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Templates for Automating Incident Response

Emily Arnott
|
7.20.2023
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Incident Management Process

 A security incident is the last thing any DevOps lead wants to see. Along with the vast number of protocols required to overcome an incident, there’s a hefty amount of paperwork to complete. Security incidents can even lead to legal repercussions, if personal data is leaked. Incident response templates offer insight into:

  • Incident type
  • Severity of incident
  • Repercussions of the incident
  • Departments and systems impacted by the incident
  • Response to the incident

An incident response plan template drastically reduces the time and effort spent dealing with incident reports. At Blameless, we believe in tools that give engineers more time to be innovative.

Automation and templates go hand in hand to mitigate incidents and minimize time spent dealing with them. Here, we’ll walk through the role of a cyber incident response plan template, its benefits, and an example of how it works.

What is an Incident Response Plan Template?

A cyber incident response plan template is a detailed outline of how your company reacts and documents cyber incidents. The template prefills standard information, simplifying the process for your DevOps lead and response team.

Some benefits of the templates include:

Flexibility 

Each response plan template includes items that can be modified or removed. The flexibility of these pre-filled forms keeps response plans fluid as they evolve based on type of breach, where, and by who or what.

Minimizing Repetition

Many incidents include the same set of required information and responses. Your response team would have to input the same information time and again, along with identifiers unique to each specific incident.

The template takes the tedious work and does it for you, leaving it flexible for changes where necessary.

Timeliness

When a security breach occurs, it’s important to document it right away. Having ready-to-go incident response plan templates saves time and ensures a report is filed as soon as possible.

Components of an Incident Response Plan Template 

Incident response plan templates can be tailored to your industry, business type, and even incident type. Most have a few of the same defining qualities, including:

  1. Purpose and objectives: The reason for the incident response
  2. Root cause analysis or contributing factors analysis: An investigation into the cause of the incident
  3. Notification protocols: for reporting and communicating the incident
  4. Delegating responsibilities: Labelling key players in incident management and recovery
  5. Recovery strategies: Detailing possible steps for mitigation, recovery, and prevention
  6. Postmortem or retrospective: Collecting and analyzing retrospective data
  7. Proactive planning: Implementing steps for improvement
  8. Pattern tracking: Strategizing based on patterns across multiple incidents

Your company may include additional points in your incident response plan template. Often, companies keep a variety of templates on hand for unique categories of incident occurrence.

Example of an Incident Response Template

Before designing or selecting a professional incident response plan template, it helps to see a sample. An incident response plan example offers a clear idea of how your company could fill in the blanks.

Incident response plans can be as simple or complex as necessary. The simpler the template, the easier it is to fill in. Here’s an example of a simple incident response plan for a service outage:

Example of an incident response template

The more information included in your response plan, the better. Some templates also include incident timelines and flowcharts.

Incident Classification and Severity Levels 

You should also include a specific classification of the incident and the severity of the classification. For example:

Incident classification and severity levels

Implementing Incident Response Templates

Implementing your incident response templates requires some knowledge of desired company outcomes. Templates are customized to suit each given incident and the needs of your organization. Some ways to streamline implementation include:

  • Customizing templates to reflect common incidents within your organization
  • Adding training protocols for incident response
  • Onboard team members and employees onto incident response plan protocols

Consistency is key in automating incident response. At Blameless, a big part of incident management is being proactive. Getting ahead of the next incident before it occurs.

5 Tips for Training Teams on the Incident Response Plan

As you begin training your teams on using an incident response plan template, consider these tips:

1. Assign a team (or team member) for incident response

2. Practice an incident response plan run-through together as a team

3. Develop a clear communication plan with a hierarchy for delivering information

4. Backup systems regularly

5. Prepare for the level 1 critical issue stuff with a disaster recovery plan

Benefits of Automated Incident Response

Planning ahead is a critical role of any successful DevOps team. Having a library of incident response templates at your fingertips keeps your DevOps team prepared.

Incident response planning is critical in DevOps. There’s no foolproof security software or protocols to avoid every incident type. Having steps in place to analyze, react, communicate, and fix incidents is key.

Having a thorough incident response template in place helps your DevOps team:

  • Save time
  • React effectively
  • Communicate with appropriate parties
  • Resolve issues properly
  • Potentially prevent the same incident from occurring again

Working with an expert in the field of incident response planning, like Blameless, allows you to automate much of this process. Blameless offers streamlined incident response processes. This lets your team react and collaborate in real time for effortless coordination and ongoing system security.

Contact Blameless

Blameless is a leader in incident management, incident response, incident communication, incident retrospectives, reliability insights, and SLO management. To learn more about Blameless and our approach to incident response plan templates, contact us today.

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