Interview with Eric Vanderburg - Vice President, Cybersecurity

How to Write an Effective Cyber Incident Response Plan

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What is an Incident Response Plan (IRP)?

An Incident Response Plan (IRP) is a document that holds the processes a business will follow in the event of an incident. It should outline multiple scenarios, including but not limited to ransomware, business email compromise, employee data theft, and loss of systems.

You should have multiple copies, both digital and print, because who knows what data may or may not be accessible. This should be updated and practiced regularly via tabletop exercises, as well as communicated across the organization.

Why is an Incident Response Plan so Important?

Every business should have an incident response plan for many reasons. The main reason, however, is to ensure your team knows how to proceed in the event of an emergency.

The question isn’t “what if” an incident occurs – it’s “when?” You don’t want to be making important decisions that will impact how your organization will be viewed while under distress. By having a plan in place, you take the guess work out of your response and ensure you can identify, contain, and recover from the threat in a logical and (relatively) calm manner.

Some Providers Require an IRP

Not only is having an incident response plan helpful for your organization, it’s often required by third-party providers and clients, including cybersecurity insurance companies, as a part of your contractual obligations.  Having an IRP in place gives those working with you confidence that you are taking proactive measures to ensure the data they are entrusting to you remains secure.

It is also required by many compliance frameworks and regulations. Lack of an IRP may land your organization in regulatory hot water in the event a breach does occur.

How to Write an Effective IRP

When writing an incident response plan, whether you’re updating your current one or starting from scratch, a template is a good place to begin. It’s important to remember, however, that a template is just a beginning. When it comes to incident response plans, customizing it to the specifics of your organization is an essential part of the process.

When making those custom changes, experience plays a crucial role. That can be experience from your team who knows the ins and outs of your business, as well as experience from a seasoned digital forensic incident response (DFIR) team that has helped multiple companies identify, contain, and recover from a variety of threats.

If you would like assistance in customizing your plan, our team of experts are available. At TCDI, we make our clients’ lives easier by providing solutions designed to meet their complex needs. Reach out today with any questions about your IRP.