Incident Response Plans for Cybersecurity Breaches: A Guide

Cybersecurity incidents are costly, damaging and often undetectable for weeks on end. To make sure your business is prepared when a cyberattack strikes, you’ll want to have a thorough, structured incident response plan in place.

Why You Need an Incident Response Plan

According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 1 in 5 victims of cyber threats were small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). With fewer security measures in place, SMBs are especially vulnerable to these threats, with breaches costing upwards of $20,000 in many cases.

No matter its size, common types of cybersecurity threats businesses may face include:

  • Breach of confidential and sensitive information (such as healthcare records)
  • Theft of intellectual property
  • Theft of financial information (such as cardholder data)

They do this through methods such as:

  • Phishing: Sometimes called social engineering, phishing attacks occur “when an attacker pretends to be a trusted contact, and entices a user to click a malicious link, download a malicious file, or give them access to sensitive information.”
  • Credential stuffing: A cyber threat often difficult to detect is credential stuffing, which occurs when an attacker uses credentials that have been stolen or purchased off the dark web to access users’ accounts.
  • Weak passwords: Going hand in hand with credential stuffing, and a threat that is largely avoidable, is weak passwords. According to a 2019 Google survey, 65% of people use the same password across multiple accounts. Doing so increases the likelihood of a cybersecurity attack.

The consequences of cybersecurity breaches aren’t solely monetary. That said, the revenue loss that generally stems from cyber threats is severe in many cases. In fact, IBM Security found that in 2022, the average total cost of a data breach was $4.35 million.

Other costs businesses may face include:

  • Reputation damage
  • Legal fees
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Regulatory fines
  • Stolen intellectual property

Now more than ever, businesses of all sizes are at risk of cyber threats that exhaust their time, money and other resources. A robust incident response plan is the key to navigating data breaches while minimizing their impact.

What Is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is a structured method set out ahead of time on how you will respond to a cyberattack.

In many cases, cyber threats cause businesses to go into damage-control-mode, which can lead to chaos and prolong the costly aftermath of the breach. An incident response plan, however, is designed to mitigate any impending chaos and instead provide businesses with an organized and systematic means of overcoming cybersecurity incidents.

What Does an Incident Response Plan Include?

An incident response plan includes information about:

  • How the plan supports the business’s objectives
  • Who should respond to incidents and what they’re responsible for
  • What each piece of the incident response plan entails
  • How details about the incident will be communicated to the business’s employees, as well as external stakeholders
  • How to learn from past breaches to improve incident response in the future

This comprehensive checklist from Microsoft offers additional activities to develop a well-rounded and thoughtful incident response strategy.

The Risks of Not Having an Incident Response Plan

You can’t always prevent a cyberattack, but a well-thought-out incident response plan can lessen the impact of its aftermath.

Businesses without a continually updated plan risk the cybersecurity threats described above. What’s worse, it may take weeks or months for a business to detect a breach if there is no incident response plan. Failing to detect a threat in a timely manner only exacerbates the consequences of the incident.

How Sikich Can Help

It may be impossible to eliminate all the risks to your IT systems and data, but with the right partner and systems, you can reduce risks significantly. Partner with Sikich to build a proactive plan to meet your security goals.

Sikich provides several forms of cybersecurity measures, including:

  • IT audits
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Forensics
  • Risk assessments
  • Comprehensive policy development

We offer table top exercises for testing your incident response plan; this includes cyber incident response simulations for groups between eight and 60 people.

Further, our Compliance and Vulnerability Management Portal offers visibility into possible threats against your external network and details about scheduled vulnerability scans. Setup is simple, and the Sikich security experts are available to assist you every step of the way.

Request a consultation today to keep your network secure.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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