"If you fail to prepare, prepare for failure" - Benjamin Franklin
In modern business, companies rely daily on information systems in their business. No matter how big or small a company is, it is vital to provide such systems and their data. Complex IT systems and the company network can easily become vulnerable to attacks. Therefore, it is of great importance for every company to prepare an incident response plan and continuously improve it in order for the plan to be highly effective.
In short, the incident response plan contains a strategy and a basic set of instructions for detecting and preventing future threats, reducing risk, and recovering if such an incident occurs. If you have yet to make your own incident response plan, detailed information can be found all over the internet, and our blog will describe 5 basic points that will make your incident management plan more effective.
1. Keep the plan simple
When an incident occurs, it affects the ability of all those affected by the incident. Depending on the severity of the incident, the harmful effects may worsen. In that case, complex and complicated procedures are unlikely to contribute. It is also very important that the plan provides decent flexibility for adjustment. If it is rigid, the plan should describe all the possibilities that would put it together.
Overall, maintaining a simple incident management plan provides several key benefits.
• The plan is easy to remember, and it speeds up the action,
• Less prone to mistakes,
• Fewer points of contact and interactions, resulting in avoiding potential communication bottlenecks.
Therefore, it is extremely important that the plan be simple to operate in order to be effective and focused on security operations.
2. All employees should understand the plan and its goals
Although part of the incident management plan is to provide instructions for carrying out preparatory activities, this solves only part of the problem. Unless all actors believe in the plan and do not believe in it as guidelines, it is unlikely that the plan will be successfully implemented. It is therefore very important to involve all actors in the preparation of the incident management plan. This activity will not only improve understanding, but will also help build trust.
On the other hand, it is very important to know the goal of the plan. This allows teams to be more flexible in making decisions, even if certain instructions are not directly available in the incident management plan itself but meet and achieve the goals of the plan.
3. The right balance in the sharing of powers
When it comes to executing an incident management plan, it is vital to balance the degree of centralization of authority delegated to the lowest level.
"Centralization is said to be a decision-making process in several hands."
Although there are numerous advantages to centralized powers, this could lead to one point of failure. Therefore, a division of rights is required. Creating a balance when it comes to enforcement powers, gives you the ability to execute without delay and thus reduces the risk of that type of failure.
Let's give one example. Let’s say an IT support engineer detected malicious network access from a network server. If it has permission to temporarily shut down the server, it could reduce the potential risk of the attack spreading. If he needs special permission from his superior or the owner of that server for that step, the engineer who can prevent the incident loses valuable time that he can focus to reduce the impact of the attack.
4. Better prepared communication channels
It is very important that there are clearly defined points of communication. All stakeholders should be able to answer the question "when should I inform if an incident occurs" and "what is the channel of communication".
It is also important to note that there could be a potential impact on communication channels from the impact of the incident itself. This should be taken into account when preparing an incident response plan.
In addition, the incident management plan should include guidelines and details on what information is allowed to be shared and to whom.
As an example, even the slightest mistake in informing consumers about data breaches can significantly affect the value of a brand if it is not done with good preparation.
5. Build a trust-based environment
The fact that we all need to understand is that attacks happen where various vulnerabilities are used. Some of them can potentially be the result of employee mistakes. Here we need to build trust with stakeholders to escalate these issues, not hide them under the rug.
It is important that organizational culture empowers people to do the right things.
This is one of the most difficult challenges in the fight without an appropriate environment and an already existing organizational culture that is positive. If the organization as such has a habit of punishing for mistakes, it creates resistance to escalations and reporting any incident. This could have a significant impact on the execution of the incident response plan.
That is why it is very important to encourage people to report incidents.