What Is an Incident Response Process?
Incident response is a standardized approach organizations implement to ensure they respond timely and appropriately to security breaches. An incident response process enables organizations to identify attacks, minimize damages, and eradicate the root cause. It is the first defense against security threats and can help prevent long-term breaches.
Incident response processes vary according to the type of triggers that initiate a response:
- An early warning according to indirect indications of compromise (IoC): These triggers often preempt issues before they can impact end-users, but they are more prone to false positives.
- The tangible effects of an attack: These triggers typically respond to zero-day threats, which means the trigger occurs after users already start noticing performance issues.
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Steps of the Incident Response Process
The Incident Handler’s Handbook is a 6-step framework that provides guidance on how to effectively build an incident response process.
Here is a quick overview of the steps:
This phase ensures organizations get ready to handle a security incident quickly and efficiently. It involves creating policies that define and communicate clear written principles and practices, and incorporating them into a response plan to guide the organization’s actions during incidents. A major component of this phase is prioritizing incidents according to business impact, and ensuring teams know how to handle these incidents properly.
To effectively remove a security threat, organizations need to determine the size and scope of an incident. This process should start with identifying ‘patient zero’—the device initially compromised. The goal of the identification phase is to learn the root cause of the incident and whether the threat has spread elsewhere or moved laterally.
Identification typically requires gathering indicators of compromise (IoC) and using them to search the estate for further evidence of compromise. For example, when investigating an incident related to a malware infection, organizations can look for the network connections the malware generates and check if it has connected to any domains. This information can help find more evidence of compromise and identify other infected machines within the estate.
Once the incident is identified, organizations should focus on containing and minimizing its impact. Here are several steps recommended for this phase:
Short-term containment: This involves minimizing the incident and stopping it from inflicting more damage. For example, an organization might decide to disconnect an infected device from the entire network to isolate the threat.
System back-up: It is critical to take a forensic image of the system’s state during the infection before wiping the affected system. This image can help during a criminal case and prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future.
Long-term containment: This last step involves temporarily fixing the affected system to prevent business and service interruptions. It might require installing security patches to prevent further escalation.
After containing the incident, organizations should start eradicating the threat. This phase can vary greatly depending on the root cause of the incident. Common practices include disarming malware, patching devices, and disabling compromised accounts.
The recovery phase helps restore normal service to the organization. It typically involves using clean backups to restore services. If no backups are available, organizations might need to rebuild each compromised device to ensure a clean recovery. Organizations should also implement monitoring to gain visibility of the affected devices.
This phase helps organizations determine what caused the incident and create a plan to prevent similar future occurrences. For example, if the incident was caused by a worm outbreak, the organization should determine how it spread through the network and choose measures to prevent this spread from occurring again. It is also important to assess all regulatory aspects of the security incident and make a plan for meeting them.
3 Key Components of a Successful Incident Response Process
Effective visibility allows an organization to detect security incidents quickly and accurately, and to gain a comprehensive understanding of the scope and impact of the incident. This is important because it enables the incident response team to make informed decisions about how to respond to the incident and to prioritize their actions.
There are a number of different ways that organizations can achieve visibility, such as by implementing security tools that can provide real-time monitoring and alerting, performing regular security audits and assessments, and implementing security protocols such as security information and event management (SIEM) or security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR).
It is also important for an organization to have visibility across the entire IT environment, including cloud services, IoT devices, and mobile devices. This enables incident responders to quickly identify and contain incidents that may be occurring in unexpected places.
Process workflows are an important component of a successful incident response process. They refer to the step-by-step procedures that an organization follows to detect, respond to, and recover from a security incident. There are different types of process workflows that organizations can use in their incident response process, including:
- Linear-style playbooks or runbooks: These are detailed, step-by-step procedures that outline the actions that need to be taken in response to a specific type of incident. They are useful because they provide clear guidance on what actions need to be taken, and in what order, to respond to an incident.
- Flow-controlled workflows or runbooks: Flow-controlled workflows use decision points, where incident responders can choose from different options based on the specific circumstances of the incident. This enables incident responders to be more adaptable in their response and to better handle more complex incidents.
Both linear-style playbooks and flow-controlled workflows have their own set of benefits, which organizations can choose based on their requirements. Linear-style playbooks are more straightforward, easy to follow, and less prone to errors, while flow-controlled workflows are more flexible and adaptable to different situations.
Collaboration and Information-Sharing
Collaboration and information-sharing are critical components of a successful incident response process. They refer to the ability of different teams and individuals within an organization to work together effectively and to share information related to security incidents. Here are key benefits: Effective collaboration and information-sharing allow incident response teams to respond to incidents more quickly and effectively.
For example, by sharing information about an incident with other teams, such as IT, legal, and public relations, incident responders can gain a more complete understanding of the incident and develop more effective strategies for responding to it. Additionally, collaboration and information-sharing also aid in the recovery process, by identifying the root cause of an incident and creating a plan of action to prevent it in the future.
There are a number of different ways that organizations can facilitate collaboration and information-sharing, such as by establishing clear lines of communication between different teams, creating dedicated incident response teams, and establishing regular training and drills to ensure that everyone is familiar with the incident response process.
How to Build an Incident Response Process
The best way to get started with building your incident response process is to partner with a cybersecurity expert that offers a managed service as part of their overall offering.
Perception Point offers a free of charge set of value-added Incident response services that are an integral part of the offering to help you better intercept, analyze, remediate and understand any attack across your email, web browser and cloud collaboration apps. No long admin guide books, no integration downtime, and no fuss for an unparalleled advanced threat protection solution with the best ROI in the market.
With Perception Point’s Incident Response service, a team of cybersecurity experts act as an extension of your organization’s SOC team, reducing your overhead by up to 75%. Our team handles all of your ongoing activities; managing incidents, reporting and SOC team updating.