What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan

A security incident can topple an organization’s reputation and revenue in a short amount of time. As billionaire Warren Buffet once said, “it takes 20 years to develop a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Keeping that in mind, it’s ideal to have an incident response plan in place before a security breach occurs.  

An incident response plan is a set of instructions intended to facilitate an organization in detecting, responding to, and recovering from network security incidents such as cybercrime, data loss, and service disruptions. Having a plan in place contributes to the development of cybersecurity as well as overall organizational resilience. 

Since most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have limited resources and funds, incident response is usually given less attention. However, failing to respond swiftly and effectively when a cyberattack occurs can cost far more than putting an incident response plan in place. 

Essential Elements of an Incident Response Plan

Every incident response plan should include the following five key elements in order to successfully address the wide range of security issues that an organization can face: 

Incident Identification and Rapid Response 

It’s critical to evaluate the threat effectively and decide whether to implement the incident response plan. This requires two prerequisites: 

  • An authorized person to initiate the plan 
  • An online/offline place for the incident response team to meet and discuss 

The sooner the incident is detected and addressed, the less severe the impact. 


In case of a cyber event, an incident response team will usually have emergency kits on hand and have the following resources to help navigate through the event: 

  • Tools to take all machines offline after forensic analysis 
  • Solutions to regulate access to the organization’s IT environment and keep hackers out of the network 
  • Measures to employ standby machines to ensure operational continuity 

Roles and Responsibilities 

An incident could occur in the middle of the night or at an unexpected time. That’s why it’s critical to establish the roles and responsibilities of your incident response team members. They could be called in at any time. You must also have a reserve team in case any of the primary contacts are unavailable. 

In the event of a cyber incident, time is critical and everyone must know what to do. 

Detection and Analysis 

This is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial elements of an incident response plan. It emphasizes documenting everything, from how an incident is detected to how to report, analyze and contain the threat. The aim is to create a playbook that includes approaches for detecting and analyzing a wide range of risks. 

Containment, Eradication, and Recovery 

  • Containment specifies the methods for restricting the incident’s scope. A ransomware attack, for example, must be tackled very differently compared to an insider threat.  
  • Eradication is all about techniques to eliminate a threat from all affected systems.  
  • Because incidents cannot always be prevented, recovery efforts concentrate on reducing potential harm and resuming operations as quickly as possible. 

Considerations for an Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan must address any concerns that arise from an evolving threat landscape. Before you start crafting your plan, there are several considerations to be made, including: 

  • Building an incident response plan should not be a one-off exercise. It should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it considers the most recent technical and environmental changes that may influence your organization. 
  • Your incident response plan and the team working on it must be supported and guided by top management. 
  • It’s critical to document the contact information of key personnel for emergency communication. 
  • Every person in the incident response team must maintain accountability. 
  • Deploy the appropriate tools and procedures to improve the effectiveness of the incident response. 
  • Your security, backup, and compliance postures must all be given the same attention. 

We live in an era where only resilient organizations can navigate through all the complexities created by technological advancements and other unexpected external influences. That’s why having an incident response plan is essential. 

Trying to develop and deploy an incident response plan on your own might be more than you can handle while running an organization. Partnering with a specialist like us can take the load off your shoulders and give you the advantage of having an expert on your side. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.