How to Create a Cyber Incident Response Plan

Modern businesses increasingly rely on technology, and cybercrime has become a major concern for organisations small and large, and across all industry sectors. For that reason, having a Cyber Incident Response Plan in place is now crucial to mitigating the impact of a cyber-attack. 

This comprehensive guide explains the steps necessary to create a plan that will enable your organisation to respond swiftly and effectively should it be a victim of a cyber incident.

What is a Cyber Incident Response Plan?

A Cyber Incident Response Plan outlines the steps a business must take to detect, respond to and recover from a cyber attack or hacking incident. 

The plan’s goal is to minimise the damage caused by a cyber attack and to keep the organisation working effectively during and after the incident.

Is a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan a legal requirement?

Although it is highly recommended that all businesses have a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan in place in the UK, it’s not a legal requirement. However, it is in many countries and industries, including the US, highlighting just how important it is.

Which businesses need a Cyber Incident Response Plan?

Regardless of size and industry sector, all businesses should have a Cyber Incident Response Plan in place. If you work on computers, use POS systems, phone systems or anything that connects you digitally, you could be at risk of a cyber attack.

What should be included in a Cyber Incident Response Plan?

A Cyber Incident Response Plan includes procedures for:

  • Identifying and classifying incidents
  • Assigning staff and contractor roles and responsibilities
  • Containing and eradicating the cyber incident
  • Restoring normal operations as quickly as possible.

Cybercriminals can target any organisation at any time, and having a plan in place can help minimise the damage, prevent further attacks and get the business back on track.

Why is it important to have an incident response plan for cybercrime?

It’s crucial for every business to have an incident response plan for cybercrime because modern organisations rely so heavily on technology, and the growing incidence of cyber-attacks is now a major concern.

The incident response plan outlines the steps to be taken when an incident occurs with the aim of minimising the damage caused and getting the business operating normally again as quickly as possible.

How to create a Cyber Incident Response Plan

Our cyber insurance experts cover each step in detail to help you create a comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan for your business.

1. Identification of the incident

The first step in creating a Cyber Incident Response Plan is to identify the cyber incident.

That means identifying the type of attack, the systems and data affected, and any potential impact on the business. To do that, you need a system that monitors your network for unusual activity, such as antivirus software, firewalls and intrusion detection systems. You also need a mechanism through which employees can report suspicious activity. 

Once an incident has been identified, it should be classified according to its severity and urgency. That determines the appropriate response and the resources needed to contain and eradicate the incident.

2. Containment of the incident

The next step is to contain the incident to prevent further damage and loss to your systems. 

That can mean taking certain systems offline, isolating or disconnecting networks and isolating affected systems. The idea of containment is to restrict the cyber incident’s scope and stop it from spreading to other networks and systems.

Documenting a clear containment process is crucial, including assigning roles and responsibilities, defining communication channels and determining the required resources.

3. Instigation of the incident

The third step is to investigate the incident to determine its cause and extent, assess the damage and identify any vulnerabilities that were exploited. That might mean reviewing logs, analysing malware and interviewing staff. 

That information will determine the appropriate response and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

4. Notification of relevant parties

The fourth step is to notify all the affected parties, including senior management, legal, public relations and regulatory bodies. Do that as soon as possible, and include a clear and concise incident summary. The notification should also include a plan for managing the incident, including the steps taken and the required resources.

That will help manage expectations and ensure all parties are informed and engaged.

5. Mitigation of the incident

The final step of your plan is to mitigate the impact of the incident and stop it from happening again. 

That might involve patching vulnerabilities, improving security controls and providing employee training. The mitigation element of the plan should be based on the investigation’s findings and prioritise the most critical vulnerabilities and risks to your business systems and networks. 

By following these five steps, you can create a comprehensive Cyber Incident Response Plan that will help your organisation respond swiftly and effectively to a cyber incident. Remember, establishing a clear timeframe for implementing the plan and assigning responsibilities to specific individuals or teams is essential.

How often should a Cyber Incident Response Plan be reviewed?

Your Cyber Incident Response Plan should be reviewed and updated annually to be sure it reflects the current cyber threat landscape and any changes to your business systems and processes. 

You should review and update your plan, at least annually, but also whenever significant changes to your business operations or IT infrastructure occur. In addition, it’s important to regularly test the plan’s effectiveness through simulations and drills and ensure everyone involved in implementing it is familiar with their roles and responsibilities.

How we work with your business in cyber incident response

At Stanmore Insurance, we specialise in professional cyber insurance for businesses, charities and other organisations. We understand the importance of having a Cyber Incident Response Plan in place, and covering your business thoroughly will form a large part of an effective plan.

Contact our team of experts today to learn more about how we can help protect your business from cyber incidents and hacking attacks.