A Complete Guide on Security Incident Management

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Apr 18, 2024

Security Incident Management

With increased dependence on cloud solutions, remote work, bring-your-own-device policies and other digital advancements, concepts like zero trust security, cyber insurance, and security incident response management are emerging as a trend.

The incident response market size is expected to reach $33.76 billion in 2023 as opposed to $11.05 billion in 2017. With malicious activities becoming more frequent, having an agile security incident management system for organizations is increasingly turning into a mandate rather than a choice. 

In this blog, let’s cover what exactly security incident management is, how to set up a framework for it and what are its best practices.

TL;DR

Objective: Implement a Risk Management Framework (RMF) based on NIST guidelines to identify and mitigate business risks.

Approach: Utilize structured processes to safeguard information systems, address cybersecurity concerns, and minimize potential impacts on finances, legal matters, and business stability.

Result: Achieve proactive risk management for resilient and secure systems, enhancing business stability.

What is Security Incident Management?

Security incident management is the process of detecting, analyzing, managing, and responding to security threats in an organization. It aims to minimize the damage contained by security incidents like data breaches, hacking, cyber attacks, system failures, and restore business continuity. Security incident management is the structured process that IT teams use from the inception of a breach to ensuring normal operations. It generally consists of four stages – identify, analyze, mitigate, and restore. 

The incidents may be deliberate attempts to harm the IT infrastructure of the company or simply accidental exposures to security perils. The responses are generated by the security incident management system in real time.

How is Security Incident Management helpful for organizations?

Security incidents can cause damage to the information assets of the organization, disrupt its operations, affect its reputation, have legal consequences and demoralize the stakeholders. Security incident management is a risk management strategy to safeguard the organization from such consequences and manage security breaches proactively.

Here is a sample incident management policy you can download:

Three ways to approach security incident management

Should we have a defence mechanism before a security incident occurs or respond effectively after the event happens? 

Check out these types of security incident management to understand the right approach to incident response:

Reactive incident response

Under this approach, security incidents are addressed as and when they arise. It begins with determining the causation of the event, containing its impact, and initiating steps for mitigation. A post-incident review is then carried out for system improvements.

Conducting a forensic analysis after a data breach to identify the root cause is an example of a reactive incident response.

Proactive incident response

Proactive incident response is an approach where preventive security measures are taken before the occurrence of an event to tighten the security of the IT infrastructure. The aim is to nip issues in the bud and stop them from becoming more serious.

Periodic risk assessments and vulnerability scans are examples of proactive incident response approach.

The Hybrid Approach: Best of Both Worlds

While proactive measures like data encryption, avoiding unauthorized access, etc are necessary, it is not possible to ward off security incidents completely. The chances of security accidents still prevail and that is why, there also must be a reactive incident response approach.

The best solution is a hybrid approach where the organization takes measures to prevent security breaches in the first place while having a plan for incident response in case of event occurrence.

How security incident management works

The process of handling incidents varies depending on the business context, type of incident, and policies, among many other factors. Generally speaking, the initial steps start with the investigation of the system or applications that display anomalous behavior. Common indications of a suspicious intrusion include a slowed-down system, inability to access files, and frozen screens. 

The security administrator will investigate these malfunctions to determine if the system is breached, in which case, they further analyze the type of attack, the depth of damage, and the right steps to contain it. 

Finally, the team implements the right steps to mitigate the incident and restore the system to ensure business continuity.

Steps to implement Security Incident Management

The goal of having a cybersecurity incident management framework is to reduce the response time and control the damage. So it is important to have a well-structured approach when laying down the framework.

Sprinto connects with your cloud stack to monitor the control checks and categorizes it into failing, passing, critical, and due in a single dashboard. This way, you get a centralized view of your assets to prioritize critical failures that may escalate into an incident and manage them on priority.

Here are the 6 steps to ensure security incident management:

1. Outlining the scope

The first step is to lay down policies and procedures for security incident management. The scope of events covered, types of data, and the required team should be defined. The organizations should also spell out what infrastructure will be needed, what kind of training must be provided and what kind of updated situational awareness is vital for incident handling.

The scope of your incident response strategy should be updated if you add any new regulatory compliance programs or add new incident response technologies to your system.

2. Communication channels

Depending upon the nature and size of the organization and the complexity of operations, there can be different departments that directly or indirectly contribute to security management. A proper incident response team with analysts and IT professionals must be employed with clearly specified functions. Then, there can be a legal and compliance team for ensuring security compliance, a PR team for communications etc.

Having communication channels to keep the trust of stakeholders and customers intact is also very crucial. In case of an event occurrence, internal communication for explaining the action plan and external communication for maintaining transparency about compromises should be smartly handled.

3. Incident detection plan

An incident identification procedure helps pinpoint early warning signs of malicious activity. Any unusual activity is highlighted through alerts and notifications. Red flags are then analyzed for entry source and severity of impact on business functions. The analysis determines the prioritization of incident handling.

Your incident response process and critical decisions should be approved by the senior management. It should also address the potential impact of future attacks in the business environment. 

4. Risk containment, eradication, and recovery

This is the stage where all the major work is done. Risk containment involves taking immediate steps to prevent the spread of the threat, risk eradication aims at treating the underlying cause, and risk recovery incline towards business continuity restoration.

So, if a network or system is infected, isolating it from other systems or shutting down services will be risk containment measures that will help control the spread. Forensic analysis will then be carried out to determine the root cause of the incident, followed by recovery measures like restoration of files from backups.

Sprinto Advantage

Sprinto empowers you to meticulously interpret risks and evaluate their impact, facilitating precise decision-making. It seamlessly integrates with your cloud infrastructure to identify misconfigurations and vulnerabilities, ensuring thorough risk assessment. Eliminate guesswork and build a reliable risk inventory using a robust risk register and industry benchmarks. Get a demo now.

5. Post-incident retrospective

A retrospective meeting should be conducted post recovery to discuss the wins and gaps. How did the issue arise, what was the immediate response of the team, what was missing in the collaboration efforts or infrastructure wise and what went well, everything should be discussed and documented.

6. Continuous monitoring and testing

As mentioned above, both reactive and proactive measures ensure security incident management. So, there should be periodic assessments and testing of security systems, threat scans, activity log checking, security audits etc. The purpose is to stay vigilant and put reliable security protocols in place for solid cyber resilience.

Stay Ahead with Automated Continuous Compliance

Top 3 Security Incident Management Tools

The best security incident management tool would be the one that suits the tailored requirements of your organization. But here are three best ones in the security market:

SolarWinds

SolarWinds has a comprehensive security event manager for threat detection, real-time responses and compliance reporting. You can zero in on log activities, authentication events, network traffic etc. The strategic dashboard has an intuitive UI with custom filters, historical data search, data export options for analysis etc.

Industries like healthcare, finance, government departments, education etc use the tool. You can have a free trial to get a fair idea of the scope of services. There are various plans depending upon the size and nature of operations. A team plan starts at $19 per month whereas an enterprise plan costs $89 per month.

G2 rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars, 260 reviews

IBM QRadar

IBM QRadar is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool that is driven by AI for automatic root-cause analysis and attack mapping. The automated workflows speed up the detection and response initiation. It also has pre-built compliance reporting templates and can be deployed on premises, on cloud or as a service depending upon your requirements.

It is best suited for medium and large enterprises in healthcare, finance, information security etc industries.

You can have a 14-day free trial and the price starts from $800 per month for cloud-based solutions.

G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 356 reviews

Splunk Enterprise Security

Splunk Enterprise Security has incident investigation and forensics solutions that leverage automation for threat investigation and response. It is feature-packed with risk alerts, 700+ threat detections, threat intelligence management and flexible deployment options. It integrated with a variety of tools like AWS, MongoDB, Google cloud Platform etc.

Splunk offers flexible pricing with plans according to workload, entity and ingest. It can cost you $1800 annually on an average.

G2 rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars, 367 reviews

Security Incident Management Best Practices

In order to ensure there’s consistency and effectiveness in security incident management systems and the reputation of the organization is never at stake, a set of best practices must be inculcated. Here are the ones you can count on:

A well-documented incident response plan

It is crucial to lay down a detailed guide covering all the ‘what, why and how(s)’ for unequivocal actions. This centralised document should be a go-to resource for the entire organization and should majorly cover the following aspects:

  • What counts as a security incident
  • How to identify, assess and respond to an incident
  • Checklist of segregated action plans for each threat
  • Compliance requirements
  • Learnings from previous threats

The document should be updated as new requirements arise and new threat discoveries are made.

Implementing systematized workflows

To ensure synchronized teamwork and avoid effort duplication, systematized workflows should be executed.

  • Define roles and responsibilities of incident response team
  • Automate incident identification
  • Streamline task assignment, tracking and reporting
  • Integrate tools for alerts, resolutions and closure

Risk containment and recovery measures

Sure you’ve set down preventative procedures, but it is important to have a risk containment and recovery plan in case of an incident. This is implemented in phases. The first phase is risk reduction. The purpose of risk containment is to stop the risk from spreading and turning into a havoc. If you’ve shut down and quarantine the infected system for risk containment, you’re done with the first phase. This will then be followed by backups for recovery. All these measures must be pre-decided for reactive incident handling.

Necessary Training and Tools

For proactive risk mitigation, an equally agile team is required along with automation and tools. It is important to equip your team with the necessary knowledge and give them hands-on training of integrated tools for incident management. Courses, education and drills for practical learning should be a part of the organization culture for a robust security posture.

Dynamic Adaptation Post Review

The security incidents that occur in the organization should act as a case study for identifying the gaps and weaknesses. A detailed review of the incident, the learnings from misfires and the initiatives required for better adaptation must be laid down for future-proofing against security breaches.

Sprinto for Incident Management

By now, you’ve grasped how important it is to be prepared for detecting and responding to security incidents especially when such events are ever-present. Security incident management should be an important part of your overall business strategy for improved efficiency and better reputation. But that doesn’t mean that the security teams should always be overloaded with complex tasks. Leverage automation and security incident management tools for help.

Sprinto as one such vulnerability and incident management tool is not only great at aggressive alerting but also helps you escalate incidents for prompt actions. Evidence collection for corrective measures is handled automatically in a way that supports audit requirements. Moreover, security and compliance go hand in hand with Sprinto. With real-time monitoring of security controls and keeping a check on compliance requirements, Sprinto adds the proactive security management angle to incident handling and bolsters the organization’s security defences.

Book a demo with our experts today to augment your organization’s security incident management capabilities.

FAQs

Why is security incident management important?

Security incidents can cause damage to the information assets of the organization, disrupt its operations, affect its reputation, have legal consequences and demoralize the stakeholders. Security incident management is a risk management strategy to safeguard the organization from such consequences and manage security breaches proactively.

What are the different types of security incidents?

Different types of security incidents include phishing attacks, ransomware, Denial-of-service( DoS) attacks, unauthorized access, network misconfiguration, data breaches etc. While there are many, these are some of the popular incidents that have become a problem for businesses.

How should organizations prepare for security incidents?

It is best to have a detailed security incident management plan which specifies the exact steps for detection, analysis and response. Next, proactive measures like firewalls, antivirus, vulnerability assessments etc. should be actively initiated to help protect the organization’s information assets.

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Payal is your friendly neighborhood compliance whiz! She turns perplexing compliance lingo into actionable advice about keeping your digital business safe and savvy. When she isn’t saving virtual worlds, she’s penning down poetic musings or lighting up local open mics. Cyber savvy by day, poet by night!

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