Cyber Security Incident Response

Cyber security incident management is not a linear process; it's a cycle that consists of a preparation phase, an incident detection phase and a phase of incident containment, mitigation and recovery. The final phase consists of drawing lessons from the incident in order to improve the process and prepare for future incidents. During this cycle communication with both internal and external stakeholders is of critical importance. 

Many organisations may not have the necessary in house expertise and skills to respond adequately to a cyber security incident. When they are facing an incident, they may need to call upon experts to contain the incident and/or to carry out forensic investigations. This does not mean that they cannot do anything themselves. On the contrary, there are a lot of things that can and should be done before an actual incident occurs. 

Drawing up an organisation's cyber security incident response plan is an important first step of cyber security incident management. It is also crucial that top management validates this plan and is involved in every step of the cyber security incident management cycle. The following elements should be included in the cyber security incident response plan:

• Identification of the assets that need to be protected; 

• Identification and assignment of responsibilities in the context of a cyber security incident; 

In house capabilities or contracts with external experts for incident response and/or forensic investigation in case of an actual cyber security incident; 

• The equipment and technology to detect and address a cyber security incident; 

• A basic containment strategy: disconnect the systems immediately in order to recover as quickly as possible? Or take the time to collect evidence against the cybercriminal who perpetrated the system? 

• A communication strategy for both internal and external stakeholders and for authorities such as law enforcement and the Privacy Commission. 

Finally organisations should consider taking out a cyber insurance. The cost of cyber security incidents often amounts to hundreds of thousands or even millions of euros. A reliable cyber insurance will cover at least a part of this cost. 

This Guide aims to draw attention to the importance of planning how to manage a cyber security incident ahead of time.