By Matthew Olney on October 19, 2023

What does a good cyber security Incident Response plan look like?

Cyber Security Testing, Industry Trends & Insights, Incident Response

It’s not a matter of whether your organisation will face a security incident but when. That's why a robust incident response plan is crucial. So what elements should your incident response plan include to be truly effective?


The Key Components of an Effective Incident Response Plan

Structure: Well-Structured and Straightforward

Simplicity and structure are your allies when creating an incident response plan. A complicated plan will only create confusion. Use charts, bullet points, and clear language to make it easily understandable.

Utilising Templates and Frameworks

Many organisations opt to use established frameworks ISO standards as templates for their plans. These frameworks offer a structured approach, providing sections and subsections that cover all essential areas, from governance to technical responses. By using a recognised framework, you not only ensure completeness but also facilitate easier communication with external parties who may be familiar with the framework.


Roles and Responsibilities: Who's in Charge?

An Incident Response Team (IRT), typically led by a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), should be designated to take charge during an incident. The plan should also specify roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder, from IT personnel to legal advisors.


Budget: Allocate Funds Wisely

Budget considerations must be part of the planning process. Allocate sufficient funds for personnel, technologies, and training. This allocation should be proportional to the organisation's size and risk profile.

Detection, Reporting, and Identification Procedures

Proactive Monitoring Systems - Your first line of defence is detecting an incident quickly. Invest in advanced monitoring systems and allocate personnel to supervise them round the clock. Integrity360’s Managed Detection and Response service and Managed Digital Risk Protection service has you covered when it comes to proactive monitoring and filling in any visibility gaps you may have.

Reporting and Identification

Streamline reporting protocols so that incidents can be rapidly identified and acted upon. Simplicity is key here, ensuring even the least technical person can report a problem.


Communication Strategies: Internal and External

The Importance of Good PR

Public Relations (PR) and your marketing team (if you have one) play a pivotal role in managing perceptions during an incident. Transparent, timely communication can mitigate panic, control misinformation, and maintain your organisation’s reputation.

Internal Communication Flow

Internal stakeholders need to be in the loop as well. Have a plan to keep everyone from top management to the frontline workers informed.

External Communication Plan

Customers, partners, suppliers, and sometimes the media will require timely and accurate updates. Your plan should specify who communicates this information, how, and when. A failure to report an incident to customers can land you in hot water with regulators and impact your reputation.

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Containment, Eradication, and Recovery Guidelines

Immediate and Long-term Containment

After identifying an incident, containment is the first priority. Your plan should have procedures for immediate and long-term containment actions, such as isolating affected systems or updating security protocols.

Eradication and Recovery

The plan must spell out how to find the root cause of an incident and eliminate it. It should also outline the steps to restore and validate system functionality for business operations to resume.

Training, Exercises, and Cyber Insurance

Performing Cyber Incident Exercises

Regularly scheduled simulated attack scenarios help keep your team prepared and your strategy up-to-date. It’s crucial for identifying gaps in your plan and rectifying them.

Integrity360’s cyber security testing and cyber risk assurance services can provide regular penetration testing, red team testing, vulnerability assessments and Cyber security risk Assessments.


The Role of Cyber Insurance

Cyber insurance can be a lifesaver, covering costs that can range from legal fees to ransom payments. Your incident response plan should clearly state how and when to engage your cyber insurance coverage.

Dos and Don'ts: Best Practices and Pitfalls


  • Train staff regularly
  • Update plans frequently
  • Communicate transparently
  • Analyse and learn from every incident


  • Ignore early warning signs
  • Underestimate the importance of employee training
  • Neglect to update stakeholders
  • Fail to adapt your strategy post-incident

The role of training, simulations, and cyber insurance are also crucial. Remember, a good plan is dynamic, so always be ready to adapt and evolve. By incorporating these elements, your organisation will not just be preparing for the worst-case scenario, but also building a resilient and secure operational environment for the future.

If you are worried about cyber threats or need help in improving your organisation’s visibility please  get in touch to find out how you can protect your organisation. 

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  1. How to customise an Incident Response Plan for small businesses? Small businesses might not have the same resources as larger corporations. A good incident response plan for a small business should be scaled to their specific needs, focusing on the most critical assets and functions. It should prioritise simplicity, clarity, and actionable steps that can be taken with limited cybersecurity personnel.

  2. What are the common challenges in implementing an Incident Response Plan and how to overcome them? One challenge could be ensuring all team members are fully trained and understand their roles within the plan. Another challenge might be maintaining the plan's effectiveness over time. Overcoming these challenges involves regular training sessions, continuous plan updates based on new threats and lessons learned from past incidents, and ensuring clear communication channels within the organisation.

  3. How to measure the effectiveness of an Incident Response Plan? The effectiveness of an incident response plan can be measured through regular testing, such as tabletop exercises or live drills, to ensure team readiness. Additionally, metrics like the time to detect, respond to, and recover from incidents can provide insights into the plan's effectiveness. Continuous improvement based on these metrics and feedback from incident post-mortems is crucial for maintaining a robust incident response capability.

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