Key Incident Response Workflows: A Guide to Incident Response

In today’s digital world, a meticulous plan and organised response to an incident is your best line of defence against cyber threats. This guide strips away the fluff, offering insight into the incident response workflows that the Aspire Security Operations Centre follow, to protect your infrastructure.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a robust incident response workflow, anchored by clear escalation protocols and continuous updates, is critical for swift and effective threat neutralisation.
  • The incident response lifecycle is a continuous process involving preparation, detection, containment, eradication, recovery, and post-incident activities, emphasising proactive measures and the importance of learning from past incidents for ongoing improvement.


Crafting a Robust Incident Response Workflow

Any organisation aiming to safeguard its digital assets must develop a robust incident response workflow, such as the NIST incident response framework.

Clear thresholds for incident escalation and regular review and updates enable an organisation to prepare for a swift and effective response to security threats.

Assessment and Prioritisation

Following the detection of potential security events, such as a security incident, assessing its severity and prioritising response efforts becomes indispensable. Factors such as financial impact, potential data loss, and system downtime must be considered.

Coordination and Communication

In the heat of an incident response, clear communication and coordination are key. To ensure a streamlined response, every facet of communication, from rapidly notifying stakeholders to providing regular status updates, must be meticulously managed.


The Anatomy of an Effective Incident Response Team

Behind every successful incident response is a team of dedicated incident response team members, each playing a unique role in detecting and responding to security incidents. An effective incident response team includes an array of roles from incident commanders to technical leads and communication specialists, all working together as incident response teams.

Security Analysts at the Helm

Security analysts form the nucleus of an incident response team. Their responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring security systems for abnormalities
  • Initiating the detection process when potential threats are identified
  • Assessing the nature of detected threats
  • Determining appropriate mitigation strategies

Their role is critical in ensuring the security of an organisation’s systems and data.

Leadership and Decision-Making

Overseeing the response to cybersecurity incidents and making vital decisions throughout the event is the responsibility of the incident commander. With strong communication and up-to-date technical knowledge, they ensure a comprehensive response to security incidents.

Support Roles and External Experts

An effective incident response extends beyond the core team to include support roles and external experts. Legal advisors ensure regulatory compliance, while external experts can enhance incident response by sharing threat intelligence and best practices.


Incident Detection Tools

Tools like Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems have revolutionised the way organisations detect anomalies and potential security incidents. These tools, by providing real-time detection and response capabilities, keep security analysts ahead of threats.

Investigation and Analysis Software

Investigation and analysis software enters the scene once a potential security incident has been detected. Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs) automate the collection and normalisation of threat data, aiding in accurate threat identification and response.

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Incident Response Lifecycle Management

The incident response lifecycle, which is a crucial part of the incident response process, encompasses several incident response steps, ensuring a proper response when an incident occurs. In line with the NIST framework, an effective incident response plan includes:

  1. Preparation
  2. Detection and analysis
  3. Containment, Eradication & Recovery
  4. Post-incident activity

This cyclical process is essential for effectively managing and responding to security incidents through incident management.

Proactive Measures and Pre-Incident Planning

A proactive approach to incident response entails identifying and mitigating potential problems before they escalate into future incidents. Regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests can reveal potential security weaknesses that can be addressed before they become a threat.

Recovery and Restoration

Containment strategies, clear documentation, and alternative systems become vital during the recovery phase to restore normal operations and minimise the impact of a security incident on affected systems.

Post-Incident Review and Adaptation

When the dust settles, the focus pivots towards learning from the incident. Post-incident evaluations allow organisations to reflect on the effectiveness of their response plan and make necessary updates for continuous improvement.

Special Considerations in Incident Response

Certain sectors and environments present unique challenges in incident response. For instance, critical infrastructure companies and cloud environments require specialised incident response strategies.

Unique challenges and considerations come into play when dealing with sensitive data breaches. The need for timely notification, detailed documentation, and adherence to reporting requirements are all critical aspects of handling sensitive data breaches.

Specialised cloud incident response tactics are necessitated by the complexities of cloud environments. These include adapting to the shared responsibility model and being prepared for different deployment types.


Aspire’s Incident Response Retainer

Where a fully managed service isn’t right for you, Aspire’s Incident Response Retainer can provide incident response services to protect your digital infrastructure in the event of a suspected compromise.

Package Inclusions

As part of your onboarding to Aspire’s Incident Response services, we collect information about your organisation that would be prudent to us to efficiently handle and respond to a major cyber incident. Additionally, we will focus on key readiness elements by reviewing or creating an incident response plan, then testing this with the delivery of a table top exercise.

You can read more about how we communicate in our Cyber Indecent Communication Toolkit.

Our Cyber Incident Management Process

The below ‘Incident Management Process’ is followed if an alert is determined to be a cyber incident.


Looking for a flexible incident response retainer?

Looking for a flexible incident response retainer?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is incident response?

    Incident response is a structured approach to managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, involving a series of steps taken to handle the situation and minimise damage.

  • What is the process flow of incident response?

    The process flow of incident response involves four main stages: preparation and prevention, detection and analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery, and post-incident activity, as outlined in the NIST framework. This structured approach helps organisations effectively identify and address cybersecurity incidents.

  • What would be our first step when an incident is detected?

    The first step is to identify and confirm the incident. Once confirmed, activate the Incident Response Plan, inform the incident response team, and begin the process of containment to prevent further damage.

  • How can we prevent future incidents?

    Preventative measures could include the following:

    • Regularly updating and patching systems.
    • Conducting security awareness training for employees.
    • Implementing strong access controls.
    • Regular security assessments and audits.
    • Keeping up-to-date with the latest threat intelligence.
  • How does Incident Response relate to compliance?

    Many regulations and standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS, require organisations to have an Incident Response Plan in place. Effective incident response helps in meeting these compliance requirements and avoiding potential fines and penalties. Additionally, an Incident Response Retainer or fully managed security service (like RealProtect), is a requirement for cyber-insurance.

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