Technology has become an integral part of our society; it has changed the way we interact and how we conduct business. While technology has become an indispensable part of our lives, it has also left many businesses more vulnerable and susceptible to cyberattacks.
After a long day, the last thing anyone wants is to be jolted out of bed in the middle of the night, awakened by news that their company has been hit by a ransomware attack. But should this nightmare occur, response time is crucial. The decisions that are made within the next few seconds, minutes, and hours will determine the long-term operational and regulatory consequences to your business’ reputation.
Cyberattacks – including ransomware – are becoming increasingly common and complex, leading many organisations to leverage cybersecurity as a service (CSaaS), a security model where outsourced specialists provide companies with urgently needed defences and on-demand intervention. By outsourcing all security operations or augmenting existing teams, organisations can ensure 24/7 threat hunting, detection, and response capabilities. This is made possible through managed detection and response (MDR), a core CSaaS offering.
However, MDR is only half the solution. Organisations also need thorough incident response plans to fully benefit from CSaaS models. Strategic plans enable swift action in times of crisis and streamlined collaboration with managed service providers (MSPs) and MDR partners. With MDR and holistic response planning, organisations can build a fully fledged security operation that can stand up against ever-intensifying threats.
MDR is the cornerstone of incident response planning
Active attacks can quickly become overwhelming. When the sirens go off, it can be complicated and stressful to manage multiple vendors, stakeholders, and deployment tools. Without the guidance of an incident response plan, it can be difficult for leadership to understand the severity of an attack, and align on their roles and responsibilities throughout the remediation process.
Internal misalignment extends response time as the leadership team scrambles to clarify processes and determine who has decision-making authority. It can even be unclear who to notify in the event of an attack.
Fortunately, the development of a proactive response plan allows internal teams to evaluate different response protocols through rigorous mock scenarios and tabletop exercises. This practice helps organisations strengthen their response muscles throughout the development lifecycle and identify problems with existing processes.
It also gives stakeholders the opportunity to build internal alignment and prepare for integrating outsourced MDR. Powered by human-led threat hunting executed at scale, MDR can ensure that incidents are less likely to occur in the first place. In worst case scenarios, if incidents do occur, on-demand intervention from MDR partners reduces impact severity.
Throughout the entire incident response process – from initial threat detection, containment, and neutralisation to the removal of adversaries from the network – internal stakeholders, MSPs and MDR partners must collaborate to weigh business implications and determine the next steps. This is the criticality of a holistic incident response plan: It ensures all stakeholders understand their roles during the entire remediation lifecycle. This approach also enables a streamlined relationship between parties, which ultimately leads to faster threat neutralisation.
5 steps for thorough incident response planning
As you develop your incident response plan with MDR in mind, follow these five steps to achieve robust internal alignment and streamlined collaboration:
- Stay agile. Some aspects of your incident response plan require a flexible approach. Even after robust planning, be prepared to adapt to new threat evolutions and adjust your incident response plan accordingly.
- Prioritise cross-team collaboration. Cyberattacks affect all aspects of your organisation. Ensure all teams, including finance, legal, marketing, and IT are involved in decision-making and risk assessment.
- Maintain good IT environment hygiene. Robust IT environment hygiene minimises the likelihood of incidents occurring so routinely check your security controls and address any unpatched vulnerabilities, like open remote desktop protocol (RDP) ports.
- Keep a hard copy of your incident response plan. Always have a physical copy of your incident response plan on hand. In the event of a ransomware attack, digital copies of your plan could be among the files encrypted.
- Leverage MDR specialists with incident response experience. Even experienced internal security teams benefit from MDR operations teams with extensive industry knowledge. These providers are well-versed in the specific threats you face and know how to respond swiftly and effectively.
Don’t wait until after a cyberattack to invest in holistic incident response planning. With increasing rates of ransomware attacks and the rise of highly collaborative attack models, every organisation is a target. Your response plan should integrate on-demand threat intelligence with support from qualified partners.