Cyber security incident reporting is a tool in an organisation’s armoury and part of a layered defence system. Incident reporting provides the framework for effective incident management. But what is incident reporting, and why do you need it?
According to UK government research, four in ten UK businesses experienced a cyber attack in 2021. Cyber incidents can result in severe business impacts that include financial costs, with an average of over £8,000 per incident for a small business.
Knowing when a cyber incident happens can provide vital time to correctly deal with it and stop it from escalating. And as major incidents escalate, having the means to gather event data is an essential cog in a machine that prevents a cyber attack.
What is Incident Reporting
Incident reporting is used in many aspects of organisational life. Likely, you’ll already have incident reporting processes to handle health and safety incidents. Cyber security incident reporting is used in a similar way to record and act on cyber security events.
Cyber security incident reporting captures the details of an incident, such as a click on a phishing link, when it happens or shortly after. These details are then used to assess and triage the incident risk level; the incident escalated in line with that risk. An incident response team can then act on the information to mitigate the risk of the incident.
An incident response plan goes together with an incident reporting tool. Both are used to carry out a systematic and logical response to a cyber security incident to mitigate the impact of a cyber attack.
Effective incident management relies on a robust incident response plan. Together with an incident reporting tool that captures the details and provides the mechanism to escalate an incident, incident management can become a powerful process to reduce the impact of a cyber attack.
The Importance of Escalating Incidents
A cyber security incident can quickly become a major incident and impactful event. Ransomware is an excellent example of how quickly a simple incident can escalate, such as clicking a link in a phishing email.
Research from Microsoft has shown that a ransomware attack can infiltrate an enterprise network in four hours; some may even take less than 45 minutes to close down a company’s operations. Therefore, it is vital to swiftly close the door on a cyber incident to ensure its containment.
Once an employee has reported an incident, an automated incident reporting tool will begin the process of triage. This process has three key steps:
Record: an automated reporting tool uses consistent forms to more easily capture the important details of an incident. These details are used to determine the severity level of an incident. Guided questions help establish the details and remove ambiguity.
Remediate: once the incident has been captured by the incident reporting tool, it can be assessed. An advanced incident reporting platform will prioritise and manage an incident based on the company’s incident response policy. This aspect of incident reporting also provides vital evidence for regulatory compliance. An automated incident reporting tool will allow an organisation to generate reports for governance committees and regulators.
Report: handling cyber incidents requires intelligence on the cyber security landscape and how it affects an organisation. A cyber incident reporting tool should provide simple dashboards that reflect trends and patterns of cyber incidents that have impacted the company over time. This can be mapped to an incident response plan to optimise how the organisation handles cyber-attacks.
In addition, the data provides essential feedback to build more tailored Security Awareness Training sessions. Ultimately, the information gathered by the incident reporting platform provides the necessary intelligence to handle cyber attacks better.
Four Reasons Every Organisation Needs an Incident Response Plan
An incident reporting tool maps to an incident response plan. The incident response plan provides the framework to identify a breach and, from there, the steps and guidance to control the attack and limit the damage. In doing so, customer data is protected, and post-attack recovery can be carried out. This helps to prevent future attacks and ensure regulatory compliance is upheld.
Here are four reasons why an organisation needs a robust response plan:
Helps Resolve Incidents
An incident response plan is your go-to guide on what to do when a cyber incident occurs. The plan will set out a series of steps in handling any given incident scenario. Creating a plan helps to focus on a best practice approach to the problem. A robust and effective response plan will guide the response team and other stakeholders through a series of actions to minimise the damage of a cyber attack and mitigate any lasting impact.
Mitigates Major Incidents
Major incidents cost a business time, money, and reputation, and can severely affect employee morale. An incident response plan will provide necessary guidance when a major event happens. A readily available pre-prepared action plan is essential when a major incident occurs. Even seasoned security professionals can stall in the face of a major incident such as a ransomware attack. Having clear instructions ensures that incidents are mitigated quickly and effectively.
Improves Stakeholder Relations
Response plans must include key stakeholders and ensure they are alerted to major incident response and recovery progress. Cyber security incidents involve people and technology: a survey found that keeping even “non-essential” stakeholders informed of the progression of an incident response was vital to effective incident response.
Share Lessons Learned
Cyber security incidents will continue and require a rapid response to contain the impact. However, using a “lessons learned” approach helps mitigate a cyber attack’s damage and prevent future attacks. A robust response plan, informed by an automated incident reporting platform, always the data collected during an incident to form part of an effective “lessons learned” evaluation of an incident.