February 15, 2017 By Ahmed Saleh 3 min read

A recent IBM and Ponemon Institute survey including more than 2,400 security professionals worldwide turned up some astounding findings. More than half (53 percent) of respondents said they had suffered at least one data breach in the past two years. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) held that they had faced threats from human error in the past year. However, only 25 percent reported having an incident management plan in place to address a computer network breach, and two-thirds (66 percent) expressed a lack of confidence in their company’s ability to effectively recover from an attack.

Planning an Incident Management Strategy

The report, together with Ponemon’s annual “Cost of Data Breach Study,” put the average financial impact of a data breach at $4 million. Both studies highlighted the proactive preparedness that is critical in today’s complex and evolving threat landscape.

Read the white paper: Dealing with a data breach — Before, During and After

To succeed in a highly contested space, organizations need comprehensive, robust and holistic security and threat intelligence capabilities. As criminals become increasingly sophisticated, better organized, persistent and financially motivated, IT managers must implement a platform that brings together intelligent, resilient and orchestrated defenses.

Central to any strategy is a planned, communicated, rehearsed and organizationally tailored incident management program. It must be a combination of people, process and technology.

Gathering Information

To defend and recover from a cyberattack, you should gather and understand critical facts with minimal delay. Answer questions including:

  • How did the attackers get in?
  • How are they continuing to operate within your environment?
  • Why are they here?
  • What can you expect to happen next?
  • What do we know about their tools and methodologies?
  • What do you need to do to prevent their continued access?

For many organizations, pulling together this information is an overwhelming task. In some cases, it happens in a vacuum absent the necessary support and intelligence. If you’re answering these questions on the fly and going it alone, your organization will struggle. Invest time and resources now, and the return on investment (ROI) will be self-evident. You can prepare by taking the following steps:

  • Document your plan’s current state and test it often.
  • Identify any gaps and document a plan to address them.
  • Conduct routine maturity assessments, program development and planning initiatives.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your controls.

Communication Is Key

Make communication a central component of your plan and define clear roles and responsibilities to avoid ambiguity and confusion. When an attack occurs, security team members and stakeholders all the way up to the C-suite should focus on reacting instead of responding. Rely on the people, process and technology you established as part of your preparation phase.

The preparation phase strengthens your team’s communication and experience while reducing financial and reputational loss to the organization and its customers. It’s critical to investigate active threats and extinguish attacks as quickly as possible. When properly applied, an effective incident response plan will add velocity and precision to any scenario. To respond quickly and effectively, the entire team needs a well-managed communication and execution plan.

No Time to Rest

Dealing with a cyberattack can be exhausting. Unfortunately, there is no good time to rest, not even when an attack and its ongoing impact are contained. That is the time to look back and determine what went right and what went wrong, and then incorporate what you’ve learned into planning for the next attack. Document findings and gaps, control deficiencies and prioritize them to completion. This needs to occur not only within your environment, but also within your incident response program itself.

No one is alone. In fact, having the ability to rely on industry experts as your partners will benefit your organization exponentially. Lean on their experience, threat intelligence and capabilities to catapult your security posture.

At IBM, we have the industry’s top security, incident response and intelligence experts. As an IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS) leader, I can help you cross the incident response chasm, build a holistic program and better prepare to deal with and thwart the security challenges you face today and in the future. A cyberattack doesn’t have to yield a data breach.

Read the white paper: Dealing with a data breach — Before, During and After

More from Incident Response

What cybersecurity pros can learn from first responders

4 min read - Though they may initially seem very different, there are some compelling similarities between cybersecurity professionals and traditional first responders like police and EMTs. After all, in a world where a cyberattack on critical infrastructure could cause untold damage and harm, cyber responders must be ready for anything. But are they actually prepared? Compared to the readiness of traditional first responders, how do cybersecurity professionals in incident response stand up? Let’s dig deeper into whether the same sense of urgency exists…

X-Force uncovers global NetScaler Gateway credential harvesting campaign

6 min read - This post was made possible through the contributions of Bastien Lardy, Sebastiano Marinaccio and Ruben Castillo. In September of 2023, X-Force uncovered a campaign where attackers were exploiting the vulnerability identified in CVE-2023-3519 to attack unpatched NetScaler Gateways to insert a malicious script into the HTML content of the authentication web page to capture user credentials. The campaign is another example of increased interest from cyber criminals in credentials. The 2023 X-Force cloud threat report found that 67% of cloud-related…

Tequila OS 2.0: The first forensic Linux distribution in Latin America

3 min read - Incident response teams are stretched thin, and the threats are only intensifying. But new tools are helping bridge the gap for cybersecurity pros in Latin America. IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2023 found that 12% of the security incidents X-force responded to were in Latin America. In comparison, 31% were in the Asia-Pacific, followed by Europe with 28%, North America with 25% and the Middle East with 4%. In the Latin American region, Brazil had 67% of incidents that…

Alert fatigue: A 911 cyber call center that never sleeps

4 min read - Imagine running a 911 call center where the switchboard is constantly lit up with incoming calls. The initial question, “What’s your emergency, please?” aims to funnel the event to the right responder for triage and assessment. Over the course of your shift, requests could range from soft-spoken “I’m having a heart attack” pleas to “Where’s my pizza?” freak-outs eating up important resources. Now add into the mix a volume of calls that burnout kicks in and important threats are missed.…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today