What is An Incident Response Plan (IRP) and why is It Important to Have One?
With the evolution of technology and the revolution in the information age, the concern with data security has become more and more constant for companies, governments, and users. Since data are fundamental assets for the growth of companies, investing in protection is essential in organizations’ routines.
As cyber threats and crimes increase, efforts need to be stepped up, putting effective security measures in place. Therefore, there is a need to have a team specialized in security within a company, regardless of the industry, that constantly works to protect the information, relying on an Incident Response Plan (IRP).
This way, the team can anticipate threats and develop the best actions to combat them immediately, without harming the company’s business.
For that, one needs to ensure this response plan works correctly, following the fundamental steps, and is well managed. In this article, we explain what an incident response plan is, its benefits, and the important aspects of putting one together.
What is an Incident Response Plan (IRP)?
An IRP is a formal document that contains a set of tools and procedures that an IT team must adopt to deal with security issues that arise in the business. The purpose of these measures is to work on the prevention, identification, elimination, and recovery of cyber threats.
Not only that, it ensures that actions are taken as quickly as possible, minimizing possible damage to the business, which ranges from loss of data and damage to resources, profits, and loss of customer trust.
To be successful in an IRP, one needs to follow some fundamental steps that are well managed. The standard plan with these steps is based on the Incident Handler’s Handbook published by the SANS Institute.
It is a document with six steps to be followed when building the plan, which are:
The first step in implementing the plan is defining a specific team to work with the incidents. The team will be responsible for creating the incident documentation, containing the protocols to be followed in the execution of the plan’s actions.
It is necessary to train the personnel to handle the situations by following the company’s security policies. This helps to understand exactly the risks to which the company is exposed and the preventive measures to be taken in different situations.
The responsible team must work to detect deviations from operations, seeking to identify incidents and define their severity.
In this detection, the type and severity of the problem are documented, as well as all the procedures that are being carried out in this regard. The formalization of this incident must answer the questions “Who, What, Where, Why, and How”.
After identifying an incident, the team’s next step is to work on containment, in order to avoid future damage of the same nature. This containment is divided into short-term and long-term procedures.
The short-term containment works on the immediate solution of the problem, trying to prevent possible damage from the attack, while the long-term one refers to more complex actions, which involve the restoration of the entire corporate system, aiming at its return to normality.
Once the problem is contained, eradication actions are initiated. At this step, the focus is on the complete removal of the vulnerability and the necessary measures to avoid a recurrence of the problem.
These actions can involve a change in authentication mechanisms, such as passwords and access permissions, or even a restoration of all affected systems in the company. The incident level and the most assertive action will be defined by using metric indicators, KPIs.
In this step, the team works to verify and correct threats that may have gone unnoticed in the previous step, that is, the remnants of the incident. A scan action and transport of backups into cloud systems can be one of the necessary measures in this process.
Also, the team assesses the performance of the previous step by analyzing the response time, the damage caused and the performance of the tasks, so that new directions to be followed are defined.
In order for the team to be prepared for future problems and to reduce any errors, it needs to record the entire containment process performed, containing the incidents and the procedures to combat them.
It is a very important step as it documents the entire process and provides a history of occurrences to aid future actions. It is also at this step that mistakes and successes of actions are evaluated, which hindered or enhanced the development of actions.
How Important is an IRP?
A company that has an IRP is better prepared to deal with a wide variety of situations related to the security of its information. The best practices in the plan help the company to assertively anticipate and combat various threats.
By adopting these practices, the company ensures greater security of its data, prevents the payment of penalties on data recovery costs, and avoids financial losses.
Greater Data Security
The implementation of protection and backup, correction, and access management systems, as well as the correct management of information, generate faster actions to protect and contain incidents.
The costs of fighting incidents can be high, due to regulatory sanctions, customer compensation, or the overall costs of investigating and restoring systems.
An IRP helps to reduce these costs as it constantly works to prevent problems. Moreover, profit losses are also mitigated, in addition to minimizing costs, system downtime also decreases, limiting data loss.
It Maintains and Enhances the Company’s Reputation
Without implementing an IRP, controlling and combating threats becomes more difficult, which can lead to business loss. This is because incidents do not only affect the technical aspects of the company but are directly related to business continuity.
Constant and unresolved attacks on customer data undermine the credibility of the company responsible for its protection. Furthermore, it may lose investors and shareholders who stop believing in a flawed and easily breached business.
On the other hand, quick and effective responses to incidents demonstrate the company’s greater commitment to data security and privacy, which increases its credibility and reputation.
Important Aspects of Putting an IRP Together
Following the IRP steps is critical to your success. However, the company needs to be aware it is not a fixed process and that it must be adapted to the organization’s structure.
Hence the importance of periodic assessments to constantly evaluate the plan, eliminate its gaps, and adopt the necessary improvements.
To implement the plan, it is not necessary to have a large team of employees, but that they are all properly qualified, trained, and have good tools to ensure the best possible results in carrying out the activities.
It is also necessary that other sectors undergo training so that they become aware of the company’s security policies and know how to proceed in the face of incidents and how to report them to the responsible team.
Did you get interested in the subject? Learn more about possible incident response plan improvements in the next article.