Verizon’s Incident Preparedness And Response Report Urges Businesses To ‘Be Prepared, Be Proactive And Practice, Practice, Practice’

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Incident Response Plans require frequent workouts to be fit for purpose

NEW YORK – Businesses are more aware than ever of how cybercrime could impact their reputation, and their bottom line. Annual reports such as the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report and the Verizon Insider Threat Report continue to flag those cyber-threats and trends that should be on every organization’s radar. However, while knowledge is essential in understanding the cyber-threat landscape, being prepared to deal with a cyber-security incident requires a much more comprehensive approach.

Based on three years (2016-2018) of Incident Response (IR) Plan assessments and data breach simulations conducted by Verizon for its customers, the Verizon Incident Preparedness and Response (VIPR) Report now gives organizations strategic guidance on creating effective and efficient IR Plans.

“Companies think that having an IR Plan on file means they are prepared for a cyber-attack. But often these plans haven’t been touched, updated or practiced in years and are not cyber-incident-ready,” comments Bryan Sartin, Executive Director, Verizon Global Security Services. “Having an out-of-date plan is just as bad as having no plan at all. IR Plans need to be treated as ‘living documents’, regularly updated, and breach scenarios practiced in order for them to be truly effective.”

John Grim from Verizon Threat Research Advisory Center (VTRAC) and Investigative Response Team adds, “IR Plans can be kept current by including stakeholder feedback, lessons learned from breach simulation testing as well as intelligence insights on the latest cyber-tactics being used. This enables the plan to constantly re-create itself reflecting the ever-changing cyber-security landscape.”

Six typical phases for incident response

Verizon experts have identified the six typical phases every IR Plan should contain, within which key takeaways are provided in order to help organizations maximise these areas.  An overview is as follows:

  1. Planning and preparation – This includes constructing the IR Plan to include key internal stakeholders and third parties – crucial for an effective response.
  2. Detection and validation – Detect and classify cyber-security incidents by severity level and source early in the IR process.
  3. Containment and eradication – Focus on containing and eradicating cyber-security threats.
  4. Collection and analysis – Collect and analyse evidence organisations to shed further light on cyber-security incidents; helping with effective data breach containment, eradication, remediation and recovery activities.
  5. Remediation and recovery – Provide remediation and recovery measures; specifically, describe those actions to not only ensure operations are recovered and restored to normal but to also prevent or mitigate future incidents.
  6. Assessment and adjustment – Feed post-incident lessons-learned results back into the IR Plan to improve cyber-security metrics, controls and practices.

The VIPR Report also includes five “Breach Simulation Kits” consisting of real-world scenarios to provide organizations with the content to facilitate their own mock incident table-top exercises in order to practise and perfect their IR Plan with stakeholders. These scenarios include crypto-jacking insider threat, a malware outbreak, cyber-espionage, as well as a cloud-related cyber-attack.


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