Every organization wants to believe they’re prepared for handling a breach or leak with unwavering expertise and grace. The problem is, there’s only so much a security team can do — even if you’ve employed some of the brightest minds and most experienced pros in the industry.

With the current cybersecurity skills shortage and ongoing uptick in cybercrime, it’s becoming more challenging to spread security resources evenly. And that can leave your company vulnerable.

The best way to combat this vulnerability and strengthen your cybersecurity is by shifting your security incident management process to focus on more proactive measures across the organization. This helps alleviate the tremendous burden on security pros and helps reduce your chances of becoming a cybercriminal’s next victim.

Here’s what you need to know:

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What is Security Incident Management?

Let’s back up a bit — what is security incident management in the first place? Security incident management refers to a process for resolving hacks, leaks, and other issues as quickly as possible to mitigate damage and minimize downtime. A thorough process consists of five steps:

  • Preparation
    This is the most critical step in any security incident management procedure. Even the best security team on the planet wouldn’t be effective without a well-designed plan outlining roles and responsibilities in the event of an incident.

  • Detection and reporting
    The next phase is to monitor for and detect security events using tech like actionable threat intelligence. This is also where the security team will document any initial findings and accommodate any necessary regulatory reporting efforts.

  • Analysis
    Understanding how the incident happened, who is involved, and what assets have been compromised generally accounts for the bulk of the incident management work. In some cases, depending on the scale of the incident, organizations may bring in a third-party forensics team to help with analysis efforts.

  • Containment
    After taking the time to understand the incident through analysis, the next step is to contain and neutralize the threat. This may involve a coordinated shutdown, wiping and rebuilding various systems, and blocking any known dangers — such as IP addresses or domains associated with the attack.

  • Post-incident management
    Finally, you’ll want to complete an incident report and continue carefully monitoring to ensure the same criminal activity doesn’t reappear or affect additional elements of your organization. This is also a great time to identify any preventative measures that could help your business avoid similar incidents in the future.

    (For example, if you discovered the issue originated because a cybercriminal cracked an employee’s poor password, you’ll need to educate that employee on best practices for passwords.)

As you can tell, this process requires a lot of heavy lifting from security professionals. By reducing the number of incidents, you can also improve your organization’s ability to plan for, address, and recover from attacks.

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4 Ways You Can Make Your Security Incident Management More Effective

So, what can you do to improve your security incident management? Here are four things we recommend for every organization:

  1. Hire and support the right security talent
    As you may have already noticed, this is becoming increasingly challenging. A shocking 70 percent of cybersecurity professionals claim their organization is impacted by the cybersecurity skills shortage, according to data shared by CSO.

    So, in addition to competitive salaries and benefits to entice new talent, it’s also a good idea to help your existing team by offering to pay for continued education to keep their skills sharp, and easing their burden by democratizing security within the workplace.

  2. Formalize your processes
    Don’t rely on ad-hoc efforts to quell cybersecurity threats. If you haven’t already, create a well-documented workflow for each type of incident, and make sure your processes address compliance requirements.

  3. Invest in better monitoring and analysis solutions
    You can (and should) lighten your security team’s load by investing in technology that helps them monitor for threats and analyze potential issues before they grow out-of-hand. But remember: even the best technology can’t help you if your organization isn’t taking all the necessary precautions.

  4. Focus on changing workforce security habits
    If you do nothing else, focus on addressing your organization’s culture and make security integral to every decision and activity. Educate your workforce on your company’s security processes and hold employees accountable for following them.

    This way, instead of running around patching otherwise avoidable incidents caused by employee negligence, security teams can focus on more proactive activities and prepare for new and evolving threats on the horizon.

Given the trends we’ve witnessed over the past few years, it’s safe to say security threats are only continuing to grow — in scope, frequency, and sophistication. To give your security team the best chance at protecting your organization, it’s critical you do everything possible to support the security incident management process, including ensuring everyone is doing their part.

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