Building an Effective Cyber Incident Response Team
November 3, 2023

Building an Effective Cyber Incident Response Team: A Comprehensive Guide


In an era of constant “digital transformation”, cybersecurity has become more complex, involved, and uncertain. Companies, regardless of size or industry, face a barrage of cyber threats. In 2020 alone, cyber-attacks increased by nearly 600% due to the pandemic-induced shift to remote working. However, it’s not just about defending against threats but also about how effectively and swiftly you respond to them.

Enter the Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT). In this post, we’ll delve into the concept of incident response and guide you on how to use partners like DOF to build an effective CIRT for your organization.

The First Step – Understanding Incident Response

Incident Response (IR) refers to the process by which organizations address and manage the aftermath of a security breach or cyber attack. It’s not merely about mitigating the attack but understanding the root cause, preventing future incidents, and sometimes even liaising with law enforcement or notifying impacted parties of next steps.

Key Phases of Incident Response:

Preparation: Setting up the necessary tools, policies, and team to deal with potential incidents.
Identification: Detecting and acknowledging the breach.
Containment: Short-term and long-term measures to prevent further damage.
Eradication: Finding and eliminating the root cause of the breach.
Recovery: Restoring and validating system functionality for business operations.
Lessons Learned: Reviewing what went wrong, what was done correctly, and where improvements can be made.

The Importance of a Dedicated CIRT

While some organizations bundle incident response duties with their IT team, having a dedicated CIRT is crucial for several reasons:

Specialized Skills: Cyber threats are evolving, and a dedicated team can be trained specifically in response techniques. DOF is at the forefront of staying current with ongoing changes to malware and other malicious attacks.
Focused Response: Faster containment and eradication, reducing potential damage.
Consistent Learning: Dedicated teams are better positioned to learn from incidents, refine strategies, and provide training to the broader organization.

Building Your Cyber Incident Response Team

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Clearly define what you want your CIRT to achieve. Are they only addressing major breaches? Are they training staff? Documenting these objectives can guide recruitment and strategy and money spent on training.

Step 2: Find Your Partner

Your Partner should ideally consist of someone who can handle most if not all of these important roles in a team:

Incident Manager: Directs and coordinates the response.
Lead Investigator: Heads the technical investigation.
Threat Researchers: Stay updated on the latest threat landscape.
Forensic Experts: Handle evidence and conduct post-incident analysis.
Communications Lead: Manages internal and external communications, including PR.
Legal Advisor: Provides advice on legal implications and liaisons with law enforcement.

Step 3: Equip and Educate

Invest in the latest tools for detection, investigation, and mitigation. Regularly train your team on the latest threats and response techniques.

Step 4: Develop Policies and Procedures

Document every potential process—how to classify incidents, who to contact internally and externally, and steps for each phase of the response.

Step 5: Run Simulations

Periodically, simulate a cyber incident to test your team’s response time and effectiveness. This will keep them alert and can identify areas for improvement.

4. Building Bridges with External Entities

A proficient CIRT not only looks inward but outward. Build relationships with:

Other CIRTs: Share knowledge and collaborate on large-scale threats with similar entities around you.
Law Enforcement: Especially crucial if there are legal implications to a breach.
Regulatory Bodies: Ensure compliance with regional and industry-specific cybersecurity guidelines.

Continuous Improvement

The cyber landscape continually evolves. Hence, a robust CIRT isn’t a one-time effort. Regularly review and refine your strategies, tools, and skills.

DOF’s Thoughts

Building a Cyber Incident Response Team is an investment in your organization’s safety and reputation. In a world where cyber threats lurk in every corner, a proactive approach can mean the difference between a minor hiccup and a catastrophic breach. Equip, educate, and empower your CIRT to safeguard your organization’s digital frontier by implementing DOF’s custom-tailored solutions now. We specialize in strengthening your cyber response efforts at the highest possible level.

Get in touch with us today for a current evaluation and consultation on taking the next step in safeguarding your organization with DOF with a CIBT.