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Super Administrator • 23 Nov 2020

How To Test Incident Management Tools | Response Plan

Cyber threats are constantly evolving. All systems, people and processes around us are unceasingly dependant on technology. Even the most sophisticated cyber defense frameworks that seem virtually impenetrable can be breached by unauthorised intrusions. This escalates the need to formulate a steadfast incident response plan and conduct regular tests to assess its capabilities.

Building a Functional Incident Response Plan:

Before we dive into the elaborate incident testing mechanisms, let us discuss the basics of building an effective incident tracking system and response plan and the key elements involved in preparing the master blueprint of the process.

  1. Get all Stakeholders on Board:

A security incident affects the entire organization and is not limited only to the IT and security departments. When drafting an incident response plan, make sure to update contact information and keep all participants educated about security breaches. Here, participants are not only employees but they also involve senior members, software vendors and every other person associated with your organization.

  1. Map out Security Vulnerabilities:

To better configure your incident tracking software, get a clear understanding of your system vulnerabilities, and chart out the weak zones. Get a deeper view of your network architecture and start figuring out tangible ways to prevent and detect attacks that could initiate from these weak links.

  1. Document these Weak Links:

When security incidents take place even after you take ample precautions, it is the documented playbooks that can save your day. When you notice a weak point in the system and manage to fix it, remember to properly document the procedure in order to quickly handle similar threats later. Also, keep a checklist handy that mentions which playbook to trigger when the attack takes place.

A Strict Incident Tracking Software is Now More Important Than Ever. Here’s why:

● The average cost of data breaches and cyber incidents has gone up to about $7.91 million in the United States.

● On average, it takes 196 days for a company to correctly identify data breaches and take action accordingly.

These statistics make us wonder why enterprises are willing to risk their data and spend millions of dollars on reactive measures when they can efficiently work towards strengthening their existing security systems with incident management tools.

According to a study by SANS, 25% of enterprises review and update their incident response plan only after a major security breach has occurred. This essentially means that security analysts have initial defense mechanisms in place but they fail to keep them updated well in time. Even the most cutting-edge, expensive and promising security incident management tools can miss highly concealed intrusive elements if they are not analyzed or subjected to improvements often.

How to Test your Incident Response Process to Safeguard your Systems? The 3-Step Process:

  1. Paper Tests: A simple procedure of conducting theoretical tests, this kind of examination helps those enterprises who do not have a well-documented incident response plan, to begin with. Paper tests are essentially generic in nature and are only helpful in figuring out small process changes and other updates since the last time the incident management software was put to test.
  2. Table-top Exercises: A great way to test your cybersecurity strategy, table-top exercises involve all stakeholders and security teams who take part in a drill or a rehearsal to assess how cross-functional teams can respond to a breach in the incident reporting software and related systems. This mock-security event can help organizations to test their level of preparedness across participants and run through key security processes and troubleshoot issues that arise.
  3. Simulated Attacks: Conducting real-time simulated attacks to test the efficacy of existing incident management tools has proved to be the most successful method for the assessment process. Security analysts can simulate the deployment of a familiar or known threat to effectively analyze the effectiveness of the incident tracking software and decide whether or not it needs to be improved.

Simulated attacks help examine the ‘when, what and how’ of the incident response plan that the security team will be putting in action. This projects a clear picture of the way your existing incident tracking system will respond in the event of an actual security breach.

Post-Testing Procedures to Follow:

Analysis and optimization of your incident response procedure are the next steps towards diligently testing your strategy. Once you are done with the above-mentioned tests, you should have a clear vision about the capabilities of the incident management software and be able to identify the process gaps. This will help you make use of the right incident management tools to better guard your systems from future attacks.

To ensure an air-tight cybersecurity posture, here are the steps you need to follow:

● Documentation and Playbooks:

Table-top exercises and simulated attacks are a great way of figuring out the weak points present within your security incident management tools. These lessons learned should be accurately documented to make them accessible to the security operations team when an incident occurs or a breach has taken place.

Updated playbooks and proper documentation of the entire process is also useful in the identification of the nature of threats and figuring out the cause and effect of the same.

● Focus on Improvement of your Existing Response Plan:

If your incident response plan passes the tests above and you fail to identify any fragile corner in the security ecosystem, you should definitely look again. Even when your strategy is perfect, there is always going to be a reason or a space for improvement of the response process to better tackle security incidents. There should be ways to determine tangible solutions for the betterment of your incident reporting software.

Wrapping Up

With the availability of numerous incident tracking software and incident management tools, it has become easier to tackle security breaches by creating a firm incident response plan. But a firm plan should not be static; it should evolve far and beyond the capacities of malicious entities to ensure a consistent and reliable cybersecurity framework.

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