Incident Response Steps – Frameworks and Plan

Incident Response Steps - Frameworks and Plan

Incident Response Steps – Frameworks and Plan – An incident response plan is an integral component of your overall security strategy, comprised of general tasks, internal guidelines, procedures and technology.

Plan should clearly state who needs to be informed of a security breach, via which communication channels and at what level of detail. Furthermore, law enforcement involvement must also be determined at this point.

Incident Response (IR) Frameworks

An incident response plan (IRP) is a key element of any effective security operations center, helping organizations identify and analyze security threats, establish an efficient reporting mechanism and prepare staff to deal with incidents effectively. Testing these plans regularly with techniques like purple teaming or tabletop exercises is advised; using tools like IRP templates or incident response software such as Cortex XSOAR may assist with improving processes while making sure response plans work optimally.

SANS and NIST offer incident response frameworks, with selection depending on organizational needs and requirements. For example, if your services must comply with FISMA-compliancy regulations, NIST might be the better choice since its framework includes compliance regulations as a compliance point. Both frameworks follow similar processes with five core steps being Prepare, Detect, Containment, Eradication and Recovery being key steps – especially Recovery which involves testing affected systems before testing to restore. Both frameworks also incorporate Lessons Learned steps which allows reviewing incident response processes before documenting improvements on incident response processes while documenting improvements on incident response processes over time.

What Is SANS?

SANS is one of the premier cyber security training organizations. Offering courses and certifications such as penetration testing and ethical hacking, incident response, digital forensics and more; in addition to offering resources that can assist cybersecurity professionals better protect their networks.

The SANS Institute, established in 1989 and located in California, specializes in information security education and research. As the world’s premier provider of cybersecurity training and certification courses, it also operates an Internet monitoring system called the SANS Internet Storm Center as well as offering access to its collection of security research documents via the SANS Reading Room.

Sans is one of the key characters from Toby Fox’s 2015 role-playing video game Undertale. His brother Papyrus introduced Sans into the story. Sans appears as an overweight, short skeleton wearing either a hoodie or simple jacket and serves as support character by default, although by defeating all race monsters on Genocide Route he becomes de facto final boss and uses multiversal theory during battle and conversation to reference alternate realities as an expert on that subject matter.

SANS IR Steps, Frameworks &Plan

The SANS Institute is a private organization dedicated to information security research. Their six incident response steps include preparation, identification, containment, eradication and recovery.

At this stage, your focus should be on building an efficient team and documenting it accordingly. Your goal should be to ensure that when an incident arises, your team can quickly respond and be on scene immediately.

Establish critical functions and their associated data, applications, and equipment requirements. Ascertain a recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each function so you can plan for events accordingly, restore data and systems quickly while minimizing disruption to operations.

Both NIST and SANS concur with this step, although their verbiage differs. The lesson here is to regularly improve your process based on actual events or security event simulations to increase resilience against attacks. Furthermore, reviewing this process can identify areas in need of employee training or security controls strengthening so you can prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.

1. Preparation

As Benjamin Franklin once noted, death, taxes and cyber attacks are the three certainties in life. An effective incident response plan can mitigate fallout while decreasing recovery times and mitigating risks to your business.

Preparation Phase involves developing and assembling a policy and team. This may also involve reviewing existing policies and procedures as well as setting up communication lines between team members. Furthermore, during this stage the team should learn how to detect and contain threats, thus preventing damage.

Staying current on cyber security trends and techniques is also vital, so this step of the IR process may involve conducting realistic drills and creating training materials.

Documenting all occurrences is another key component, particularly for companies dealing with sensitive data like PHI or PII. Doing so allows for a comprehensive investigation to take place, with documentation systems providing insight into what caused an incident and identifying any vulnerabilities exploited by attackers. All documentation should be stored centrally so it’s easy for members of your team to access in case of emergency situations.

2. Identification

An effective incident response plan must include processes, resources, communication channels and escalation paths to effectively respond to incidents. A good incident response plan provides all team members with clear understanding as to who is accountable for which tasks in case of an emergency situation.

This step involves identifying security incidents and assessing their severity through log monitoring, network monitoring, intrusion detection systems and user reporting. Furthermore, all affected assets should be identified and mapped so as to obtain a full picture of any attacks.

Once an attack has been identified, an immediate coordinated shutdown of compromised assets must take place – this step is critical in mitigating damage and mitigating service disruptions. Accounts left by attackers should be deleted, systems cleaned up and all vulnerabilities patched to thwart future attacks. Finally, all documentation associated with the incident should be collected and studied for any useful insights to enhance future incident response efforts; both NIST and SANS concur on this last step, though their terminology may differ slightly.

3. Containment

Security teams work during the containment stage to isolate an incident and prevent its further spread, whether that means segmenting a compromised network, isolating hosts affected by malware infection, removing malware or identifying vulnerabilities exploited by threat actors. It is vitally important that management, IT teams and if required law enforcement authorities remain informed throughout this process.

Security teams who successfully contain threats transition to the eradication and recovery phases. Eradication involves fully rectifying an incident by eliminating all trace of its existence from affected systems – for instance destroying malware, deleting accounts without authorization, and issuing threat mitigation requests against domains used by threat actors as command and control servers.

Recovery involves bringing remedied systems back online and testing and monitoring them to ensure that any remaining vulnerabilities have been mitigated. This may involve restoring files from backups, installing software from trusted media and addressing any residual issues that have surfaced during remediation. As part of this process, an incident report and evaluation must also be completed so as to gain lessons learned.

4. Eradication

Once an incident is contained, it’s crucial to rid systems of any trace of malicious presence. This may require eradicating malware, terminating an attacker’s account or completely reimaging harmed systems in order to ensure all traces of breach have been deleted and no malicious content can reenter them. This phase can take considerable time and work.

An effective incident response plan must include policies, playbooks, and procedures to enable incident handlers to make quick, sound decisions under fire. A policy should outline top priorities while playbooks or procedures provide more details.

An effective incident response team is essential in mitigating the effects of attacks, protecting sensitive information and avoiding further incidents. An IR policy designed to increase organizational security by identifying vulnerabilities exploited previously is also vital – this ensures future attackers won’t find similar exploitable holes again.

5. Recovery

Recovery Phase. In this stage of incident response, systems affected by an incident are brought back online while remediation efforts are implemented in order to stop future attacks. This can involve rebuilding them from clean backups, installing patches or updates from vendor systems, changing passwords, tightening network perimeter security or increasing system logging to detect breaches at source and prevent breaches in real-time.

Both SANS and NIST recommend conducting a post-incident review to evaluate what went right and wrong in an incident response team situation, identify any security controls or policies which performed suboptimally, and optimize documentation as a result of such reviews.

Determining which framework best meets the needs of your business comes down to personal choice. For instance, NIST incident response framework offers more comprehensive guidance and offers checklists for each step that can assist with meeting compliance regulations such as FISMA. Furthermore, this approach provides advice for creating an incident response team, communication procedures and training scenarios for employees that could save both time and resources when responding to an incident response situation.

6. Lessons Learned

Both NIST and SANS frameworks advise organizations to take time after an incident occurs to assess its aftermath, gather metrics and incorporate lessons learned into future security processes. This may help prevent similar attacks from reoccurring in the future or improve existing controls to minimize a breach’s impact.

Understanding who is accountable for performing which tasks in your incident response plan, when they should complete them and under what conditions can help your team members perform more efficiently during a crisis situation. A clearly written document can assist with this.

Once a cyber attack strikes, you need to quickly recognize and isolate any threats before removing them to minimize further damage. Recovering production systems requires rigorous testing before being brought back online – both phases form part of an incident response process that should include policies detailing these processes; regularly review these documents based on what you learn.

Recovery involves testing and monitoring systems, restoring them back into operation, as well as evaluating any incidents, compiling metrics, and applying lessons learned into future security processes.

Lessons-learned meetings involving all relevant parties should be mandatory after major incidents and recommended after less serious ones to improve security as well as incident response.

Key Roles in an Incident Response Team

An incident response team will enable your organization to respond more rapidly and efficiently when faced with incidents. Assigned roles enable your teams to move quickly into action; our Incident Response Benchmark Report showed that incidents with assigned roles had 42% lower mean times to resolution.

Leadership – Coordinate incident response activities to minimize damage and recover efforts as well as focus on continuous improvement for future incidents.

Investigation – Investigate an incident’s full scope by collecting evidence, analyzing logs, and access points. This involves identifying attackers and their actions as well as exploited vulnerabilities as well as compromised assets.

Recover – Restoring affected systems to normal operations after eliminating malware and verifying system cleanliness. This step also involves calculating the cost of an incident in terms of productivity lost and human hours spent troubleshooting and repairing.

Communications – Notifies those affected by an incident and updates management; as necessary, law enforcement; it also works towards meeting customer concerns.

Best Practices for Building Your Incident Response

Preparation includes creating incident response teams and equipping them with all of the tools they require in an incident situation, setting up backup locations so business data can be recovered, minimizing service interruptions, as well as creating communications templates and an incident response playbook containing instructions on how to deal with media inquiries or customer notifications.

Incident Response Process The initial stages of incident response involve detection and analysis to ascertain whether and the severity of an attack have occurred, followed by containment to stop its spread, recovery process to restore affected systems while eliminating malicious content such as backdoors and accounts, security patches deployed, as well as recovery process to recover those systems which have been affected, while ensureing malicious accounts or backdoors have been eliminated and security patches deployed if applicable.

To be effective, an incident response plan needs to be tested regularly. This can be accomplished through either table exercises that enable employees to practice their roles without risking company infrastructure, or simulations that assess how well teams handle real-life scenarios. At the conclusion of each incident, lessons learned meetings should be held to review what went well and identify areas for improvement.

1. Create a simple well-defined process

An incident response plan that includes clear processes will allow your team to respond rapidly and effectively during a crisis situation. A well-defined plan will also ensure that key personnel are informed, as well as making necessary decisions more effectively. Aim for balance between detail and flexibility as rigid processes can make adapting more challenging when an incident happens.

Your incident response (IR) plan must include processes to protect assets using technological solutions, detect incidents through employee security awareness training and monitoring, assess impact to prioritize additional response activities, preserve, contain, and recover evidence as soon as possible, as well as implement coordinated shutdown of affected systems using intelligence indicators gathered during detection phase and eliminate threats using intelligence collected during detection phase before bringing back online remedied systems during recovery phase.

Once your plan is in place, it is essential that it be tested in order to identify gaps and measure effectiveness of procedures. You can conduct discussions-based tabletop exercises or hands-on operational exercises which put playbooks and procedures through their paces.

2. Create a communication strategy

An effective incident response plan relies on clear communication among team members and external responders, and therefore it’s crucial that teams develop an inclusive communication strategy which covers how the team will coordinate during an incident as well as which types of information should be shared among internal and external stakeholders.

Step two of an effective incident response plan involves creating and implementing processes and procedures for handling incidents, such as creating SOPs for common cybersecurity threats and notifying authorities in case of incidents.

Decide the criteria that will trigger the team into action, which involves analyzing data from IT systems such as monitoring tools, error messages, firewalls and intrusion detection systems to spot anomalous events that indicate potential security incidents. Define what constitutes an incident as well as document all actions taken during response; one way of doing this may include using Exabeam SIEM with Smart Timelines that automatically eliminate false positives while stitching together both normal and abnormal behavior on one timeline.

3. Use an incident response plan template

An incident response plan template allows you to craft a comprehensive set of instructions to detect, respond to and limit the effects of cyber threats. While no single solution exists for every cyber attack or cyber-threat situation, such plans typically include 17 steps for handling incidents as well as references for more specific plans against specific threat types like malware or system failure.

Implementing a systematic method for recognizing, responding to and recovering from threats will protect your startup from losing customer trust, data or revenue – while providing everyone with clarity regarding what to do if a cybersecurity event takes place.

To make your incident response plan successful, it requires confident people who understand their roles when the time comes to put them into effect. They should understand how to prioritize alerts and their responsibilities as well as knowing when or who to seek assistance in handling events quickly and efficiently. Regular tabletop exercises (known as tabletop rehearsals). can help your employees become familiar with their positions.

4. Put your incident response plan to the test

Your incident response plan must be put to the test regularly, be it through tabletop exercises or simulation tests. These allow employees to hone their roles as incident responders without placing critical systems at risk; furthermore, these exercises can uncover any gaps or shortcomings in processes and procedures.

Testing should focus on the first two steps of the NIST framework: detecting and identifying security incidents, as well as containing and eliminating them. This means isolating affected systems, notifying relevant personnel, and collecting data to assess whether an incident is significant.

Teams need to communicate efficiently. For instance, when an incident arises at your corporate headquarters and response teams need to quickly coordinate responses across locations quickly and easily, communication tools like Slack or video conference bridges are ideal as they’re easy to use and can be tailored specifically for specific scenarios. Furthermore, having an action plan for notifying affected parties both inside and outside your organization is also key.

5. Use a centralized approach

Utilizing a centralized incident response process is one way to help alleviate confusion and frustration in an incident response plan. This involves setting clear procedures on who should log into each tool and correlating information during an incident, as well as making sure all employees understand this plan, so they can cooperate more efficiently during disruptions while helping minimize length.

Organizations should conduct an in-depth review of existing security measures and their effectiveness to assess any changes that need to be made, conduct risk analyses to identify vulnerabilities and prioritize assets so as to prioritize protecting those that matter the most.

Teams should first work to detect suspicious activity and assess the type of attack; document any evidence collected and contain the threat by disabling accounts and disconnecting affected devices; finally forensically investigating and analyzing to identify both attackers and sources of vulnerability.

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.