Does Your Business Have a Cyber Incident Response Plan?

By David Howdle | February 26, 2024


In today's digitally driven landscape, the inevitability of a cyber incident is a reality that businesses, regardless of size, must face.

Managing responses to cyber incidents resides with each affected organisation. To ensure an effective response and prompt recovery in the event security controls fail to prevent an incident, all organisations should have a robust Cyber Incident Response Plan (CIRP) in place.

This comprehensive plan should be regularly tested, reviewed, and aligned with the organisation's incident, emergency, crisis, and business continuity arrangements, as well as jurisdictional and national cyber and emergency arrangements. An effective CIRP should empower personnel to fulfill their roles by clearly outlining their responsibilities and addressing all legal and regulatory obligations.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMBs) often underestimate the importance of having a robust CIRP in place. This oversight can leave them vulnerable to attacks and unprepared to respond effectively.

In this blog, we'll delve into the basic aspects of what a CIRP is, why it's essential for businesses to have, how to create one tailored to your business, and the importance of regular testing.

What is a Cyber Incident?

A cyber incident is any event that compromises the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organisation's information systems or data. This can include a wide range of events, such as:

  • Data breaches in which unauthorised individuals gain access to sensitive data.
  • Ransomware attacks that encrypt critical data and demand a ransom payment to decrypt it.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks that flood a network with traffic, making it unavailable to legitimate users.
  • Malware infections that install malicious software on an organisation's systems.
  • Phishing attacks that attempt to trick users into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.

What is a Cyber Incident Response Plan?

A CIRP is a structured approach that outlines the steps an organisation must take when a cyber incident occurs. It's a comprehensive strategy that helps minimise damage, recover data, and reduce recovery time and costs. In essence, a CIRP is your organisation's playbook for tackling cyber threats head-on.

For SMBs, a CIRP should be concise, clear, and tailored to the specific risks and resources of the business. It typically includes identification of key assets, roles and responsibilities, communication protocols, and a step-by-step guide for responding to different types of incidents.


Why is a CIRP Important for Small to Medium Businesses?

1. Proactive Defence

SMB's are often perceived as low-hanging fruit by cybercriminals. They may lack the extensive cyber security infrastructure of larger organisations, making them vulnerable targets. A CIRP serves as a proactive defence mechanism, helping SMB's prepare for, detect, and respond to potential threats effectively.

2. Regulatory Compliance

With the increasing emphasis on data protection regulations, having a CIRP is not just a good practice but often a legal requirement. Non-compliance can result in severe financial penalties and damage to the business's reputation.

3. Protecting Customer Trust

In an era where customer trust is paramount, a swift and effective response to a cyber incident is crucial. A well-executed CIRP can minimise the impact on customers, preserving their trust in your business.

4. Cyber Insurance Considerations

The presence of a CIRP can also be a factor considered by cyber insurance providers. Demonstrating a robust and well-implemented CIRP enhances your organisation's risk management profile, potentially leading to more favourable terms and coverage options in the increasingly complex landscape of cyber insurance.

Additionally, regular reviews and updates to your CIRP showcase your commitment to proactive cyber security measures, further bolstering your position when seeking comprehensive business coverage and protection against cyber threats.


How Do You Create a CIRP?

1. Risk Assessment

Begin by conducting a thorough risk assessment. Identify your critical assets, potential vulnerabilities, and the impact that a cyber incident could have on your business. This forms the foundation for your CIRP.

2. Define Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of individuals involved in the response process. From IT personnel to communication coordinators, marketing, front desk and even the back of house staff, everyone should know their part in mitigating the incident.

3. Communication Protocols

Establish clear communication protocols both internally and externally. This includes notifying employees, customers, and relevant authorities. See our previous blog around the Mandatory Notification Data Breach Scheme to provide some further clarity here.

Timely and accurate communication is essential in managing the fallout of a cyber incident.


How Do You Test a CIRP?

1. Tabletop Exercises

Conduct tabletop exercises, in a meeting room setting or in breakout groups, to simulate various cyber incidents This allows your team to practice their roles and refine the response process without actually deploying the physical response assets. It's a low-risk way to identify weaknesses and improve the plan.

2. Penetration Testing

Regularly engage in penetration testing to assess the effectiveness of your cyber security measures. This not only helps in identifying vulnerabilities but also tests the responsiveness of your CIRP in a controlled environment. Penetration testing can consist of web simulations, networking simulations or even social engineering where individuals within the organisation are targeted with specific attacks to test their responses.

3. Continuous Improvement

A CIRP is not a one-time effort. You must regularly review and update the plan based on the evolving threat landscape and changes in your business environment. Continuous improvement is key to staying ahead of potential cyber threats.

By implementing tabletop exercises, penetration testing, and a commitment to continuous improvement, organisations can effectively test and refine their CIRPs, ensuring they are well-prepared to respond to and mitigate cyber incidents.


How Can Diamond IT Help?

Our team of Business Technology Consultants are experts in assisting you locate potential threats or vulnerabilities in your organisation and suggesting ways in which you can mitigate or eliminate them to ensure your business is as secure as possible.

Combined with our Managed IT Services offering, which proactively supports customers in reducing risk and aligning with best practices, you can rest assured we have you covered.  

We offering a range of services that can help assess, support and test your cyber security posture including:

Contact our team today on 1300 307 907 and let us ensure your cyber security posture is as resilient as possible.



Cybercrime Statistic

TAGS: Managed IT Services, News and General, Cyber Security,

About David Howdle
David Howdle

Meet David, our Executive Manager for Operations. David is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. His extensive background spans a diverse range of organisations, from tech startups, where he played a pivotal role in shaping and driving growth, to global enterprises, where he successfully navigated complex challenges and orchestrated large-scale projects on a global scale.