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The Incident Response Plan: The Next Layer of your Endpoint Security

IDC Survey Finds Over a Third of Businesses Hit by Ransomware

The Incident Response Plan: The Next Layer of your Endpoint Security

If your enterprise intends to take its endpoint security seriously, it needs an incident response plan. Full stop. No negotiations.  

Download Link to Gartner 2018 Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms

Why? Well for some context, “porous” best sums up the modern enterprise’s digital perimeter. As bring-your-own-devices (BYOD) cultures become more commonplace in enterprises—as more unique devices connect to the network, and as more enterprises embrace the potential of the cloud, determining where the enterprise perimeter begins and ends can prove an academic matter. Hackers thus have multiple attacks vectors to choose from to slip into the network and wreak havoc.

So while securing the perimeter through a next-generation endpoint security solution remains an important priority, your enterprise must also prepare for what happens if a digital threat actor does penetrate the network.     

But why does this mean you need an Incident Response Plan? How will an incident response plan facilitate your digital perimeter? What should your incident response plan contain?

Here’s what you need to know:

What Endpoint Security Does (And Why That Matters)

The first step to understanding why you need an incident response plan is to understand the full capabilities of endpoint security.

Endpoint security already offers huge preventative benefits to your digital perimeter. It provides firewalls to prevent traffic from unknown or suspicious sources. Next-generation anti-malware prevents threats from penetrating the network and uses threat intelligence to stay up-to-date on new attacks.

Additionally, many modern solutions can sandbox programs and applications it doesn’t recognize to make sure its intentions and functions prove benevolent. With EDR, perhaps the most crucial capability of modern endpoint protection platforms, endpoint security can even bolster your threat detection capabilities in collaboration with a SIEM solution.

However, endpoint security, like all cybersecurity, can’t function optimally in a vacuum. It requires strong supports and scaffolding to help ensure your enterprise’s safety in the digital marketplace.

Part of this means developing a full cybersecurity platform for your enterprise, integrating endpoint security with SIEM and identity and access management. However, It also means recognizing the one thing endpoint security can’t protect against: human error.

Why an Incident Response Plan Matters

No matter how large your enterprise’s network, no matter if your network remains on-premises, migrates to the cloud, or embraces a hybrid environment, no matter what databases and digital market presence you possess, the number one cybersecurity attack vector you face is your own employees.

Human errors cause the vast majority of cybersecurity incidents. Whether they configure a cloud database incorrectly, fall victim to a phishing attack, or share their passwords with each other via email, your perimeter is only as strong as the employees working within it. Their ignorance or neglect can put you on the hook for the substantial and ever-increasing costs of a data breach.  

Obviously, engaging and continual cybersecurity training can help your employees embrace best practices and thus supplement your endpoint security. However, even that won’t stop all digital threats. Unfortunately, no cybersecurity platform, no matters how strong, can stop 100% of the deluge of attacks bombarding the perimeter. The same principle applies to cybersecurity training; even the most observant and cautious employees can be fooled.   

This is where an incident response plan steps in.

What Should an Incident Response Plan Contain?

An incident response plan sounds complex, but in fact, it only clarifies a necessary emergency procedure; in many ways, it is no different from your emergency plans in case of a fire.

Ideally, an incident response plan outlines what employees should do if they suspect a breach: who they should speak to, how they should contact them, how to label their messages so it becomes a high priority, etc. From there, the plan should describe the next steps if the breach turns out to be legitimate. This includes:

  • Which individuals will be responsible for threat investigation, containment, and remediation?
  • Who handles the compliance paperwork? What are the important compliance documents located?
  • Which individuals contact the legal department? Who reaches out to the overseeing regulatory bodies?
  • How should employees contact the individuals affected by the breach?
  • Who contacts your public relations team, and what kind of messaging should they use?
  • What should employees do in the meantime to minimize disruption to their business processes?

Having the plan written out in detail will mitigate the panic which ensues during a breach, streamlines the remediation process, and ensures all of the relevant individuals receive information on the breach in a timely manner.

Your incident response plan could be written into your employee handbook, or be kept in a binder in the IT room. Having a physical copy instead of keeping it entirely digital may help ease some worries about finding it.

However, you can’t just have an incident response plan. You must also ensure your employees know the steps of the plan through training and infrequent drills. This will also enable you to recognize if an aspect of the IRP needs correction or reconsideration.  

Incident Response Plan and Endpoint Security

Remember, you still need an endpoint security solution to protect your digital perimeter. You should consider your incident response plan an emergency backup should something happen, you having an EPP will mitigate the number of threats you have to face.

Prevention and preparation form the core of cybersecurity. Don’t neglect one for the other.

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