No one can predict what the future is going to bring. If the pandemic taught us anything — it's that business owners today need to plan for the worst-case scenario. It's hard enough dealing with a crisis, but having to make a plan as you recover is only going to lead to more problems. 

Whether it's a hurricane, power outage, fire, or cybersecurity breach --- having a plan in place will guide you through the crisis and give you a roadmap toward recovery.

Many business owners overlook the importance of creating an Incident Response Plan (IRP) for cybersecurity incidents. With cyber crime on the rise and the costs of cyber attacks increasing every year, the importance of preparation cannot be overstated.

“Incident response plans are key drivers to maintaining employee productivity, customer service, and executive communication during potential cyberattacks,” Neil Jones, director of cybersecurity evangelism at Egnyte, said.

Data breaches are common, and unfortunately; incidents are only increasing as cyber criminals become more sophisticated. In today’s world, most cyber liability insurance policies require a company to have an IRP in place.

According to the 2023 Sophos State of Ransomware Report, 58% of businesses making $10 million or less in revenue, experienced ransomware attacks in 2022. Showing us that more than half of non-enterprise businesses were attacked last year. Reports indicate this number will only rise in the future. 

What is a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

An Incident Response Plan is a set of instructions that outlines how a company will respond to a cybersecurity incident. The plan should include procedures for handling different types of incidents, as well as contact information for the individuals who should be notified in the event of an attack.

Cybersecurity incidents can include a whole host of issues that interrupt business. A ransomware attack can prevent you from accessing any customer information or company data. A natural disaster might restrict access to on-premise hardware, including rendering your data inaccessible. A hardware failure might negatively affect a business’ ability to carry on business.

This is when an Incident Response Plan is invaluable in providing some much-needed guidance on what to do when business continuity is interrupted.

An Incident Response Plan can also help to reduce the costs associated with a cyber attack. The average cost of a ransomware attack is $1.5 million. By having a plan in place, you can minimize the damage caused by an attack and get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

An Incident Response Plan will further guide you through a disaster, taking into account: 

  • state laws
  • the nature of the compromise
  • the type of information taken
  • the likelihood of misuse
  • the potential damage if the information is misused

For instance, if a data breach compromises your business' sensitive information, especially when involving customer information, that breach must be reported to the FBI in a timely manner. It is important to be well-versed in the laws surrounding data breaches and include those parameters in your IRP.

Why do I need a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

Here are four reasons why every business owner needs an Incident Response Plan for cybersecurity incidents:

  1. A cybersecurity incident can happen to any business at any time. No business is too small or too big to be a target. As a matter of fact, smaller businesses tend to have a more difficult time creating an IRP because they have no experienced personnel to guide them through the technical aspects.
  2. A well-designed Incident Response Plan will help you minimize the damage and get your business back up and running as quickly as possible. Step-by-step instructions in your IRP will make your post-disaster actions decisive and efficient in restoring your business to full productivity.
  3. Incident Response Plans provide clear instructions for employees on what to do in the event of a breach. This can help minimize the damage by preventing the further spread of the incident.
  4. An Incident Response Plan can help you avoid some of the costly mistakes that businesses make after a breach, such as notifying customers too late or not having adequate insurance coverage.

Don't wait until it's too late to create an Incident Response Plan for your business.


How do I create a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

Every business is different in the way they utilize technology and store critical information, so the details of Cybersecurity Incident Response Plans can differ. It is a good idea to involve a cybersecurity professional to help guide you through creating the most effective and comprehensive plan.

One Step Secure IT’s cybersecurity experts start by running a scan of a business’ systems in order to locate potential vulnerabilities and address those first. The best defense is a good offense when the goal is to avoid a breach altogether. Then, One Step puts together an Incident Response Plan tailored to the business.

As part of the service, One Step will coordinate the education of all employees on the IRP and help you post hard copies of the plan around your company so that any employee can access the IRP in the event of a disaster and know exactly what to do. Because a business is a living, breathing entity, IRPs should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure it remains relevant and effective.

What should I do if I experience a Cybersecurity Incident?

Hopefully, you are prepared and have an Incident Response Plan that you can follow as you recover from the incident. Following your IRP should help you minimize the damage and get your business back up and running as quickly as possible.

If you experience a cybersecurity incident and do not have an IRP prepared, there are a few basic steps to start on the path to recovery. For guidance through the recovery process, consider contacting a cybersecurity professional.  

Here are a few basic steps you can take following a cybersecurity incident:

Disconnect from the Network: If you suspect a cybersecurity breach, immediately disconnect the affected device from the internet or any network connections. This helps contain the incident and prevent further unauthorized access.

Assess the Situation: Take a moment to assess the severity and scope of the incident. Determine what data or systems may have been compromised and gather any available evidence or information related to the incident.

Notify the Relevant Parties: Depending on the nature of the incident, you may need to notify various parties. This can include your organization's IT department, your manager, or the appropriate authorities such as the local police or a computer emergency response team (CERT). Follow your organization's incident response procedures and inform the necessary stakeholders promptly.

Preserve Evidence: Preserve any evidence related to the incident. This can include screenshots, log files, or any suspicious files or emails. This evidence can be helpful for investigation and mitigation efforts.

Contain and Mitigate the Incident: Work with your organization's IT team or a cybersecurity professional to contain the incident and mitigate any further damage. This may involve restoring affected systems from backups, patching vulnerabilities, or removing malicious software.

Change Passwords and Credentials: As a precautionary measure, change passwords for any compromised accounts or systems. Ensure that the new passwords are strong and unique.

Conduct a Post-Incident Analysis: After the incident has been contained and resolved, conduct a thorough analysis to identify the root cause and any vulnerabilities that may have been exploited. This analysis will help prevent future incidents and strengthen your organization's security measures.

Learn from the Incident: Use the incident as an opportunity to learn and improve your cybersecurity practices. Implement any necessary changes to prevent similar incidents in the future. This may include additional employee training, security awareness programs, or technological upgrades.

Plan While You Can

While an Incident Response Plan isn’t designed to guarantee that your business will never be the victim of a cyber attack, it can greatly increase your chances of recovering. By taking the time to create a plan and educating your employees on its contents, you can create a much safer and more secure environment for your business.

If you would like to speak with a cybersecurity expert about creating an Incident Response Plan for your business, Schedule a Discovery Call to take the first steps.

Topic: How to Protect Your Business from Ransomware