What is a Cyber Incident Response Plan Template & Why Do You Need One?

Date: 25 May 2023

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A Cyber Incident Response Plan is a crucial document that outlines the steps and actions that a business must take in response to cybersecurity incidents. 

In today's complex threat landscape cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated every day. Having a well-defined incident response (IR) plan in place is essential for organisations to effectively tackle and mitigate the impact of cyber security incidents. 

Many organisations may not already have a well-defined incident response process or plan. In such a scenario, it can feel like a daunting task to get an incident response team together and then work on a response plan which should actually be effective. 

This is where Cyber Incident Response templates can really help and be a good start for you to get your security incident response capabilities in order.  

In this blog, we’ll look at: 

What is a Cyber Security Incident Response Plan Template?  

 An effective Security Incident Response Plan can be the ultimate saviour in case of security breaches. It’s like a guide or a manual on what exactly to do for good cybersecurity incident management. 

An Information Security Incident Response Plan should be to-the-point, free of fluff and should contain clear guidance on how to deal with cyber attacks. 

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Think of it as something like an aviation checklist that all pilots receive and are extensively trained in to deal with emergencies in air. These checklists contain clear instructions on what to do in case of different scenarios. 

For example, if one of the aeroplane’s engines fails mid-air, both pilots in the cockpit already know what to do from their muscle memory. They often have only a few seconds to avert a full-blown disaster. And more often than not, they’re able to contain emergencies simply because of this muscle memory. If there were no aviation checklists, we doubt you’d be getting on planes as often as you do!

Now apply that analogy to cyber security data breaches and attacks.

If and when you come under attack, you’ll probably have less than a few hours to take all critical steps to contain the damage and mitigate the impact of the incident. In order to do this effectively, you need an incident response plan. 

And if you don’t have an incident response plan already or aren’t necessarily happy with the one you have, you should use an Incident Response Plan Template created by experts. 

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An Incident Response Plan Template basically contains all the key steps that your organisational response plan must have but in generic terms. All you need to do is fill in your organisational context and you’re good to go. 

It specifies all the critical aspects of Incident Handling that security teams must prioritise. Some of these are as follows: 

  • Establishing an Incident Response Team and defining their roles and responsibilities
  • Developing an Incident Response Strategy
  • Creating an Incident Response Playbook
  • Conducting Risk Assessment and Vulnerability Management
  • Implementing Detection and Monitoring Systems
  • Defining Communication and Reporting Procedures
  • Training the key stakeholders in Cyber Incident Planning and Response
  • Testing the Incident Response plans and the team’s conversancy with them through regular Cyber Tabletop Exercises.  

At Cyber Management Alliance, we also offer very reasonable and remote-only Virtual Cyber Assistant services. These cybersecurity experts can help you create your own IR plans or review and revise your existing ones. 

We can also help you with creation or review of an Incident Response Playbook and Cybersecurity Policy so that you can boost your overall resilience to cyber attacks tremendously.          

Critical Steps in an Incident Response Plan Template 

We’ve discussed what a Cyber Incident Response Plan Template is and how it can be useful. Now let’s look at what the critical steps in an Incident Response Plan should be and these should typically be covered by your IR plan template: 

Step 1 - Preparation: This step, as the name suggests, is all about being ready for when an incident occurs. 

Create a Computer Security Incident Response Team comprising individuals from various departments with the necessary skills and knowledge. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to each team member and define reporting lines and escalation procedures.

This step will also entail creating a policy that outlines the goals and objectives of the incident response process. Specify the criteria for activating the plan, as well as the communication and decision-making protocols.

Developing a comprehensive playbook is also a part of this step. This IR playbook should include detailed procedures for each stage of incident response, from initial detection to recovery and remediation. Incorporate incident categorization, response priorities, and communication templates in this step. 

Step 2 - Define communication and reporting procedures: Establish clear communication channels and reporting mechanisms to ensure effective coordination and dissemination of information during an incident. This includes internal and external communication guidelines and predefined templates for notifications.

Step 3 - Identification: This step is all about identifying and assessing potential threats. Begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment of potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities specific to your organisation. This includes understanding the types of data you possess, the systems you use, and the potential impact of a breach on your critical assets.

Step 4 - Implement detection and monitoring systems: This step deals with the deployment of appropriate detection and monitoring systems to detect and respond to potential threats promptly. IDS, SIEM, and other tools to generate alerts and automate incident notifications are also part of this step. 

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Step 5 - Eradication & Recovery: This step dictates how the cause of a breach or compromise will be eradicated from your systems. In this step, you must also focus on what your Time to Recover objectives are and how they will be achieved. Proper Business Continuity Management comes into play here.    

Step 6 - Lessons Learned, Testing and Training: Regularly testing the incident response plans through cyber attack simulations and exercises is absolutely essential. This will help identify areas for improvement and enhance the team's readiness to handle real incidents. Providing ongoing training to team members and ensuring they stay up-to-date with the latest threats and response techniques is also important. As we discussed earlier, it’s the testing and the training that builds muscle memory in disaster recovery. And it’s this muscle memory that can save you from things spiralling out of control. 


A well-designed Cyber Incident Response Plan is crucial for organisations to effectively respond to and mitigate the impact of cyber incidents. A Cyber Security Incident Response Plan Template can help you achieve this goal. 

It can act as the perfect stencil on which you can build your own plan and cover all essential steps in good incident response. 

By establishing an incident response team, developing comprehensive policies and playbooks, implementing detection systems, and conducting regular testing and training, you can certainly minimise the potential damage caused by cyber threats. 

Remember, the hackers are coming and they’re coming for everyone - no matter how big or small. But preparation is the key to handling incidents swiftly and controlling the damage cyber criminals can cause. 

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