Adapting Incident Response Plans to Emerging Threats in 2024

Date: 7 March 2024

Cybersecurity threats are evolving faster than ever and so should your Cyber Incident Response Plan. It's time to dust off your existing Cybersecurity Incident Response Plans, Playbooks and Policies as you should do every year. You have to make sure they are relevant and fit-for-purpose for the new risks you face in the threat landscape of 2024

In this blog, we break down how you can evaluate where your current Incident Response Plan stands and how you can adapt and improve it to fit the evolving cyber crime landscape. Here's what we cover in the next few sections:

1. Review if your IR plans are fit for 2024

2. How to Adapt Plans to Emerging Threats

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Check your Plans for Relevance in 2024 

How do you assess if your plans are fit-for-purpose in 2024? You need to test the viability of your existing Cyber Response Plan against the current threat landscape.

The first and best way to do this is having your IR plans, process and Incident Response playbooks reviewed by an external cybersecurity expert. 

They bring a fresh pair of eyes to objectively review if your cybersecurity response plans will hold water in an actual incident. More importantly, they bring their nuanced perspective gathered over years of experience in helping global businesses improve their cyber resilience.

Their expertise built through real-world experiences of battling cyber crime on the frontline can be invaluable. You could opt for our cost-effective cybersecurity consultancy services which we discuss in greater detail later in this section.  

The next two steps that you could take are: 

  • Testing your Incident Response capabilities with a Cybersecurity Drill
  • Conducting a Cybersecurity Audit/Assessment based on the advice of your cybersecurity consultant  

Testing Cyber Incident Response Plans with Cybersecurity Drills

The definitive way to know if your plans are good for the current risk scenario is to test them with a Cyber Incident Response Tabletop Exercise. Cybersecurity Drills or Cyber Crisis Tabletop Exercises simulate a cyber attack scenario for specific participants from your organisation. 

These participants include all key decision-makers who’ll be fighting the attack on the front line. Apart from the IT and Incident Response team members, the participants must include senior management, key executive members, HR, PR and legal teams. 

The Cyber Drill facilitator who should ideally be an external expert will create a compelling incident response tabletop exercise scenario. An experienced facilitator will always have the skills to simulate a situation of panic and stress within the room. This draws out exactly the kind of response from your team as they’d display in the event of an actual attack. This also tests how conversant the key decision-makers are with what’s inside your cybersecurity incident response plan.     

An external facilitator is also completely objective and impartial adding tremendous value to your exercise. The unbiased feedback they share at the end of the session is the goldmine that you need to leverage to update and adapt your IR plans.  The feedback and recommendations make the gaps, loopholes and outdated methodology in your cyber response plan very apparent. And that's what you know you'll need to work on. 

If you’re wondering how to plan, conduct and host an effective Cyber Crisis Tabletop Exercise in your organisation, check out our Masterclass on Running an Effective Cyber Tabletop Exercise

While hiring an expert external facilitator is the best way to get the most out of your cyber drill, we understand that this may not always be possible. This is why we’ve created a bundle of invaluable resources that will help you conduct your exercise internally. 

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Audits and Assessments

Conducting cybersecurity audits and assessments specific to Cyber Incident Response, organisational breach readiness and overall cyber resilience are another great way to see what changes you may wish to make in your existing cyber posture. 

These audits and assessments can help you answer certain pertinent questions about your cyber incident response capabilities. These may include the following: 

  • Do we know exactly what to do in the immediate aftermath of an attack?  
  • Is the executive leadership ready to respond to a cyber attack? 
  • Is your technical staff able to accurately detect and rapidly respond to an advanced cyber-attacker? 
  • Does your PR & Communications team understand the nuances of a cyber-attack? 

If you want answers to these questions but you’re unsure which audit or assessment to conduct, let our expert cybersecurity consultants help you out. Our Virtual Cyber Assistant and Virtual Cyber Consultant services offer an unmatched value proposition in the cybersecurity market. You have complete flexibility to choose the service, the number of consultancy hours and a price point that matches your needs. 

Our cybersecurity experts can then help you decide which audit or assessment will accurately point you towards the improvements and updates you need to make in your cyber resilience plans and technology controls.

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Adapting Cyber Security Incident Response Plans in 2024

Consistently improvising on the Cyber Incident Planning and Response process may be imperative but it’s not as straightforward as it may sound. There are multiple facets of effective incident response that may need to be tweaked to achieve the level of cyber resilience required against future incidents. 

Here are some key steps to undertake this year to make your Cyber Incident Response Plan fit for the new, emerging threat landscape. 

  • Implement Lessons Learned:  Based on the results and findings of your cybersecurity audits, assessments and cyber tabletop exercises, you can make significant enhancements to your Incident Response Plan. The areas where the plan may be unclear, ineffective or silent, should be updated immediately.  

    This makes it easy for everyone involved to make the steps in these documents a part of their muscle memory. Most importantly, cyber attacks give you very little time before they cause major damage. It’s critical to keep cyber incident response plans and steps brief and highly effective. If you think your plan isn’t as succinct or useful as you’d like it to be, feel free to use our Incident Response Plan Example
  • Threat Intelligence: Speaking of organisational threat context, it is now essential to stay on top of emerging threats through advanced threat intelligence tools. 

    You might also want to take into account the top incident response tabletop scenario examples. Studying cyber attack scenarios that have been prevalent in the recent past can significantly strengthen your current incident response strategies.

  • Curated Cyber Attack Timelines: Read cybersecurity reports and recent cyber attack timelines to stay abreast with the threats that loom large today. 

    By analysing the methods and techniques used in past cyber attacks, you can judge if your Incident Response protocols make provisions for such tactics and techniques. You can discuss and debate internally how your organisation will respond if a certain real-world attack scenario were to hit you. You can also review the actions taken by victims of recent cyber attacks and assess what they did correctly and what went wrong. 

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  • Cyber Incident Planning & Response Training: Computer security incident response is ultimately as effective as those responding to an incident. You could have the best response strategies for security events. But if your executive leadership and security team aren’t familiar with what’s in your plans, chances of security breaches and ransomware attacks bringing your systems to a halt are high.

    Organisations for whom we've conducted our NCSC Assured Training in Cyber Incident Planning & Response as an internal workshop have reported a massive rise in employee awareness. The awareness isn't limited to cybersecurity incident response. The training helps staff members understand their own roles and responsibilities towards organisational cybersecurity and better prepares them for a cybersecurity incident. 

  • Cybersecurity Training for the Executive: No matter how great your plans are, they need the complete support and sign-off of your senior leadership. After all, they're the ones accountable to the Board, shareholders and customers in case of a cybersecurity breach. 

    Our Executive Cybersecurity Awareness Sessions engage senior leadership in the organisational threat context through brief 45-minute sessions. These awareness training programmes focus on the decision-making processes during a cyber incident. They help the management understand law enforcement requirements and underline the need for effective communication strategies both within the organisation and with external stakeholders. 

    We also highly recommend executive cyber tabletop exercises curated specifically for senior management to overhaul the leadership stance towards security incident preparedness. 

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Final Word 

Cybersecurity threats are evolving more rapidly than ever before, necessitating a dynamic and forward-looking approach to incident response planning. By integrating the strategies we discussed above, you can be fairly certain that your Incident Response Plan will not only be fit for the cybersecurity threats of 2024 but also be resilient enough to adapt to the evolving cyber threat landscape beyond this year.

Change is the only constant in the world of cybersecurity. And remember, that if you fail to change and adapt, chances are high that you'll fail to sail through a cyber attack. 

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