Incident Management: Are We Ready for the Unforeseen?

Incident Management: Are We Ready for the Unforeseen?

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 By Charles Joseph | Cybersecurity Advocate
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 Last update: November 25, 2023

Incident management refers to a systematic process of identifying, analyzing, and responding to disruptive events or issues to minimize their negative impact. This process includes steps like reporting an incident, diagnosing its cause, finding a solution, applying it, and finally monitoring to ensure it’s effectively resolved. It also involves documenting the incident to make sure the same problem doesn’t reoccur in the future.

Incident Management Examples

1. Server Crash Due to Software Bug

A server crash can be a significant disruption to any business. In this example, imagine that one of your primary servers unexpectedly crashes. You might first learn about this when a customer complains or during a routine performance check. The process of incident management starts with this recognition and immediate reporting of the problem.

Diagnosing the root cause of the server crash is the next step. Suppose it’s determined that a software bug led to the crash. The bug might be in your code or third-party software that the server uses. Either way, once the issue has been diagnosed accurately, you can proceed to the next step of finding a solution.

A solution might involve implementing a software patch to eliminate the bug or applying a workaround until a more permanent solution is reached. This step is crucial as it aims at restoring normal server functionalities and minimizing any disruption to the company’s operations.

Once the server is back online, it’s important to monitor the situation closely to ensure the fix is effective and doesn’t introduce new issues. This ongoing vigilance is part of the incident management process as well.

Finally, after resolving the problem, document the incident in detail. This documentation should include the nature of the crash, its cause, the steps taken to fix it, and how similar incidents could be prevented in the future. In essence, converting this unpleasant experience into a valuable learning opportunity for your team.

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2. Increased Page Loading Time

Suppose your company’s website page loading time suddenly spikes, causing a degrade in user experience. This issue is identified either from user complaints or internal monitoring tools. As a problem, it constitutes an incident and triggers the incident management process.

The next step in the process is to establish the cause of the slow page loading time. After some analysis, it’s discovered that oversized images on the website are the culprit. These high-resolution images are taking too long to load, slowing down the overall page load time.

Once the issue is diagnosed, your team works on finding a solution to bring the website speed back to normal. This could involve optimizing the images, which basically means reducing their file size while preserving image quality. Having done this, your website should return to its formerly smooth operation.

It’s important to continue monitoring the website’s performance even after applying this solution. Ensure the page load time has indeed improved and continues to perform well over time. This gives you confidence in the effectiveness of your solution.

Documentation is the final but equally important step. Record the details of this incident and the correction measures undertaken. Highlight recommendation for new procedures to include image file size specifications to prevent similar issues in future. This not only resolves the current problem, but also helps avoid similar incidents and contributes to the overall performance improvement over time.

3. Receipt of a Phishing Email

In the digital world today, phishing emails are prevalent security concerns. For instance, an employee in your organization receives a suspicious email designed to look like it’s from a reputable source. The employee recognizes the suspicious elements and reports it, kicking off the incident management process.

When the security team gets the reported phishing email, the next step is to investigate it. After thorough analysis, they confirm it’s indeed a phishing attempt designed to deceive the recipient into divulging sensitive information. Identifying the deceptive email as a phishing scam leads to the next course of action.

This involves responding to the incident, which can mean multiple things. In the short term, it could involve blocking the sender’s email address to prevent any more malicious emails from the same source. This step reduces immediate risk and helps ensure employees’ inbox safety.

After dealing with the incident, it’s essential to monitor further email activities to ensure the block is effective. It’s also crucial for the IT team to stay alert for potential new phishing attempts, as threats can continually evolve in form and sophistication.

The final step is documenting the phishing incident. Record what happened, how it was spotted, its impact, and the taken measures in response to it. Simultaneously, the organization should implement educational training or awareness programs for employees to better recognize phishing attempts. The document and new understanding foster a safer digital environment for all staff in the future.

Conclusion

Incident management is essential in addressing and resolving unforeseen challenges within an organization, whether they’re technical issues like server crashes and slow website loading times, or security threats like phishing emails. By identifying, diagnosing, resolving, monitoring, and documenting incidents, businesses can not only resolve current challenges but also enrich their knowledge base, prevent future issues, and continuously improve their operations.

Key Takeaways

  • Incident management is a systematic plan to address and mitigate disruptions or issues, minimizing their negative impact.
  • The process involves five core steps: identification, diagnosis, solution implementation, monitoring, and documentation.
  • Effective incident management can deal with various types of incidents, including server crashes, increased page loading times, and receiving phishing emails.
  • After incidents are resolved, detailed documentation acts as a valuable reference for preventing similar issues in the future.
  • Continuous monitoring is necessary even after resolving incidents, ensuring the implemented solutions are efficacious.

Related Questions

1. What is the first step in the incident management process?

The first step is identification. This occurs when an issue or disruption is detected and reported.

2. Why is documentation crucial in incident management?

Documentation is critical as it provides a record of what happened, how it was dealt with, and how similar incidents can be prevented in the future. This information can be used to improve systems and training.

3. Can incident management apply to non-technical issues?

Yes, incident management can apply to a wide variety of incidents in a business, not just technical issues. It can be used to manage human resources incidents, customer service issues, and more.

4. How can businesses improve their incident management process?

Improvement can be achieved through regular evaluation of the process, staff training, implementing lessons learned from past incidents, and the use of incident management software, tools, or professional services.

5. Why is monitoring needed after resolving an incident?

Monitoring ensures the applied solution is working effectively and not causing new issues. It assists in the earlier detection and prevention of future incidences.

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