There are some things that can only be accomplished by individuals or specific individuals. Incident response is one of them. Incident response cannot be automated, so having an incident response team ready to go before a data breach occurs is a smart move. Real people on the ground who can steer your company through a data breach are vital to ensuring the damage is minimized and the recovery process is fast.
What is the goal of an incident response team?
The incident response team’s objective is to minimize impact and restore operations as quickly as possible during a cyber security incident by coordinating and aligning the key resources and team members. Investigation and analysis, communications, training, awareness, documentation, and timeline development are among the critical duties involved.
The goal of an incident response team cannot be achieved without having the right people on the team from the beginning.
Who is on the incident response team?
Incident response teams require a number of core functions, and because every organization has unique staff sizes and skills, you may either have one individual perform two jobs or allocate multiple people to a single job, depending on how your team is composed.
The core functions of an incident response team include:
Team leader: coordinates and drives the team activity, keeping the team focused on mitigating damage and a speedy data breach recovery
IT leader: analyzes data and determines causes of a security breach, directs information security team, and implements rapid incident response plan for recovery
Communications lead: security breaches can have a detrimental impact on a company’s reputation, so the messaging for all relevant audiences within and external of the business requires specific and careful communication.
Documentation lead: all activities relating to the incident and security measures taken, especially investigation, data security tasks, and recovery, need to be documented in case forensic experts are brought in, to inform communications to affected parties and legal counsel, and determine if breach notification is required.
Legal counsel: as expected, a security incident can have legal and regulatory consequences, which potentially can involve law enforcement, requiring legal guidance and involvement.
Considerations when creating a data breach response team
Creating a team to handle a data breach or security incident is an important undertaking. Many companies are simply not equipped with enough skilled and experienced people internally and look to partially or completely outsource elements of the team to third parties, such as managed service providers (MSPs). This is particularly the case for small businesses that don’t have the skillset or people to manage a security incident.
Some considerations to keep in mind:
IT leads with strong support for higher management
When it comes to incident response in cybersecurity, IT should be leading the effort, with executive representation from each department, particularly legal counsel and communication. Active members of the team may not be senior executives of the business, it should be expected the C-suite will be active in communication and legal participation.
Clearly define roles and responsibilities
Mistakes are made when people aren’t clear about what their role is and the responsibilities that come with it. Separate from the incident response plan, have a document that clearly outlines the team member roles and communicate these expectations to the team, to ensure they are well informed and coordinated before a crisis occurs.
Be sure of skills and engagement
Cyber incident response team members should possess strong teamwork and communication abilities in addition to technical expertise and problem-solving skills. An effective incident response relies on cooperation and coordination, and therefore verbal and writing skills are crucial.
Be aware of availability
Most businesses operate on a 24/7/365 basis, and incident response teams are no exception. Living near the office can be a real asset when it comes to incident response team members, especially in cases where some onsite staff support is required. When describing incident response team roles and responsibilities, be clear, precise, and straightforward about expectations.
Consider a virtual or external team
You may not have enough personnel to assign every team member with a full-time job, so some members could serve as a virtual incident response team. A virtual incident response team works the same way as a volunteer fire department. When an incident occurs, team members are alerted immediately and assembled, and those who can assist will do so. The IT help desk is usually the first place people report incidents. The help desk employees can gather data and perform an initial investigation and then notify the cyber incident response team if it appears a serious incident has occurred. Alternatively, if a skills shortage is creating an impediment to creating a data breach response team, outsource the IT and team lead roles to a third party such as a managed service provider who has the ability to monitor and respond to security breaches.
Get better data breach prevention
An organization's incident response team may recommend additional preventative measures after a data breach, such as using the ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform. Using the comprehensive cyber security tool, you can keep track of all of your organization's security needs and ensure that the right solutions are in place to prevent data breaches and improve your company's future safety.