team discussing cyber security threats

What are the fundamentals of a strong cybersecurity incident response plan?

What are the fundamentals of a strong cybersecurity incident response plan?

Synopsis
4 Minute Read

Having an up-to-date, tested incident response plan in place is critical for an organization to endure a security breach with minimal privacy, financial, and reputational harm. A strong incident response plan is built on four fundamentals:

  1. Identify the essential assets
  2. Include the basics in your plan
  3. Ensure alignment
  4. Consistently test your response plan

Improving your incident response plan over time and preparing for recovery should also be a major focus of your cyber and privacy defence.

Partner, National Leader, Technology, Media & Telecommunications
Partner, Assurance & Accounting

Having an up-to-date, tested incident response plan in place is critical for an organization to endure a security breach with minimal privacy, financial, and reputational harm. This plan should address any type of privacy or security breach — not only cyberattacks. Consider that one of the largest privacy breaches in recent years, involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, had nothing to do with a cyber breach. While many cyber breaches lead to privacy breaches, not all privacy breaches arise from a cyber event.

Four incident response fundamentals that will protect your organization right now

A strong incident response plan is built on four fundamentals.

  1. Identify the essential assets
  2. You can’t protect everything because resources, money, and time are finite. Focus on what could cause the organization to cease to exist if attacked.

  3. Include the basics in your plan
  4. It’s easy to overlook the basics in your response plan, but they are vitally important for your insurer. They expect proof of fundamental security measures like cyber education, multi-factor authentication, and offline backups. This means you’ll need to ensure you can prove that you will take the right steps should an incident occur.

  5. Ensure alignment
  6. What’s most valuable? You need to establish alignment throughout the organization on what your most important assets are and reflect it in your plan.

  7. Consistently test your response plan
  8. Practice system testing and mock incidents because an incident will happen. IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 found that companies with a tested incident response plan saved an average of $1.76 million compared to those without these measures in place.

Long-term planning: How to improve your incident response plan over time

Make practicing a standard operational procedure

Involve the management team, the board, important stakeholders, and third-party security providers in tabletop incident response exercises. Schedule these several times a year to practice exactly how to deal with a cyber or privacy incident.

Be proactive

You can’t eliminate everything from going wrong. But if you're proactive and create a model of prevention that embeds privacy and security protective measures into the design of your operations, you can minimize harms from arising and the damage they cause when they do.

Educate your staff

To help teams understand and embrace a culture of security, develop a clear model regarding how advancing privacy and security measures will advance your organization’s goals. Then raise awareness of this across the entire organization.

Inform your customers

Customers want to know exactly what you’re doing with their information and how you’re protecting it. Give them control over their information and tell them, clearly and simply, what you are doing to keep that information safe. To build their trust, show them how you do privacy right.

Technology, Media, Telecommunications

MNP’s Technology, Media, Telecommunications team delivers the services and advice you need to reach your full potential.

Prepare for recovery

Preparing for recovery should be a major focus of your cyber and privacy defence.

As the saying goes: it’s not if you will experience a security breach, it’s when. If your organization doesn’t have plans in place to deal with this or you don’t practice response and recovery, chaos is more likely to ensue. This will magnify the repercussions to the organization and your stakeholders.

When you effectively address the issue, remediate it, and communicate your actions during a time of crisis, you win the appreciation and trust of employees, customers, and your other important stakeholders.

Cybersecurity is an ongoing evolution

To truly protect your business, cybersecurity needs to be a consistent focus of your leadership team. The landscape is constantly evolving, and protection measures that worked a year ago could now be exposing your team to risk.

Working with advisors can help you stay on top of cyber protection trends and ensure you stay ahead of the curve. To learn more about incident response plans, contact MNP’s Saad Shaikh or Reece Hiland.

Saad Shaikh CPA, CA

Partner, National Leader, Technology, Media & Telecommunications

416-263-6923

1-877-251-2922

[email protected]

Reece Hiland CPA, CA

Partner, Assurance & Accounting

647-943-4048

1-877-251-2922

[email protected]

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