affected systems quickly, and identifying any root causes of any incidents that arise.

What are the Incident Response Steps?

Preparation involves developing the processes, information flows and resources required for effective incident response. This may involve selecting team members and setting up communication routes as well as documenting an incident response plan itself.

Identification involves recognizing and assessing cyber events from various sources, such as intrusion detection systems, firewall alerts, system error messages and log files. It includes determining what kind of attack was involved as well as its impact and scope.

Containment involves isolating affected systems to restrict any unauthorised access by attackers while simultaneously eliminating malware and other threats from entering. Furthermore, this step involves patching compromised systems as well as taking other corrective actions.

Recovering from any breach involves returning normal operations to normal and verifying that it has been successfully eradicated, with measures such as restoring affected systems to factory settings, installing additional security controls, and applying 24/7 monitoring in order to detect future attacks. Conducting post-incident reviews and identifying lessons learned from incidents will help strengthen cybersecurity overall and ensure an improved response process when future attacks happen. Furthermore, all staff must support this process so as to minimize damages from data breaches or other cyber attacks.

Why is an Incident Response Plan Important?

An incident response plan provides comprehensive instructions for handling data breaches, cyber attacks and other security incidents. By having one in place, damage is limited while recovery time decreases significantly and additional risks are reduced.

As threats continue to evolve and vulnerabilities emerge, making zero-day vulnerabilities more prevalent, and asset sprawl ever-more pervasive, it is increasingly essential that organizations that process sensitive information – such as personal identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI) or biometrics – create an incident response plan. This is especially true for organizations processing such sensitive data as PHI or biometrics.

IR teams should be trained to recognize and respond effectively to various incidents. Engaging in regular drills and exercises allows IR members to practice carrying out processes quickly and efficiently during emergencies. After any simulation or real incident has taken place, hold a lessons learned meeting afterward to assess what went well and identify areas for improvement. Furthermore, inform all employees about your incident response plan in order to guarantee full employee cooperation during breaches – this way all members can play their roles and responsibilities as planned.

Incident Response Plan Templates and Examples

An incident response plan template provides your team with a predefined set of guidelines they can refer back to when an incident arises, such as policies, communication guidelines and threat intelligence feeds. A good incident response plan must combine detailed steps with flexibility that can adapt to changing security incidents.

In the initial phase, your organization should conduct a risk analysis in order to identify its assets and prioritize them, in order to develop policies and procedures that safeguard these valuable systems, with particular consideration paid to any critical ones. Furthermore, vulnerability detection and assessment provide useful insights.

The detection step involves monitoring for suspicious activities and alerting appropriate team members of potential threats. Response actions take include taking measures to contain and recover from these attacks on systems affected by them; recovery phase involves restoring their functionality as well as assessing what would have prevented further incidents; lessons learned phase includes documenting incident thoroughly while further exploring its full scope; lessons learned sessions include discussing areas in which security controls could be improved upon.

6 Phases of the Incident Response Lifecycle

An effective incident response plan (IR) can protect your data and systems against cyber attacks. A comprehensive incident response process must take into account in order to identify and stop attacks quickly, thus minimizing damage while eliminating future risks.

Step one in creating an IR plan involves preparation. This includes aligning policies with security goals, securing systems and servers, training employees on security awareness procedures, as well as creating and testing incident response plans.

Finding early warning signs of cyber attacks (precursors and indicators) allows you to respond swiftly, even when it remains uncertain whether a breach has taken place or one may happen in the near future. Infra Red detection phase involves monitoring systems to detect anomalies, alerts and logs which might signal possible cyber threats.

Within this phase, it’s crucial that you encrypt data, quarantine infected assets and repair any damaged hardware and software as quickly as possible. Furthermore, this phase offers an opportunity to inform teams, stakeholders, law enforcement authorities as well as any applicable entities about what happened and how it was stopped.

What Does an Incident Response Team Do?

A cybersecurity incident response team (CSIRT) is a group of people who work together to mitigate damage, restore systems and ensure business continuity. A typical CSIRT may include roles such as:

Incident response teams must respond rapidly and accurately when responding to incidents, which requires agility that may be hard to attain without clear role definitions and workflow protocols. Without clear responsibility allocation or awareness of other team members’ tasks, important tasks often get repeated or neglected altogether.

CSIRT teams must also work effectively with other internal and external organizations, requiring effective communication skills, knowledge of security policies and procedures within an organization, access to relevant resources that could mitigate an incident and accessing them quickly afterward. Finally, they must identify and remediate gaps in an organization’s security posture, such as conducting lessons learned meetings after incidents to identify areas for improvements; using that data for future responses.

What are Incident Response Services?

Incident response services (IR) provide organizations with tools and expertise that allow them to protect their networks from cyber attacks. Managed IR services cover an array of tasks from helping create comprehensive security programs to immediately remediating breaches. Some providers also offer forensic analysis, malware identification/removal/identification management/incidents monitoring.

Incident response services aim to mitigate damage caused by cyber attacks or data breaches quickly and restore operations as quickly as possible. Services may also include working closely with law enforcement officials in bringing attackers to justice.

An effective incident response (IR) process depends upon being able to recognize signs of an incident as soon as they arise, whether that means precursors and indicators or full-blown incidents. An advanced detection and response platform like Cortex XDR helps IT and security teams accelerate IR by offering automated threat discovery and response capabilities with real-time visibility from one centralized point.

7 Types of Security Incidents

Every day you hear of another cyberattack or data breach. To remain safe from potential breaches it’s essential that organizations implement policies for detecting security incidents quickly and taking appropriate actions to respond accordingly.

Security incidents don’t always translate to data breaches. If you detect an unauthorized attempt at accessing servers or data, this may indicate an ongoing phishing attack that’s trying to gain entry.

1. Insider Threat

An insider threat may come from employees, contractors, or third-party vendors with authorized access to company data. Such individuals could use this access for malicious reasons such as hacking, data theft, sabotage or fraud; often out of revenge or greed against an organization; this might take the form of hacking attempts against their employer and/or targeting their boss for financial gain or by selling confidential company information to competitors.

Insider threats don’t only come in the form of deliberate attacks; they may also come through careless acts. These could include mistyping an email address or accidentally opening an enterprise to phishing attacks and malware. Other indicators of infiltrators could be accessing systems or files beyond authorized levels, unauthorized software installation and repeated attempts at downloading data – especially from remote locations or when an employee isn’t authorized accessing company resources.

2. Malware Attack

Malicious software (malware) attacks range from minor infections to massive cyberattacks that cause widespread disruptions. Malware attacks are utilized by hackers for multiple reasons: theft of credit card data or passwords is only one. Malware also disrupts business operations – the Emotet banking Trojan that crippled systems in Allentown Pennsylvania was one such instance; others such as SamSam ransomware attack caused havoc in Atlanta with millions lost revenue and remediation expenses as a result.

SOC teams need to be able to detect threats quickly and assess damage incurred from cyber attacks quickly in order to contain and eliminate infections quickly and completely. Unfortunately, without the appropriate resources and processes in place, an attack can quickly spiral out of control without prompt mitigation efforts from SOC teams. Security incident response provides SOC teams with proven, scalable and automated workflows designed specifically to mitigate incidents before they escalate further. Download our Security Incident Response 101 eBook and gain more insight into this field; here you will learn all the steps required for creating an effective SIR function as well as best practices for handling and mitigating security incidents effectively.

3. Denial-of-Service DoS Attack

DoS attacks are intended to render systems inoperable by flooding them with enough traffic and data that it overwhelms available memory or processing power, overloads network connections or causes other complications. They may last for various amounts of time and may have significant repercussions – it is crucial that businesses calculate how much revenue could be lost during an attack and ensure their mitigation controls can withstand increased traffic requests and connection requests.

Some attacks can be very targeted, taking aim at specific application servers or protocols. Others exploit flaws in network architecture – like how older operating systems handled fragmented IP packets (teardrop attacks) which allow attackers to send overlapping packets that host OSes cannot reassemble back together and thus crash target systems.

Other attacks include buffer overflow attacks, which overload a server with more data than it can process, network-layer attacks like floods saturating bandwidth capacity with connection requests and data, or combinations thereof such as RF interference which interferes with local WiFi or longer range wireless connections to distant sites.

4. Man-in-the-Middle MitM Attack

Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks involve any situation where an attacker intercepts communication between two parties with the intent to gain information such as login credentials, account details and credit card numbers from either of them. Such an attack may be hard to spot since it often appears like normal exchange of data.

Attackers can launch MITM attacks using different strategies, including stealing session cookies or exploiting vulnerabilities in communication protocols such as SSL, DNS or website apps. By taking control of an organization’s communication processes in this way, cybercriminals gain the ability to gain eavesdropping access and steal confidential data or infiltrate systems with malware – potentially opening themselves up for theft of confidential data, infiltrating systems or spreading viruses throughout.

MitM attacks have also become more prevalent with the rapid expansion of IoT. This is due to many IoT devices failing to adhere to security standards set out for traditional electronic equipment; therefore, these IoT devices can easily fall prey to malicious software designed to intercept data from devices like home thermostats, smart locks and voice-controlled speakers. But there are ways you can stop such attacks – investing in an effective web security solution which inspects both protocol and port layers can help your company avoid or at least detect a MitM attack

5. Privilege Escalation Attack

After infiltrating a system, cyber attackers will seek to escalate privileges by exploiting software vulnerabilities, phishing attacks, social engineering techniques, password cracking or brute force hacking to gain access to lower-level user accounts.

Once they gain access to this data, all it takes to elevate their permission level to administrative or root accounts and take control of your system is raising their permission level further. A breach like this could have serious repercussions ranging from downtime and data leakage to taking control over an entire enterprise.

Privilege escalation attacks can strike any organization, even those with limited budgets and cybersecurity measures. Lincoln College in Illinois recently experienced a ransomware attack that led to it closing down due to students and faculty being affected by ransomware attacks; no organization can escape attack entirely, so every business requires a team of cybersecurity experts who can monitor its environment to detect these types of sophisticated attacks and protect itself. For maximum effectiveness against such threats, businesses require solutions combining AI technology such as high-speed filtering technology coupled with human analysts for security.

6. Phishing Attack

Phishing attacks are an increasingly dangerous type of cyber attack that can do serious damage to organizations, individuals and their families. Attackers may be financially motivated in their attacks – for instance, according to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report of 2020, 86% of breaches were financially driven.

Attackers attempt to deceive users into disclosing confidential information by pretending to be trustworthy. Attacks such as these could come in the form of emails, instant messages, texts or phone calls and can include installing malware onto computers as part of ransomware attacks or stealing sensitive data such as login credentials or credit card details.

Attackers may spoof the address of banks or even government websites to deceive users into clicking a malicious link that downloads malware or redirects to a phishing website. More targeted attacks such as whaling (CEO fraud) and spear phishing use research about their targets to craft messages that seem more genuine, leading to financial loss, privacy loss or company sabotage.

7. Unauthorized Attempts to Access Systems

Cybersecurity incidents refer to any event which disrupts data or systems in any way, from breaches in information security resulting in stolen or misused data, as well as network attacks that result in making it inaccessible or disrupting it.

To identify security incidents, keep an eye out for unauthorised users accessing servers or data they don’t require for their jobs, or logging in at odd hours. Such activity could indicate either an insider threat testing the waters, or someone who has gained entry and plans on taking advantage of his access and taking more privileged data from it.

Malware detection can result in the immediate elimination of malicious software, recovery of affected systems and evaluation of lessons for future incidents. But even events without direct damage require response – for instance clicking on links within suspicious emails could install malware that allows a hacker to extract confidential data or launch ransomware attacks against employees’ devices – for which an immediate response should be implemented immediately.

Incident Response Automation

Incident response automation removes routine and repetitive tasks from analysts’ schedules, freeing them up for more important investigations of critical incidents. Furthermore, automation speeds up and enhances their work processes – helping make an organization more resilient and agile at scale.

Purpose-built incident response tools sift through mountains of data to quickly detect and prioritize security alerts, complete standardized responses automatically, automate forensic investigation workflows and shorten response times for understaffed SecOps teams. In addition, these tools facilitate proactive threat hunting by querying all corporate systems environments for signs of an attack and providing intelligence gathering on all known threats to prevent attacks from taking place.

Your automation tools must cover all aspects of an incident from detection and prioritizing to remediation and resolution, seamlessly integrated with existing systems so the IR team can manage them all from one central platform. Furthermore, ensure these tools are available and working real time – any automated sequences must leave space for human intelligence should an issue require expert analysis or resolution.

Sam is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.