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Learn the Incident Response Life Cycle - Best Practices and Strategies

Emily Arnott
|
12.1.2023

No company plans for a security breach, major outage, or other cyber incident, but they happen. When an incident occurs, having a standardized, regulated method of managing the fallout is critical. This is where the incident response life cycle comes in

What is The Incident Response Life Cycle?

 

When a security breach occurs, the incident response life cycle is a structured protocol used to manage the aftermath. It is designed to deal with cyber incidents in a way that ensures minimum downtime and damage.

There are several stages to the incident response life cycle. We’ll touch on each step in-depth throughout the blog. The incident response life cycle isn’t limited to just fixing the problem. It continues long after the issue is resolved, ensuring steps are taken to prevent similar issues from occurring and implementing protocols to fix issues more effectively in the future.

How the NIST Standardizes the Incident Response Life Cycle 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) oversees the standardization of protocols to manage digital security and advancement. It provides a framework for the incident response life cycle to mitigate risk and streamline effective resolutions when incidents occur. The NIST incident response life cycle includes the following steps:

  • Preparation: Planning and Preparing for Incidents 
  • Detection and Analysis: Identifying and Assessing Incidents 
  • Containment: Preventing Further Damage 
  • Eradication and Recovery: Eliminating the Threat and Restoring Systems
  • Post-Event Activity: Reviewing and Learning from Incidents

This framework provides the basic stepping stones for any DevOps team to detect incidents earlier, eradicate them quickly, and minimize the chance of recurrence.

How Blameless Adapts The Incident Response Life Cycle for Enterprise Needs

Blameless is a leader in DevOps products and solutions. With vast experience with the incident response life cycle, Blameless adapted the process and refined it for enterprise client needs. These changes include the framework mentioned above. Here’s a further breakdown of each step:

  • Detection (Identifying Incidents): Detecting the incident quickly through continuous monitoring ensures you manage the issue quickly. Metrics, traces, and logs are useful to the effort. There are various tools to simplify the monitoring process, including AppDynamics, Prometheus, and Nagios.
  • Communication (Alerting the Response Team): Communication between teams is essential for a smooth resolution. An automated incident response platform is helpful in integrating any communication tools your organization uses between teams. This keeps everyone in the loop (like a virtual conference room).
  • Response (Mitigating and Containing Incidents): Once an incident is detected, it must be responded to. The context of the incident influences the team and protocol used to resolve it. A runbook is a useful tool for responding to common issues. It outlines the type of issue, response, and team required to handle it.
  • Resolution (Restoring Normal Operations): Several teams may be required to resolve the issue. Sometimes, a single developer can do the job. The information you gleaned during detection and response periods helps identify the team members for the resolution protocols.
  • Incident Retrospective (Learning from Incidents): The resolution of an incident isn’t the end of the incident response life cycle. It solves one issue but doesn’t necessarily ensure the issue won’t repeat itself. Ongoing analysis and learning are required to detect issues before they happen and manage them as fast as possible.
  • Improvement (Enhancing Incident Response Processes): Through analysis and learning, your team will discover ways to improve the system to reduce issues. Improvement is constant. It involves further monitoring, updates, training, and updating of runbooks.

Blameless offers a unique approach to the standard NIST incident response life cycle, focusing on the bigger picture involved in any incident.

Best Practices for Effective Incident Response 

 

Knowing the steps to respond to an incident and effectively managing an incident are two different things. To enhance your ability to consistently mitigate the risk of an incident, and quickly illuminate incidents as they occur, follow these best practices:

  • Timely Detection and Response: Ongoing monitoring ensures you detect risk early. Reaction times should be just as quick, leaving no room for the incident to worsen.
  • Clear Communication and Collaboration: Incident response requires a team effort across multiple departments. Clear communication is the key to a successful resolution.
  • Continuous Improvement of Incident Response: Resolution is never the final step. Ongoing improvement in incident response ensures each resolution comes faster and requires less work.

Working with an experienced software optimization team increases the efficiency of any incident response life cycle.

Conclusion

Blameless adaptation of the NIST process is designed based on the end user’s needs. It ensures a higher level of ongoing optimization to reduce future risk rather than simply fixing what is broken.

Leveraging Blameless for Incident Management Solutions

 Blameless is a pioneer in site reliability engineering (SRE) platforms. With an assortment of products and solutions for software developers and end users, you can count on Blameless for the latest in AI-enhanced incident detection and resolution, reporting, communication protocols, and more.

Start your free trial with Blameless today.

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