Incident response includes ongoing monitoring and risk assessment in order to identify possible threats and vulnerabilities before they are exploited, in addition to responding to incidents as they happen. This necessitates a proactive mindset and a dedication to lifelong learning and progress.
It’s not a question of whether your organization will encounter a cybersecurity incident—it’s a matter of when given the fast-changing threat landscape of today. The ability to recognize, respond to, and overcome such catastrophes requires a strategy. Every organization should have an incident response system (IRS) as part of its cybersecurity plan.
What does the Incident Response System (IRS) actually do?
An Incident Response System (IRS) is a proactive, dynamic, and cooperative approach to continual growth and development that involves many teams and stakeholders inside a company.
While dealing with and recovering from cybersecurity incidents is the main objective of an IRS, it also includes constant monitoring and evaluation of the incident response process.
This suggests that an effective IRS is not a static set of policies and processes, but rather a dynamic system that is always expanding to keep up with new threats and shifting business needs. By assessing and updating incident response plans, tactics, and technologies, organizations can enhance their incident response capabilities and better get ready for upcoming crises.
Steps for Incident Response: The Incident Response Lifecycle’s Six Phases
The incident response process involves six steps. Each time an occurrence takes place, a cycle of these six phases is initiated. The actions are:
1. Systems and processes creation
You assess the effectiveness of current security procedures and policies throughout your first phase of preparation. To do this, conduct a risk assessment to identify your assets’ relative importance and any present weaknesses. The prioritization of responses for different incident kinds is done using the information. If at all possible, it is also utilized to restructure systems to address vulnerabilities and concentrate security on assets with a high priority.
2. Incident identification
Teams try to find and identify any unusual activity using the instruments and techniques chosen during the planning phase. When an event is discovered, the members of the team must try to determine the type of attack, its origin, and the assailant’s objectives.
3. Attackers’ containment and incident activities
Containment strategies are chosen and put into action after an incident is discovered. To reduce the amount of harm done, it is vital to get to this stage as soon as feasible.
Sub-phases are frequently used to accomplish containment:
Threats that are present now are contained temporarily. An attacker’s current location on your network, for instance, might be isolated. Another option is to shut down an infected server and direct traffic to a failover.
Additional access constraints are implemented on unaffected systems to ensure long-term containment. Systems and resources are developed in the interim in clean, patched versions in preparation for the recovery stage.
4. Removal of the attackers and possibilities for re-entry
The full scope of an attack is revealed both during and after containment. Teams can start expelling attackers and removing malware from networks after they know all impacted systems and resources. This stage keeps going until the attack’s last remnants are gone. In some circumstances, this can necessitate turning off systems so that recovered assets can be replaced with fresh copies.
5. Regaining control after an incident, including system restoration
Teams launch upgraded replacement systems online during this phase. While it’s ideal to be able to restore systems without losing data, this isn’t always attainable.
The recovery phase usually lasts a while because it also involves keeping an eye on the systems after an occurrence.
6. Evaluation and improvement
Your team analyzes the actions that were made during the reaction phase during the lessons learned phase. Members ought to discuss what worked and what didn’t, and offer ideas for future enhancements. During this phase, any unfinished paperwork should also be completed.
Benefits of Incident Response Systems
A methodical approach
It is practically hard to foresee security incidents. Despite appearing to be well-protected, any business can be taken by surprise by unanticipated incidents. By proactively putting incident response processes in place, you will have a precise, methodical action plan to fall back on in urgent situations.
An organization may not be prepared for a cyberattack, but if your workforce is panicked and unprepared to handle it, your business may not be able to fight back and defend itself. Incident response systems assist in minimizing the effects of an attack, fixing vulnerabilities, and systematically securing the entire company.
Customers, business partners, and other stakeholders all like it when a company has a strong crisis response strategy in place. These kinds of proactive actions suggest that a company has made an effort to improve its crisis response capacity.
At some point or another, several Fortune 500 companies have fallen victim to a cyberattack. An incident response plan significantly contributes to fostering trust among an organization’s stakeholders in the world’s tough cybersecurity environment.
Due to the extensive rules in place around the world, businesses must take a number of steps to maintain compliance. Critical industries like healthcare and finance are subject to stricter regulations to guarantee that sensitive data is well-guarded. Regulations like the Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require organizations to have incident response plans in order to comply.
Best Practices for Incident Response
Effective event reaction depends on preparation. Without established rules, even the most qualified incident response team can’t cope with an occurrence successfully.
- Create and Record IR Policies:
Establish incident response management rules, procedures, and agreements.
- Establish communication standards:
To ensure smooth communication both during and after an incident, establish communication standards and norms.
- Use threat intelligence streams:
Constantly gather, evaluate, and synchronize your security intelligence feeds.
- Threat hunting exercises:
Strategic threat-hunting exercises should be carried out to identify situations that are occurring in your environment. This makes it possible for more prompt incident reactions.
- Evaluate your existing ability to detect threats:
Test Your Ability to Identify Threats Update your risk assessment and enhancement initiatives and evaluate your existing ability to detect threats.
2. Monitoring and Reporting
This phase’s main goal is to keep an eye on security-related events so that prospective security incidents can be found, warned about, and reported.
- Observe: Using firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and data loss prevention, observe security occurrences in your environment.
- Identify Correlate notifications in a SIEM solution to identify probable security incidents.
- Alert: Analysts log the initial findings, classify the problem, and establish an incident ticket.
- Report: You should make provisions in your reporting procedure for regulatory reporting escalations.
3. Assessment and Analysis
This stage requires the most work in order to adequately scope and comprehend the security event. Resources should be used to gather information from tools and systems in order to do additional analysis and find signs of compromise. Analysts should pay close attention to these three areas as evidence is gathered:
- Endpoint Evaluation
Identify any traces the threat actor may have left behind. Gather the objects required to create an activity timeline.
Bit-by-bit forensic analysis of systems should be performed, and RAM should be captured so that important artifacts may be analyzed to ascertain what happened on a device.
- Binary Evaluation
Look into any harmful binaries or tools that the attacker has used, and note their features.
Two methods of analysis are used in this.
- Binary Analysis:
Execute the malicious program in a virtual machine to observe its behavior.
- Static analysis:
Explore every feature of the harmful program by reverse engineering it.
- Binary Analysis:
- Enterprise Hunting
In order to ascertain the extent of the compromise, analyze current systems and event log technology.
So that containment and neutralization can be carried out effectively, and keep track of any compromised accounts, devices, etc.
4. Neutralization and Containment
One of the most important phases of incident response is this one. Based on information and indicators of compromise obtained during the analysis phase, a containment and neutralization strategy is developed.
Coordinated Shutdown: Once you have determined which systems inside the environment have been infiltrated by a threat actor, shut down these devices in a coordinated fashion. To guarantee proper timing, a message must be delivered to every member of the IR team.
Wipe and rebuild: Delete all data from infected devices and start fresh with your operating system. All affected accounts should have new passwords.
After the crisis is over, further work needs to be done. Any information that can be utilized to stop situations like these from happening again in the future should be accurately documented.
Complete the incident report: Completing an incident report will help to enhance additional security measures and the incident response strategy, which will help to prevent similar security events in the future.
Observe the Following Incident: Threat actors will reappear, so keep a close eye out for activity after an occurrence. We advise security log hawks to scan SIEM data for any indications of indicators tripping that might have been connected to the earlier incident.
Threat intelligence update: the organization’s threat intelligence feeds should be updated.
Last, but not least, remember to develop new security efforts to stop incidents from happening again.
In order to effectively monitor and respond to cybersecurity problems, organizations of all sizes must have an incident response system. By creating an incident response system, firms may minimize the harm caused by cyberattacks, save downtime, and protect critical data. To ensure success, organizations must train staff and frequently assess the system’s efficacy. However, implementing such a system can be difficult.