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Cyber Incident Response Plan: How Prepared Are We?

Cyber Incident Response Plan: How Prepared Are We?

 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Researcher
 Published on August 1st, 2023
This post was updated on November 25th, 2023

A Cyber Incident Response Plan is a detailed course of action designed to properly manage and contain a cyber breach or cyber attack. Its ultimate goal is to limit damage and reduce recovery time and costs. The plan establishes the steps to identify, investigate, remediate, and recover from a security incident, while also providing guidelines for future preventative measures.

Cyber Incident Response Plan Examples

1. Example

An online retail company realizes that a data breach might have occurred, putting customer credit card information at potential risk. They have a Cyber Incident Response Plan in place for such situations.

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The first step is immediate action. The affected systems are isolated to prevent the spread of the breach. This includes taking the affected servers offline, disconnecting from the internet, or changing access controls. Next, they begin an investigation to identify the origin and extent of the breach and understand how it happened.

Simultaneously, under the protocols of their response plan, they notify affected customers about the potential risk to their financial data. This notification is delivered in a swift, clear, and transparent manner to ensure customers are aware and can take immediate steps to secure their credit card information.

The company also informs relevant authorities about the breach, cooperating fully to minimize the potential impact. This is followed by remediation efforts – understanding the vulnerability that allowed for the breach, and taking immediate steps to mend it.

Finally, they reflect on the incident and amend their security protocols, strengthening their systems to prevent such a breach from occurring in the future. This signals the completion of the Cyber Incident Response Plan in this scenario.

2. Example

In this scenario, an IT company has become the victim of a ransomware attack. When they detect this, their Cyber Incident Response Plan promptly kicks in to manage the situation.

The first step they take is to disconnect the infected machines from the network. This prevents the spread of the ransomware to other systems, effectively containing the damage. In parallel, the IT security team begins an in-depth analysis of the ransomware to understand its type, behavior, and degree of threat.

Once they comprehend the nature of the threat, the cybersecurity team attempts to remove the ransomware from the infected systems. This can involve using specialized antivirus tools, or if necessary, rebuilding the system entirely.

Following removal of the threat, they use backed up data to restore the affected systems. This ensures the company can return to normal operations as quickly as possible. This step underlines the importance of having robust and regular backup operations in place.

Finally, their Cyber Incident Response Plan calls for a post-incident analysis. The team looks at how the ransomware infiltrated their systems and the damage it did. They use the lessons from this analysis to update their security measures, making them resilient against future ransomware attacks, thus completing the response plan.

3. Example

This example involves a popular social media platform experiencing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Upon detection of unusual incoming traffic, their Cyber Incident Response Plan comes into action.

The first step in this plan involves rerouting network traffic. This is often achieved by using load balancers or specialized DDoS protection services. This measure is set to ensure regular users of the platform can still access services without interruptions.

While the site remains functional for its users, the cybersecurity team starts identifying and blocking malicious IPs. This step aims at weeding out the sources of attack in order to contain and mitigate the incident.

Having addressed the immediate issue, the team continually monitors for additional suspicious activity. They scrutinize their system logs, network traffic, and user reports to identify any lingering threats from the attack or possible new ones.

Last but not least, the team conducts a thorough vulnerability assessment after the attack. They review how the attackers were able to orchestrate the DDoS attack, what vulnerability they exploited, and how they can strengthen the platform to prevent such attacks in the future. With this step, the Cyber Incident Response Plan is successfully completed, and the social media platform stands stronger against future onslaughts.


A Cyber Incident Response Plan plays a crucial role in limiting the damage and reducing recovery costs in the event of a cyber attack or breach. By following planned steps to identify, investigate, remediate, and learn from each incident, organizations can enhance their resilience and improve their security posture for the future.

Key Takeaways

  • A Cyber Incident Response Plan is a structured action plan for managing and containing cyber threats or breaches.
  • Its primary goals are to limit damage, reduce recovery time, and lower costs associated with remediation.
  • The plan generally covers steps to identify, investigate, remediate, and recover from cyber incidents.
  • Examples of incidents where Cyber Incident Response Plans come into play include data breaches, ransomware attacks, and DDoS attacks.
  • Post-incident analysis and changes to security protocols offer opportunities for improving overall cybersecurity posture.

Related Questions

1. What is a data breach?

A data breach is a security incident in which unauthorized individuals gain access to confidential data, usually in a system that is supposed to be secure. This can involve personal data, financial data, health records, or other sensitive information.

2. What is a ransomware attack?

A ransomware attack is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.

3. What is a DDoS attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with enormous amounts of traffic from multiple sources.

4. Why is a Cyber Incident Response Plan necessary?

A Cyber Incident Response Plan is essential for organizations to manage and limit the damage caused by cyber threats effectively. It helps in quick recovery and reduces the costs associated with the remediation of the cyber incident.

5. How can businesses improve their Cyber Incident Response Plan?

Businesses can improve their Cyber Incident Response Plan by conducting regular audits and testing, keeping it updated with the evolving threat landscape, training their staff regularly, and learning from past incidents.

"Amateurs hack systems, professionals hack people."
-- Bruce Schneier, a renown computer security professional
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