Contact us: +45 32 67 26 26

Why Your Organization Needs An Emergency Cybersecurity Response Plan

Arooj Anwar
By: Arooj Anwar Cyber Security | 20 April

It's better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to safeguarding your business from cybercriminals. A cybersecurity incident response plan is an essential tool for any company as should the worst happen, you'll need a well-thought-out strategy to get back on track quickly and efficiently. Investing time into creating an optimal incident response plan can prove beneficial when it comes to safeguarding your company against malicious intruders. In this post we will share a series of steps on how to make an incident response plan for your organization and an emergency plan checklist that you can use to make sure you are prepared in the event of a phishing attack.  

What is an emergency response plan?  

An emergency response plan is a documented process that outlines the steps an organization must take in the event of a cybersecurity incident. This plan typically includes procedures for detecting, analyzing, eradicating, and recovering from cybersecurity incidents.

The goal of a cybersecurity emergency plan is to minimize damage and reduce recovery time by providing clear guidelines for employees to follow during an incident. It helps organizations to respond quickly and effectively to security incidents while also ensuring compliance with legal requirements and industry regulations.

The GDPR for example has 7 principles, each of which have several different requirements e.g., the GDPR requires that organizations must report a data breach within 72 hours of discovery when there is a risk to the individuals whose data was compromised.  

Why your organization needs an emergency cybersecurity response plan 

Having an emergency cybersecurity response plan is important for any organization. Cyber-attacks can really mess things up for your company - they can damage reputation, finances, and operations.

A response plan helps minimize the impact of a cyber-attack by giving employees clear guidelines to follow during an incident. The faster a company responds to a cybersecurity incident, the less damage they'll probably suffer. Plus, having a response plan ensures that everyone who needs to be involved in the incident response process knows what's going on and what they need to do.

We know that critical thinking usually goes out the window during a crisis. Everyone involved does what they think will help, sometimes without any coordination or long-term plan. That's why having a plan is important. We have plans for other types of emergencies, too - like fire drills in schools or big office buildings and for the same reasons we should also have plans for cybersecurity emergencies too.

It's also often required by regulations that companies have a response plan in place to protect sensitive data and information. So, it's definitely worth having a plan documented - that way you can show you're on top of things if something does happen.  

How do you write a cybersecurity incident response plan?  

When writing your emergency plan, it’s important to ensure that it covers all aspects of security from prevention to detection and response. Your plan should include specific steps for each stage of the process.  

To make a cybersecurity emergency plan, you can follow these general steps: 

  1. Identify potential threats and risks: Assess the types of cybersecurity incidents that could affect your organization, including phishing attacks, malware attacks, data breaches or insider threats. A risk analysis is one way you can evaluate the likelihood and severity of different risks your organization might face.  
  2. Establish an incident response team: Appoint a team of individuals with different roles and responsibilities who will be responsible for responding to cybersecurity incidents. 
  3. Develop an incident response plan: Create a plan that outlines the steps your organization will take in response to various types of security incidents. This should include procedures for containing and mitigating the impact of an attack, as well as notifying relevant stakeholders. 
  4. Test and refine your plan: Regularly test your incident response plan through phishing simulations to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. 
  5. Train employees in incident response procedures: Ensure all employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities during a cybersecurity incident and know how to report incidents to the appropriate departments. 
  6. Update your plan regularly: Keep your incident response plan up to date with the latest technologies, threat intelligence and best practices so it remains effective in protecting against evolving cyber threats.  

These steps should help you develop a comprehensive cybersecurity response plan tailored to your organization's needs. Once you have created your plan, you can make sure you have other resources that will be useful in the event of a security breach. Examples could include a variety of pre-written public statements or letters that you would need to send out in case of a breach and an incident event log. 

How often should you review your incident response plan?  

It is recommended that you review and update your cybersecurity emergency incident response plan at least once a year or whenever there are significant changes to your company's technology infrastructure, business operations, or threat landscape.

Additionally, it is important to regularly test the plan through simulations to identify any areas for improvement. You may need to review your response plan more frequently depending on your business. Your company’s risk analysis can help you figure out how vulnerable you are to attacks and depending on this you can decide how often to review your response plan.  

Creating a culture of awareness  

It is important for employees who have fallen victim to a phishing attack to notify their colleagues as well as the IT department. This will help to prevent others from falling victim to the same attack and can also alert the organization to any potential security vulnerabilities that may have been exploited by the cybercriminal. 

Additionally, warning colleagues about the phishing attack can help to create a culture of awareness within the organization. By sharing information about these attacks and working together to prevent them, employees can help to create a more secure environment for everyone. A strong security culture is something all organizations should strive for, since human error is the main cause of security breaches. 

The importance of testing your response plan  

It's all well and good to make a response plan for your business but it’s equally important to be able to test it to see if it works when your employees are under pressure during an attack.  The best way to know how your employees would react when a cyberattack takes place is through phishing simulations. To help you get started with phishing testing, we have a blog post with tips for doing effective phishing testing from start to finish.  

Testing your cybersecurity emergency response plan is important for several reasons: 

  1. Helps to Identify weaknesses: Testing helps identify any gaps or weaknesses in the plan that need to be addressed. This allows you to refine and improve the plan, making it more effective. 
  2. Familiarizes employees: Testing also helps familiarize employees with their roles and responsibilities during an incident, ensuring they know what to do when a real incident occurs. 
  3. Validates assumptions: Testing can validate assumptions made during the planning process, such as the availability of certain resources or the effectiveness of specific procedures. 
  4. Builds confidence: Regular testing builds confidence in the plan and helps ensure that everyone involved is prepared and knows what to do in an emergency.  

Overall, testing your cybersecurity emergency response plan is crucial for ensuring that your organization is prepared to effectively respond to a cyber-attack or other security incident and minimizing damage. 

How do phishing simulations work?  

In a phishing simulation an organization sends fraudulent, malicious-like emails to their employees and assesses their response behavior. They help evaluate the likelihood of each employee falling for a phishing attack. Phishing training and awareness training are at a relatively low cost by which you can transform your employees into a human firewall. Not only can they help to protect your organization’s data, but they can encourage team building through healthy competition, and create a long-lasting culture of security in your company.  

With CyberPilot you get to plan your phishing campaigns with our experts directly in the app. This streamlines the process, allowing you to quickly set up effective phishing simulations for your company.

Does phishing training work? 

Phishing simulations serve to not only test how well the procedure works, but they also build your organization's resilience to threats. At CyberPilot, we recently conducted research to learn about how our phishing training impacts our users’ abilities to resist phishing attacks. We found that with continues phishing testing and awareness training our users had a 60% decrease in mistakes made during simulated phishing attacks. If you want to know about how phishing awareness training reduces the risk of employees falling for phishing attacks, then please check out our blogpost “Does phishing training work? Yes! Here’s proof”.  

Cybersecurity incident response plan checklist 

Before we wrap up, we wanted to leave you with an emergency plan checklist: 

  1. Conduct a company-wide risk assessment to identify the likelihood vs. severity of risks in key areas. 
  2. Identify key team members and stakeholders to build transparency around who is in charge of   handling phishing incidents. 
  3. Define security incident types to specify what counts as an incident and who oversees activating that plan.  
  4. Take an inventory of resources and assets. This could include employees, working space, equipment, or capital. 
  5. Outline the sequence of information flow. Look at your assets and plan out what steps need to happen to kick off different processes.  
  6. Prepare a variety of public statements. Make sure you’ve got the appropriate data breach notification letters ready to go in advance to minimize reputational damage from security incidents.  
  7. Prepare an incident event log. Keep track of all steps taken during and after a cybersecurity incident so that you can gauge the efficacy of your response and learn lessons. This account will also support your legal team and law enforcement both during and after threat detection. 

In conclusion, having an effective cybersecurity incident response plan is essential for all organizations – regardless of size or industry – because cyber-attacks can occur at any time without warning. By establishing clear steps for identifying threats and responding appropriately in the event of an attack, you can minimize the damage caused by these incidents and ensure that your organization always remains safe. With regular reviews and updates, you can make sure that everyone within your organization knows exactly what actions need to be taken during an emergency so that you are always ready when disaster strikes!