Incident Response (IR) Playbooks
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Posted on: October 17, 2020

What is an Incident Response Playbook?

In the cybersecurity domain, traditionally incidents have always been considered the trigger to deliver a response. Moreover, there are dedicated incident response teams within security teams of organizations that are focused on containing incidents. Given the significant change in the threat landscape, where response time is a critical aspect, this conventional approach to incident management is no longer effective. With the advent of innovative technologies, incident response teams have started to move beyond the traditional incident response approach to focus on all the elements of the threat landscape such as vulnerabilities, malware, and threat actors. As such, security teams are embracing proactive strategies to threats. These strategies are implemented with the help of modern incident response platforms, also known as threat response platforms, that are powered with advanced capabilities.

These platforms have built-in incident response playbooks (also known as IR playbooks and threat response playbooks) that are driven by modern security orchestration and automation technology (SOAR). These IR playbooks or threat response playbooks also leverage cyber fusion to correlate various threats and incidents and deliver an automated response. Cyber fusion empowers disparate internal security teams such as threat hunting, vulnerability management, threat intelligence, security operations center (SOC), and others to collaborate to deliver an effective incident response. Further, incident response playbooks leverage real-time threat intelligence and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) technologies to propel security operations.

Why Incident Response Playbooks are Needed


Many organizations still carry out labor-intensive and time-consuming incident response processes, which often creates serious barriers in recognizing high-value targets, gathering endpoint forensics, and conducting investigations. Performing such monotonous tasks for every threat can overburden security teams. Automating incident response with cybersecurity playbooks aids security teams in executing response workflows across on-premise and cloud environments at machine speed, delivering faster response based on better threat context. 

Using incident response playbooks, security teams can handle threats before they become attacks, understand them, and appropriately respond to them. These cybersecurity playbooks play a critical role in helping the security teams determine the “who, what, and where” of cyberattacks, corroborating forensic reports of targeted systems, taking quarantine and containment measures, and monitoring incident response KPIs. Security teams need to determine the internal departments, groups, and users that are affected. Understanding the “who” helps them prioritize high-value targets whereas the internal and external factors provide hints to malicious domains or IPs in security alerts. All these attributes are integrated into an incident response playbook with the ability to import and employ third-party intelligence to automate analysis. These aspects prove useful in identifying the victims as well as understanding the magnitude of a threat. Furthermore, the playbooks assist in eliminating false positives and preventing infections from spreading and data from exfiltration.


Incident Response Playbook Use Cases


Incident Response and Management


Security teams can easily manage incident triage, investigation, and its actioning within an automated response workflow. Incident response playbooks are powered with cyber fusion that allows collaboration between internal security teams for comprehensive threat response.

Streamlined Incident Triage


Incident response playbooks help in reducing analyst fatigue and minimizing false alarms by streamlining post-detection and incident triage steps followed by data enhancement, advanced correlation, and threat intelligence enrichment processes.

Malware Analysis


With the help of incident response playbooks, security teams can easily minimize the risk of malware infection by tracking and monitoring the malware-related activities, including mitigation and containment measures, analyzing significant detection parameters for indicators of compromise (IOCs) and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).

Vulnerability Management


Incident response playbooks prove useful in creating databases of vulnerabilities. This allows security teams to track, mitigate, and correlate with malware, threat actors, assets, and incidents to proactively respond to any opportunity for their exploitation.

Threat Actor Management


Security teams can stay ahead of threat actors by proactively tracking, managing, and taking action with complete visibility into their TTPs and IOCs through an action-oriented threat actor database driven by incident response playbooks.

Case Management Workflow


Using incident response playbooks, security teams can manage several related incidents or threats from a single place by leveraging threat intelligence ingestion, automated workflow, and sophisticated case management to reduce false alarms, noise, and overall mean-time-to-respond (MTTR).

Benefits of Incident Response Playbooks


Integrated Threat Response


Incident response playbooks allow security teams to move beyond basic incident management to a proactive response to all kinds of security threats, including vulnerabilities, malware, and threat actors. Such cybersecurity playbooks engage both digital assets and human analysts for the investigation.

Complex Correlations 


Incident response playbooks leverage cyber fusion technology to connect the dots between malware, vulnerabilities, threat actors, assets, and other data to provide insights into the threats hiding in an organization’s network. Cyber fusion equips response teams with predictive intelligence, empowering them to effectively break the cyber kill chain.

Advanced Orchestration and Automation


Incident response playbooks combine advanced orchestration and automation capabilities with asset and intelligence management along with unique features for threat briefings, enhancements, and action tracking, which enables comprehensive incident response and management.

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