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    What Cyber Leaders Need to Know About Incident Response

    In the constantly changing world of cybersecurity, one thing that doesn't change is the inevitability of incidents. No matter how robust your defenses are, no system is entirely immune to breaches, vulnerabilities, or cyberattacks. And when an incident does occur, having a well-defined Incident Response (IR) strategy is crucial. 

    Why Incident Response Matters

    Minimizing Damage: In the aftermath of a cyber incident, time is of the essence. A fast and efficient cyber incident response can significantly mitigate the damage inflicted on the organization. Whether it's a data breach, ransomware attack, or system compromise, the ability to quickly contain and neutralize the threat can prevent further escalation.

    Protecting Reputation: Cyber incidents can affect an organization's reputation and damage customer trust. Effective cyber incident response demonstrates to customers accountability, transparency, and a commitment to addressing security concerns promptly. A proactive approach can help safeguard the organization's reputation and maintain the confidence of stakeholders.

    Compliance Requirements: With the advent of data protection regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA, organizations are required to report and carry out an appropriate cyber incident response to security incidents within a legal time limit. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant penalties and legal repercussions. A strong and robust incident response plan ensures compliance with regulatory requirements, mitigating potential liabilities.

    Learning and Improvement: Every incident provides valuable insights into the organization's security posture, vulnerabilities, and threat landscape. Security teams can identify gaps in their defenses by conducting thorough post-incident analysis, and then use the insights gained to improve security protocols, and enhance resilience against future threats. incident response serves as a continuous learning process, driving iterative improvements in cybersecurity strategy.

    Creating an Effective IR Team

    The core team will usually be IT or Cyber Security staff. The extended team may include other capabilities, such as PR, HR, and legal. 

    The team does not have to be dedicated to IR full-time. It is more cost-effective to have a 'virtual' IR team, pulled together when needed, from people who have other day jobs. However, if this approach is to be adopted, it is vitally important that the people critical to the IR team are able to prioritize an incident over their day-to-day work, when necessary.

    There is also the option of an outsourced IR team. Many organizations rely on such services where they can't justify the cost of maintaining there own IR team.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    The IR team has a number of roles that must be fulfilled in order to ensure that incidents are managed and coordinated effectively depending on the incident and what resources are affected. These roles will fall under one of the following:

    • Government and law enforcement
    • Senior/executive management
    • Incident manager
    • Technical lead/recovery manager
    • Crisis management, business continuity, disaster recovery
    • Investigators and analysts, cyber security specialists
    • IT and infrastructure
    • Other departments including legal, PR, HR, and customer services

    Roles Required During an Incident

    This diagram details the core roles required for responding to any incident. In many cases, some team members will carry out more than one role, but this is perfectly ok as long as the responsibilities are accounted for and available as needed. There are also optional roles that may be needed depending on the nature and severity of an incident. 

    Central Coordination

    Having a central point of coordination is crucial. The team member with this responsibility does not need to be a cyber security expert as their role is to ensure that all actions and findings are managed, tracked, and correlated and that details about the incident and its response are communicated clearly to all parties involved. 

    Hours of Coverage and Surge Support

    The hours when incident response cover is available will depend on the organization and its risk appetite. The need to balance risk and budget can be hard as working extended hours can have large costs associated.

    When determining your coverage, the following should be considered:

    • How would you handle an incident that starts in the day and cannot be left overnight?
    • Might incidents be detected out of hours that cannot wait until the next working day?
    • What coverage is required? Week days only, extended business hours, or 24/7?
    • What is the risk? Do you need official on-call support, or does the cost of this outweigh the risk?

    Team Skills and Experience

    The skills and experience required by your IR team will vary depending on the nature of your business and how much of the IR capability you decide to build in-house.

    There are, however, some practices that will benefit any organization.

    Maintaining Awareness

    Make use of threat feeds along with the latest cyber security news and incident reports. These can improve your general awareness and knowledge, they may also alert you to current threats to your sector and organization.

    Ensure the executive team is aware of the threats and their likely roles during an incident. In particular, you should make clear the critical decisions they may need to make, usually with limited information.


    One of the best ways to identify gaps and hone your response is to run exercises based on real-life scenarios.

    Exercises can range from deeply technical/tactical through to strategic and management-level response. It is well worth running exercises at all levels in order to ensure all aspects of the business know their roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident.

    The NCSC offers a free online tool, Exercise in a Box, to help organizations test and practice their response to a cyber attack.


    The provision of specific training to key staff can significantly improve an organization's readiness for a cyber incident. There are specific training courses available in this area. Many providers will be able to offer bespoke training and briefing sessions in line with the needs of your business.

    Executive Awareness

    It is just as important to build awareness and experience at the executive level, as it is at the technical level, as these roles will be required to make urgent, critical decisions as well as who will be able to take on certain key roles, such as incident manager during the response, and who will be required to make critical decisions.

    It's also essential to ensure that deputies are appointed in the event that key staff are unavailable, or need a break during a long incident response.

    The Cado Platform

    The Cado Platform allows security teams to:

    • Automate the entire end-to-end incident response process – from collecting, preserving, and analyzing forensic evidence, to containing the threat and limiting its impact.
    • Prepare comprehensively for an incident by setting up accesses, testing data acquisition, implementing automation rules, and integrating with third-party systems including incident management platforms such as XDR, SOAR, CNAPP, and SIEM.
    • Test for incident preparedness in order to continuously understand risk posture, know where gaps exist, and where to invest in reducing exposure.

    If you want to find out more about how the Cado Platform can help your organization implement a repeatable IR process, schedule a demo with one of our team, or try our 14-day free trial

    Tag(s): Cloud DFIR

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