What is Incident Response? All You Need to Know (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

What is Incident Response? All You Need to Know (2023)

What is Incident Response?

In the era of rapidly evolving cyber threats, organizations must stay vigilant and prepared to tackle various security incidents. An effective incident response strategy is vital for limiting damage, enabling quick recovery, and learning from incidents. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the world of incident response and provide a comprehensive guide to understanding its definition, process, plan, teams, tools, and best practices.


  • Incident response is an organized process for quickly and effectively managing cyber threats or security breaches to minimize damage and recover as quickly as possible.

  • It helps organizations identify, contain, and eliminate malicious threats by limiting the impact of data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents.

  • Incident response involves five distinct stages: preparation, detection and analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery. Post-incident activities such as debriefing and learning help to ensure that the organization is better prepared for future incidents.

Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. Protect your devices with the best antivirus software and your privacy with the best VPN service.

The Importance of Incident Response

With cyberattacks on the rise, having a solid incident response plan in place can help organizations limit the damage, get back on their feet quickly, and even learn from the incidents. When incident response is properly planned and follows best practices, it helps to reduce negative impacts and ensures the business is able to recover quickly. Malware outbreaks, DDoS attacks, and credential theft can all be highly disruptive if a company isn’t ready to handle them.

Regular testing of incident response plans is crucial to ensure their effectiveness and to identify any gaps. Cyberattacks can significantly damage brand reputation, resulting in customers leaving and the imposition of hefty fines. Having a plan in place to confidently answer key questions about an attack can not only improve an organization’s security posture, but also help with evaluating any potential legal or regulatory liabilities.

Defining Incident Response

Incident response is an essential part of maintaining cybersecurity. It is a set of policies and procedures that help identify, contain, and eliminate cyberattacks. An incident response plan is there to guide the organization during a crisis and ensure everyone knows their role and responsibilities. The incident response lifecycle involves preparing, identifying, containing, eradicating, recovering, and learning from any lessons.

Incident response teams typically include members from the executive, legal, HR, communications, and IT teams. As for tools, they usually consist of managed services, digital forensics, incident response plans, and security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platforms.

The Incident Response Team: Roles and Responsibilities

An incident response team is a cross-functional group that handles all the steps and processes needed for incident response. The incident response team has two main objectives. Firstly, to detect and respond to security events. Secondly, to reduce the business impact of these events. These teams, also known as CSIRTs, CIRTs, or CERTs, are essential in backing up security policies, processes, and tools.

Incident response teams can involve management, analysts, investigators, IT experts, legal, risk management, HR, and PR specialists. Non-security stakeholders, such as legal, risk managers, HR, and other business functions, can contribute valuable input in assessing legal implications, dealing with insider threats or data leaks, and ensuring everyone has the right information.

Key Components of an Incident Response Plan

An effective incident response plan is built on six essential elements: preparation, identification, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned. These elements are also reflected in the NIST incident response framework and the SANS Institute’s six-step plan.

It’s important to follow each phase in order, as each one builds upon the one before it.


Having a well-prepared incident response plan is key for responding to security incidents quickly and efficiently, helping to reduce the amount of damage, time needed to recover, and overall costs. The preparation phase entails reviewing security measures and policies, conducting a risk assessment, deciding how to respond to different types of incidents, refining policies and procedures, and setting up a plan for communication and assigning roles during an incident.

To get ready for an incident, organizations should review existing security measures and policies, carry out risk assessments, prioritize responses for different types of incidents, refine policies and procedures, and establish a communication plan with roles and responsibilities.


The identification phase of incident response involves analyzing events to determine if they could be a security incident, also known as the detection phase of incident response. This phase aims to uncover and analyze any suspicious activity, identify the type of attack, the attacker, their motives, and preserve any evidence collected for later use.


Once an incident has been identified, the containment phase aims to reduce the impact of the incident. Containing and eliminating threats quickly is essential for minimizing the impact of the incident.

As soon as a security incident is detected, the threat must be contained and prevented from causing further damage.


The eradication phase of incident response is all about removing and restoring any systems affected by a security incident. Eradication involves eliminating the threat and bringing affected systems back to their pre-incident state, such as removing malware, patching vulnerabilities, disabling breached accounts, and restoring affected systems.

To avoid reinfection and strengthen defenses, organizations should patch vulnerabilities, disable compromised accounts, and reimage compromised systems.


Recovering from an incident entails getting the affected systems and devices back to normal, determining the cause of the incident, and ensuring it does not happen again. Recovery is the fifth step in the incident response process.

Before returning affected systems to production, they must be secured and functioning properly by testing, monitoring, and validating them.

Lessons Learned

It is crucial to learn from an incident to prevent similar occurrences in the future, improve the incident response process, and enhance overall security. After dealing with simulated and real security incidents, response teams should review what happened, identify lessons learned, detect security gaps, suggest additional controls, brainstorm ways to improve processes, and update the incident response plan accordingly.

This review process should include a thorough analysis of the incident, including the root cause, the timeline of events, the impact, and the response. The review should also include an assessment of the effectiveness of the response and the effectiveness of the review.

Incident Response Frameworks and Standards

Incident response frameworks are standardized response plans designed to help organizations create and maintain effective incident response plans. Such frameworks are created by organizations with extensive security knowledge and experience, such as NIST, SANS Institute, ISO, and ISACA. The NIST incident response framework, for instance, is a comprehensive guide developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that outlines how to create an incident response plan, team, communication plan, and training scenarios.

Utilizing well-known frameworks and standards can provide valuable guidance for creating and adjusting incident response plans, ensuring that organizations follow best practices and have a solid foundation for responding to security incidents efficiently and effectively.

Cloud Incident Response

Cloud Incident Response is the process of responding to incidents occurring in cloud environments and includes steps like preparation, detection and analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery. Organizations using the cloud should be aware of data breaches, malicious actors, insider threats, DDoS attacks, malware, and ransomware, as these can all affect cloud environments.

Responding to incidents in the cloud involves adhering to best practices and guidelines, similar to on-premises incident response. Tools and technologies commonly used for cloud incident response include security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platforms, security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and cloud security monitoring tools.

Incident Response Tools and Technologies

Various tools and technologies are available for incident response, ranging from prevention, detection, to response. Incident response platforms are software solutions designed to guide, assist, and automate response efforts. Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platforms are a set of technologies that help security teams process, analyze, identify, and respond to security events with minimal or no manual intervention.

Organizations are increasingly adopting automation for incident response to reduce alert fatigue, automate alert triage, investigate and respond to threats automatically, automate ticketing and alerting, and free up human efforts for more important tasks. SOAR platforms can boost productivity, automate mundane and low-priority tasks, leverage existing security tools more effectively and contextually, and facilitate third-party tool integration.

Outsourcing vs. In-House Incident Response

When deciding whether to handle incident response internally or outsource it to external partners, organizations should consider factors such as having the right personnel, tools, budget, and the type and complexity of threats. Many service providers offer incident response services as part of their service package. These services can either be retained on a regular basis or in the event of an emergency. Pre-paid credits for incident response services, such as Unit 42 Retainers, can be used for other services if unused.

Companies like Cynet, which provide CyOps, can get their powerful endpoint detection and response (EDR) system up and running across thousands of endpoints in just two hours or less, providing rapid protection for enterprises.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) Platforms

SOAR platforms are efficient software solutions that allow security teams to combine and manage multiple security tools in one place, gather data, send alerts to security teams through a centralized platform similar to SIEM, and simplify and automate processes and workflows. By providing a centralized platform to gather data and alerts, streamline and automate processes and workflows, and unify different security tools, SOAR platforms can significantly improve incident response.

Using SOAR platforms can help automate manual processes, reduce the time needed to investigate and respond to incidents, and provide a single place to manage security tools. Furthermore, SOAR platforms can help address security culture challenges by unifying and automating security processes, freeing up time for security teams to focus on high-priority tasks.


In conclusion, incident response is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity, and organizations must be well-prepared to identify, contain, eradicate, and recover from security incidents. Developing an effective incident response plan and team, utilizing established frameworks and standards, leveraging cloud incident response capabilities, and adopting tools and technologies such as SOAR platforms can significantly improve an organization’s ability to tackle security incidents. By learning from past incidents and continuously refining response strategies, organizations can stay one step ahead of cyber threats and protect their valuable assets.

How to stay safe online:

  • Practice Strong Password Hygiene: Use a unique and complex password for each account. A password manager can help generate and store them. In addition, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever available.
  • Invest in Your Safety: Buying the best antivirus for Windows 11 is key for your online security. A high-quality antivirus like Norton, McAfee, or Bitdefender will safeguard your PC from various online threats, including malware, ransomware, and spyware.
  • Be Wary of Phishing Attempts: Be cautious when receiving suspicious communications that ask for personal information. Legitimate businesses will never ask for sensitive details via email or text. Before clicking on any links, ensure the sender's authenticity.
  • Stay Informed. We cover a wide range of cybersecurity topics on our blog. And there are several credible sources offering threat reports and recommendations, such as NIST, CISA, FBI, ENISA, Symantec, Verizon, Cisco, Crowdstrike, and many more.

Happy surfing!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

What is the meaning of incident response?

Incident response is an organized process for quickly and effectively managing cyber threats or security breaches to minimize damage and recover as quickly as possible. It helps organizations identify, contain, and eliminate malicious threats by limiting the impact of data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents.

What are the 5 phases in the incident response process?

Incident response involves five distinct stages: preparation, detection and analysis, containment, eradication, and recovery.

Post-incident activities such as debriefing and learning help to ensure that the organization is better prepared for future incidents.

What is incident response and why is it important?

Incident response is an organized process of identifying, responding to, and learning from security breaches, with the aim of limiting damage and protecting against future incidents. Its importance lies in minimizing the impact of cyber-attacks on organizations while preserving their critical systems and data.

What are the 7 steps in incident response?

As cybersecurity threats become increasingly complex, having a structured incident response plan is critical for successful containment. The seven steps in an incident response plan include Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery, Learning, and Re-testing.

All of these steps are important in ensuring an effective response to a security incident.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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