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What is Incident Response?
Incident response is a security function within organizations that is tasked with the duty of handling and responding to cyberattacks. These cyberattacks can have damaging impacts for organizations ranging from intellectual property and sensitive data theft, to a considerable impact on a business’ operations and brand. The objective of incident response is to mitigate the impact of cyberattacks and, if possible, proactively undertake actions to remove any scope for a successful attack.
Who is responsible for Incident Response?
Ideally, incident response operations are handled by an organization’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT). The dedicated team is a group of experts who are primarily responsible for all security operations concerning the prevention and management of cyberattacks. A CSIRT follows their organization’s incident response plan (IRP) that defines their response to security incidents, network events, and confirmed breaches. Typically, the team consists of security analysts, an incident response manager, and threat researchers who collaboratively analyze incident data, review malicious observations and share threat information across the organization.
Incident Response Plan (SANS 6-Step Plan)
An organization must focus on preparing a concrete incident response plan in advance. An incident response methodology must be tried-and-tested before a cyberattack or data breach occurs. A few years ago, SANS Institute, one of the trusted resources for information security training as well as cybersecurity certifications and research, published a 6-step framework that companies must keep in mind while building incident response plans.
SANS’ 6-steps to an incident response plan:
An organization’s CSIRT needs to be aware of their security policies, whom to contact in case of an incident, and have access to the toolkits required to perform the actual incident response process. All the members of the team must participate in incident response drills in order to prepare for the incident response process.
The team should know where the incident occurred, who reported it, and how it was discovered. They must be able to detect the compromised areas, the scope of impact, and the sources of the incident. In other words, this is the process of identifying a breach and enabling a quick response.
After identification, one of the major steps is to contain the threat and prevent further damage. There are two types of containment—short-term and long-term. In short-term containment, an immediate response is taken to stop the threat from spreading and causing further damage. This can be achieved by taking the networks offline and counting on system backups to continue operations. Long-term containment involves resuming all systems to perform the standard business operations but without the accounts and backdoors that allowed the obtrusion.
The next process is to restore the affected systems. In this process, all the systems involved in the incident are reimaged and traces of the security incident are removed. Most importantly, organizations must update their defense systems to avert similar security incidents from occurring again.
Security teams need to confirm that the affected systems are recovered and functioning properly. Furthermore, they must set timelines to restore operations completely and continue monitoring for any abnormal activity within the network. At this stage, the cost of the damage can be calculated.
6. Lessons Learned
After an incident occurs, an incident response report must be documented that can help the team to improve its future efforts. The documentation can include the policies, response procedures, and decisions made as well as the lessons learned during the incident.
What is an Incident Response Platform?
To prevent attackers from succeeding, security teams need to create an incident response plan that is put into action using a robust incident response platform. An incident response platform is a tool used to deliver proactive and responsive countermeasures against cyberattacks. These countermeasures can be delivered both manually and using automation.
Incident response platforms focus on the detection of abnormalities, threat hunting, and real-time threat response via automated playbooks. Using these platforms, incident response can be strategically planned, orchestrated, and documented with incident reports for further analysis. The modern automated incident response platforms come with automated security playbooks designed to help contain and remediate breaches at machine speed using pre-configured workflows. Playbooks are planned workflows that automatically orchestrate responses across disparate tools and technologies to contain threats in real-time.
With the help of security automation, incident response platforms help security teams reduce the time and resources required to handle incidents and identify and remediate events that may have been skipped due to a lack of resources.
What is Threat Response?
Since the beginning, the focus of incident response teams has largely been around containing incidents. Moreover, the strategy has been reactive. However, with the advancement of technologies, now incident response teams can move beyond just incident response to focus on the larger threat dimensions such as malware, vulnerabilities, and threat actors. A response strategy that includes all dimensions of cyber threats is called a threat response and the technology and tools used to execute such strategies are called threat response platforms. A modern-day threat response platform leverages advanced technologies like cyber fusion to connect the dots between different threats and incidents and present a complete picture to the threat response teams. Cyber fusion technology also enables different internal security teams such as vulnerability management, threat hunting, security operations (SOC), threat intelligence, and other teams to join forces and collaborate over the common threat response platform to deliver an effective response. Furthermore, threat response platforms drive security operations using real-time threat intelligence and security orchestration and automation technologies.
The threat response platforms enable security teams to handle threats before they are weaponized into cyberattacks. Once a threat becomes an incident, a different approach to response is required. Understanding threats and leveraging advanced frameworks enable organizations to appropriately respond to them and also improves the sophistication of security teams.
Automation in Threat Response Platforms
Incident response focuses on four key areas—examining the “who, what, and where” of attacks, validating targeted system forensic reports, taking quarantine and containment actions, and tracking incident response KPIs. The focus on these areas helps security teams identify the infected users and the gravity of a threat. Furthermore, incident response assists in eliminating false positives and stopping the infections from unfurling and data from exfiltration.
However, at many organizations, incident response is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. Often, the slow process turns into unpleasant bottlenecks such as determining high-value targets, collecting endpoint forensics, and managing investigations. Repeating these mundane tasks for every incident can overburden security teams, therefore modernizing incident response with automation technology helps security teams in executing response workflows across deployed technologies (on-premise and cloud) at machine speed, deriving better threat context with advanced analysis, and making better decisions.
Security teams also need to promptly determine the internal users, departments, and groups that are affected. Understanding the “who” can help them prioritize high-value targets and the internal context as well as external factors can provide hints to suspicious domains or IPs in security alerts. All these factors are integrated into an automated response platform with the ability to import and utilize third-party intelligence to further automate analysis.
Cyware Threat Response Solution
CFTR is a comprehensive threat response platform designed to tackle all kinds of threats including malware, vulnerabilities, incidents, campaigns, and threat actors. Powered with unique cyber fusion technology, CFTR correlates different threats and thereby provides greater visibility and effective response. In addition, it comes with dedicated modules for complete threat intelligence management, digital asset management, action tracking, and threat briefing management that are essential to managing threats at a macro level.