May 16, 2016 Steps to Planning an Effective Cyber-Incident Response

Steps to Planning an Effective Cyber Incident Response

Cyber criminals are on the outlook. Armed with their sharply honed skills and their surreptitious whereabouts, they are targeting organizations of various shapes and sizes and with a single blow dismantling their security systems. Cyber breaches have become a part of the day to day routine. Some, like recent ones at Ashley Madison, have stirred the virtual world.

Steps to Planning an Effective Cyber Incident ResponseCredit:

So, what can be the response to potential threats in such times of dire distress? The industry sector especially needs to develop critical action plans in response to an impending data breach. A clear blueprint of a plan should outline the ways in which the preparations can limit the degree of destruction and violation, protect the confidentiality and interests of the customers or the users who are the most threatened, uplift the confidence of stakeholders, and reduce the financial damages that can be caused by such a leak.

In most of the cases, the plans are either outdated and not in congruence with the times. They lack the sure-footedness that should accompany the carrying out of such plans. Often, steps are missed because of the lack of a checklist or wavering and incompetent guides are kept at the helm of all actions. The documentation needs to be lucid and precise and well understood by everyone who is directly responsible for carrying it out well.

Moreover, there are so many plans that lay on the top of shelves, immersed in piles of dust, sometimes completely unused. Coordination of efforts is another extremely important point to be considered. An individual blueprint of a plan, promptly created isn’t of much use unless it is dissected, discussed and further inputs to develop it are taken into account. It’s always about the heads that put it together. Rehearsals too can come in handy!

Steps for Effective Cyber Incident Response

Here is a list of a few guidelines that a company can keep in mind while creating and implementing an effective cyber incident response plan:

  • Assign an executive who is capable of handling the reins of the affair and has able communication skills to coordinate it between everyone involved:

What makes or breaks a plan is an ultimate execution! Therefore, executive support is a very important thing to consider. The executive should realise the seriousness of the actions required and communicate it across the company to get everyone on board.  Everyone should be well informed of how to conduct themselves. After all, integration across all units is what forms the foundation of a company.

  • Analyse the risks, threats, and potential ways in which the plan can fail:

The threats, however, unimportant they are must be taken into account. Risks, cam be both imminent and long-term, and it is essential to take the time into account. Organization and clear vision can go a long way too. Rehearsals are a must in figuring out the changes that must be introduced frequently to keep in tandem with the changing times.

  • Encyclopaedic plans aren’t of much use – simply written plans conveyed in even simpler language can get you through times of distress

The instructions outlined in a plan should be lucid and easily understood; something that can be easily comprehended and carried out at times of crises. In such cases, checklists can be a huge help – simple, and organised points that ca be carried out sequentially are of great use.

  • Establish contacts with legal agencies and law enforcement organizations:

If any kind of intrusion ever occurs, then the first place to report to is a law enforcement agency like the cyber-crimes out of FBI, which deals with cases of cyber terrorism and virtual frauds. Establishing important contacts within such important law enforcing agencies can go a long way.

  • Forge relationships with external breach remediation providers and other experts on whom you can fall back for legal expertise:

Third party experts can be of immense help in spotting errors and also advising you on how to develop a successful and competent cyber incident response. Their involvement can lubricate the flow of processes in case an actual breach does take place.

  • The documentations of the blueprint should be available to the entire organization and routinely monitored for necessary changes:

It is essential that every staff member is aware of his or her responsibilities. Documentation should be available to all, both offline and online. And routine meetings should be organised to communicate the ideas to them.

  • Be careful of leaks that can be caused by internal members of the team:

Often when a healthy working relationship is misbalanced because of any a reasons, personal grudges come into play. Such, threats to the internal system can be grave ones. And one should be well equipped to deal with any kind of suspicious activities or malicious intents.

  • Identify the key members on board and train, practice and run routine sessions to acquaint the others

Team members should be well aware of their roles, and an atmosphere should be such that it fosters good communication within the team. Develop, what is called response “muscle memory”, through realistic routine exercises that have make believe scenarios imitating the seriousness of the situation.


A robust plan always helps in mitigating the hazards of a notorious leak. The onus here should lie on the executive leader who should rise to the occasion to manage the situation with a calm head and with alert senses. The cooperation between staff members also comes into play. Hence, the creation of a robust plan with able minds to carry it out carefully can have a huge impact in ameliorating the consequences.

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