When everything is going well, it's pretty easy to plan and manage routine activities in any business process. But stress kicks in when we encounter an unexpected incident that risks radically damaging the functioning of the organization. It is quite difficult to decide what step to take under intense stress.
An unexpected incident that breaks through the barriers of the cybersecurity posture can cause all digital functions of the organization to stop. Therefore, these incidents need to be dealt with promptly and systematically. To deal with incidents quickly and effectively with minimal damage, cybersecurity teams need meticulously crafted guides.
In this article, we will talk about incident response playbooks, which are guides that facilitate incident management processes.
Incident response playbooks consist of checklists and documents that enable organizations' cybersecurity units to know the pattern to follow when an incident occurs.
The main purpose of preparing these playbooks is to enable cybersecurity teams to record incident response procedures in their minds as an automatic process - like riding a bicycle - and to carry out the process with an uninterrupted flow in moments of chaos.
Today's modern cybersecurity solutions automate incident response processes to minimize human error and save time. In automated incident management structures, playbooks include automated actions that will be triggered under certain conditions.
No matter how experienced and skilled the cybersecurity team is, organizations need playbooks that systematically express their routine practice of responding to incidents, as their technology infrastructure and cybersecurity postures are unique, and cyberattackers’ strategies vary.
It is vital for an organization's future that the team performs all incident response operations in near-perfect harmony. Because especially for modern digitalized companies, even seconds during cyber attacks can cause irreversible losses.
A well-prepared playbook enables a cybersecurity team to quickly understand the characteristics of the incident encountered, identify possible solutions, take the right actions, and overcome it with minimum damage to the organization.
If incident management is automated, playbook-driven cybersecurity solutions can overcome incidents even before they cause any damage.
Playbooks may vary according to the technological infrastructure of the security operations center (SOC) and the team's dynamics. However, the basic steps followed when creating a playbook are quite similar.
You can facilitate incident response management by preparing a practical playbook with the following 6 basic steps.
The cybersecurity team should know exactly when to follow the procedures in the playbook. Therefore, playbook creation begins with a clear statement of what is considered an "incident."
While determining this definition, incidents can be classified with additional terms such as “malware incident” or “major incident” response so that the level of alarm can be determined according to the class of the incident.
For a seamless and effective incident response process, all team members should have a clear understanding of their area of responsibility before the incident occurs. If two different units are trying to take action on the same issue, their actions may overlap, and the deadlock may become tighter and deeper. Or it may turn out that no unit operates at certain steps of the process, and as a result of this, the incident response flow gets interrupted. A confused incident response team can make things easier for the attacker.
The strategy followed by attackers and the tools used in each attack are different from each other. Of course, incident response teams also do not perform the same actions in all attacks. However, they can create a summary of the order and priority of the operations before they begin to take the steps leading to a solution.
A clear schematic of the critical steps of the process radically improves team communication and coordination. Units separately dealing with tasks without communication negatively affects the whole process.
Generation and authorization of response actions are the main purposes of creating a playbook. Prepare action maps that show what needs to be done in certain scenarios and lists of things to check when taking these actions.
These action maps should be very clear, and checklists should be inclusive so that the team, which continues the incident response process under stress, can perform every operation with near-perfect success. The team can perform these actions simultaneously or sequentially, depending on their role and position in the process flow.
Many factors, such as the structure of your organization, the industry in which it competes, and your cybersecurity vulnerabilities, can change the threats and attack vectors you encounter frequently.
Just like bookmarking a web page, you can add a compact walkthrough of common threats to your playbook. Your team spends time and effort identifying the most appropriate action maps to respond to the current threat, among dozens of them. If they have the information they need for the most common threats, they can also take shortcuts to the solution.
After the incidents are resolved, documenting the steps taken for the solution, challenges encountered, data and clues obtained, and evidential reports increase your accountability to legal authorities and allow your team to benefit from the experience gained in solving previous incidents. It also allows you to review the playbook and make the necessary adjustments easily.
In today's modern digital world, it is very difficult for security teams to manage all incidents with manual methods. Fortunately, with automation in security solutions, effort and time spent on even the most complex processes can be radically reduced. Advanced security automation tools take responsibility for many repetitive and effort-driven tasks from the cybersecurity team.
Just like for a cybersecurity team, playbooks containing effective response actions that can be taken in line with certain defined rules can be created for automated tools. An incident response automation tool playbook can be defined as a set of rules which get triggered due to one or more security events, and accordingly, a predefined action is executed with input data.
For example, an employee receives a targeted email from an attacker containing malicious links. Immediately, the malware incident response tool detects this event in real-time and triggers the corresponding playbook. This playbook examines the trustworthiness of the link and takes action, such as blocking the sender’s email from sending further emails or logging out the corresponding employee from the system.
Protecting your organization's digital assets with the most advanced solutions is vital for surviving in such a competitive industry.
If you need a next-gen cybersecurity product that offers automated incident response with effective playbooks, you can get a live demo of Logsign's best-in-class cybersecurity solutions and see Logsign in action.
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