6 Steps for Effective Incident Response

In this post, we share everything you wanted to know about incident response steps. What it is and how to handle incident response within your organization.

What is Incident Response?

You should take six steps to make sure you are prepared for an incident. 

A Definition of Incident Response

The goal of a cyberattack is to keep the attack under wraps and limit damage. If you’re able, it’s important to get back on your feet quickly.

It’s important for organizations to have a plan in place that defines what constitutes an incident and provides clear guided steps. It should specify who is responsible for managing the process as well as those taking specific actions.

Who Handles the Response to Security Incidents?

A computer incident response team (CIRT) is usually made up of security and general IT staff, along with members from the legal department. They are responsible for dealing with any cybersecurity threats in an organization. 

Six Steps for Effective Incident Response Handling

The SANS Institute provides six steps you should take to improve the response after a security incident has been discovered.

  • Preparation is the most important phase of incident response. It helps organizations know how well they will be able to respond if an attack happens. Preparations should involve policy, a plan for responding (strategy), communication, documentation, determining who in the organization will take part in incident response coverage and whether or not that person needs special access rights or tools.

Preparation is a crucial part of incident response. It helps organizations determine how well their CIRT will be able to respond to an incident.

  • To detect incidents, IT staff gathers any events from log files, monitoring tools and error messages to determine if an incident has occurred.

The first step in an effective incident response is to identify and detect incidents. To do this, IT staff gathers information from logs, monitoring tools, error messages and intrusion detection systems.

  • Containment is the top priority once an incident has been detected. Containment should be done as soon as possible to reduce damage and prevent further incidents or destruction of evidence.

To prevent the destruction of any evidence that may be needed later for prosecution, it’s important to take steps during containment. These include short-term and long-term containment as well as a system backup.

  • To eradicate a threat, you must remove it and clean the affected areas. Then ensure that no new threats remain.

Eradication is the phase of effective incident response that entails removing the threat and restoring affected systems to their previous state, ideally while minimizing data loss. Ensuring that every measure has been taken up until this point – including measures ensuring infected system are completely clean- are important for eradicating an attack.

  • Recovery is when you test, monitor, and validate systems while they are in production to make sure that they have not been compromised or re-infected. You also need to decide the date for restoring operations after a breach.

Recovery is the last step of incident response. It includes verifying that systems are not compromised or re-infected and restoring operations as soon as possible.

  • Lessons learned is a key component of incident response. It gives organizations the opportunity to update their incident responses with information that may have been missed during an event, plus provide documentation for future incidents.

Lessons learned is the critical stage of incident response. Lessons learned reports give a clear review of the entire incident and can be used during recap meetings, training materials for new CIRT members, or benchmarks to compare against in future incidents.

A clear-cut plan and course of action is the key to effective incident response. Without proper preparation, it’s too late once a breach or attack has occurred.

We’ve all read articles about how to protect your data, and what steps you should take if something happens. But many of us have never been a part of incident response.

Protect Your Organization from Cybersecurity Threats

SecurityStudio helps information security leaders at organizations ensure they’re protected against cybersecurity threats, stay insurable, and legally defensible with our risk assessment and risk management software. Schedule a demo to learn how we can help.


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