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Enterprise incident response plans suffer from neglect – Verizon study

24 Sep 2019
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Incident response plans may be a useful part of cyber-preparedness, but they’re of little use if security teams don’t review, test or update those plans on a regular basis.

That may seem like an obvious statement, but a new survey from Verizon indicates that while 79% of surveyed organisations have an incident response (IR) plan in place, only 40% bother to ensure those plans remain effective as time passes.

Verizon’s Incident Preparedness Responsive report also indicates that only 48% of incident response plans are constructed in a logical and efficient manner, indicating that many organisations are taking a stance of ‘it won’t happen to me’.

“Companies think that having an IR Plan on file means they are prepared for a cyber-attack. But often these plans haven’t been touched, updated or practiced in years and are not cyber-incident-ready,” says Verizon Global Security Services executive director Bryan Sartin.

“Having an out-of-date plan is just as bad as having no plan at all. IR Plans need to be treated as ‘living documents’, regularly updated, and breach scenarios practiced in order for them to be truly effective.”

Additionally, During 2018 only 14% of assessed plans fully or partially required periodically reviewing third-party services for incident response purposes. Furthermore, less than half (43%) fully provided third-party contact procedures.

"IR Plans can be kept current by including stakeholder feedback, lessons learned from breach simulation testing as well as intelligence insights on the latest cyber-tactics being used. This enables the plan to constantly re-create itself reflecting the ever-changing cyber-security landscape,” comments Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center’s John Grim.

Verizon has identified the six typical phases every IR Plan should contain:

Planning and preparation – This includes constructing the IR Plan to include key internal stakeholders and third parties - crucial for an effective response.

Detection and validation – Detect and classify cyber-security incidents by severity level and source early in the IR process.

Containment and eradication – Focus on containing and eradicating cyber-security threats.

Collection and analysis – Collect and analyse evidence organisations to shed further light on cybersecurity incidents; helping with effective data breach containment, eradication, remediation and recovery activities.

Remediation and recovery – Provide remediation and recovery measures; specifically, describe those actions to not only ensure operations are recovered and restored to normal but to also prevent or mitigate future incidents.

Assessment and adjustment – Feed post-incident lessons-learned results back into the IR Plan to improve cybersecurity metrics, controls and practices.