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Incident response is a plan for methodically responding to a cybersecurity incident. Measures are taken to rapidly contain, mitigate, and learn from the harm if an event is nefarious.

However, not every cybersecurity incident requires an investigation as they are not always serious. Certain events such as a single login failure by an employee on site does not need an in-depth investigation as it is not a major issue. However, it is important to keep a record of all these instances for future investigations.

Learning about the incident response life cycle and its framework will help you and your organization understand the accessibility of sensitive information, thereby allowing you to prevent breaches and mitigate threats by educating others and identifying vulnerabilities.

What Is Incident Response Life Cycle?

The incident response life cycle is the step-by-step process of a company to detect and respond to a service interruption or security threat. It is imperative to have an incident response plan in place to ensure data protection, avoid a breach of information, and protect the organization from being infiltrated.

Incident Response Plan Steps

It is always necessary to be prepared for a data breach incident as these days it has become a very common phenomenon. Incident response can be stressful when a vital asset is involved and you know that there is a potential danger. Incident response measures help in effective containment and recovery in these intense, high-pressure conditions. Response time is important for damage prevention; so, it is best to formulate certain incident response plan steps.

There are 2 institutes whose incident response management steps have become industry standards: NIST and SANS.

NIST Incident Response Process

NIST is an acronym for the National Standards and Technology Institute. It is a government agency that functions in various technical domains like cybersecurity and is popular for its incident reaction measures, the steps of which are:

  1. Preparation: Develop and implement necessary methods to protect critical infrastructure.
  2. Detection and analysis: To keep a regular check on systems, information assets, data, and operations, and manage security risks successfully.
  3. Containment, eradication, and recovery: To restore affected systems in minimal time.
  4. Post-incident activity: To take the necessary steps to avoid such incidents.

SANS Incident Response Process

The SANS Institute is a private organization founded in 1989 which offers information security research and education. It is the largest security training and certification provider in the world, and holds the largest collection of cybersecurity studies.

Its incident response plan is as follows:

  1. Preparation: An organization’s security policy is reviewed and codified, a risk assessment is carried out, sensitive assets are identified, critical security incidents are established, and a Computer Security Incident Response Team is formed (CSIRT).
  2. Identification: IT systems track and identify deviations from standard activities and see if they constitute real safety incidents. Gather additional information when an occurrence is detected, assess its form and severity, and log everything.
  3. Containment: Perform short-term containment by isolating the portion of the network that is under threat. Then, the focus is on long-term containment, which requires temporary adjustments to allow systems to be used in production while rebuilding clean systems.
  4. Eradication: Remove malware from all infected devices, acknowledge the root cause of the attack, and take steps in the future to avoid similar attacks.
  5. Recovery: To avoid further attacks, put the affected production systems back online. To ensure that they are back to normal operation, test, check, and track the affected systems.
  6. Lessons learned: Conduct a retrospective of the incident no later than two weeks from the conclusion of the incident. Prepare the full incident documentation, further investigate the incident, understand what was done to contain it, and whether anything could be enhanced in the incident response phase.

What Is the Difference Between NIST and SANS?

The framework and steps of both NIST and SANS are similar to each other in most ways barring a few differences:

  • NIST is a voluntary framework for all the companies seeking to reduce their overall security risks and threats, whereas SANS is for organizations who want priority-based results on their security response. They are mostly found in the IoT domain.
  • As mentioned earlier, the incident response steps of both the frameworks are also mostly similar barring one step which is containment, eradication, and recovery. NIST views the process of containment, eradication, and recovery as a single step having multiple components whereas SANS views them as independent steps.

What Is Incident Response Management?

Incident Response Management is an organized strategy to handle and manage the aftermath of a data breach or cyberattack, often referred to as an IT/computer/security incident. The goal is to manage the situation in a manner that limits damage and reduces the recovery time and cost.

A well-trained incident response team is the key to identifying and mitigating these threats, and companies are always on the lookout for well-qualified candidates. Becoming a certified professional in this field will increase your employability as employers seek folks who can handle these responsibilities from the get-go. Organizations often train in-house talent with certification programs as well, thus saving their time and boosting the company’s overall security profile in the process.

The Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) program of EC-Council has been designed in cooperation with experts worldwide in cybersecurity and incident handling and response. ECIH is a comprehensive incident management program at the professional level that imparts the expertise and information organizations need to mitigate the effects from both a financial and reputational viewpoint when managing any incident.