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How to Create an Incident Response Plan

How to Create an Incident Response Plan

Things happen – it’s an unfortunate reality when it comes to doing so much business with digital technology. And incidents can take many forms. From compromised passwords to phishing attacks and full-on data breaches, it’s important to have an incident response plan to help your security team respond quickly.

Your IRP will need to contain a lot of information to be effective, some of which might surprise you. That’s why we’ve created this handy quick guide to help you get started. Let’s go. 

5 Steps to Creating an Incident Response Plan

You don’t need a full-blown breach to have an incident on your hands. In IT, an incident includes any event that raises red flags with your security team or your users. From frequently crashing computers to unusual login activity, you should be on the lookout for issues and prepare to take steps to manage them. To build your IRP:

1. Assess and Inventory Your Infrastructure

Develop schematics of your infrastructure and inventory your hardware, software, user, and data assets. This will help you identify what you need to protect and what might be at risk during a given incident. Make sure you note:

  • What permissions users have
  • Where files and backups are stored
  • Where your network is segmented
  • What defenses are currently in place and require maintenance
  • What subscriptions or licenses you possess or might need to replace

If you’ve already completed a risk assessment and built a business continuity plan, it will be much easier to gather this information and start planning how your team should respond to an incident or suspicious activity.

2. Identify the Roles and Responsibilities of Your Task Force

If an incident occurs, you should designate a task force to handle it. This team should be identified in advance, with clearly stated roles and responsibilities for each member. Among the roles should include:

  • Security experts, either employees or third-party professionals
  • An IT auditor
  • Legal counsel
  • Public relations and communications experts

Your incident response plan may have some aspects that are related to your Business Continuity Plan. In fact, you may want to look at updating both policies around the same time.

If your company has clients that audit vendor security, you might see questions about these policies on a vendor assessment security questionnaire.

Try our free Business Continuity Plan Builder.

3. Gather Resources, Procedures, and Tools That the Task Force Will Need

Prepare an “incident kit” that contains all of the resources, procedures, and tools your team will need to respond to an incident. This should include important information for the business infrastructure. This might include:

  • Passwords, serial numbers, or license keys
  • Important phone numbers or contact information
  • Your business continuity plan or disaster recovery procedures
  • Software or hardware to secure and clean infected devices
  • A budget for operations

4. Establish Communication Procedures

Not all incidents will require you to notify affected parties, but some might. Make sure you have on hand any regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, to which your business is subject. You may also wish to compile templates for emails or letters to ensure your team communicates all the necessary information. 

If you’re a Carbide customer, you can also use Advisory Hours to get critical advice from our experts on planning for incident response, data breach notifications, and meeting your regulatory requirements. 

5. Simulate Incidents to Test Your Plan

Simulating incidents to test your IRP is a great way to catch things you might have missed or snags that may hamper your team’s ability to respond to an incident. Roleplaying also helps your task force understand their roles while ensuring they know exactly what to do in the event they’re called into action.

Take the Initiative with Carbide

Your incident response plan can mean the difference between a well-handled incident and an outright disaster. Don’t wait until it’s too late to learn if you’re prepared.

Make sure your security team is armed with updated resources and tools to help them respond effectively. With Carbide, your entire company can enjoy robust, strategic security that reduces incidents and improves overall response.

Do you have policies in place for responding to security incidents?