What is incident response readiness assessment?

Open source Incident Response Tools

During an ongoing cyberattack, time is of critical essence. Your incident response team must know what it needs to do. Detecting an incident and your subsequent response are crucial factors that determine the impact of a security incident. An incident response plan defines communication, roles, responsibilities, and resource allocation in a crisis. However, for this incident response plan to actually work, it requires a thorough evaluation in the context of your technical environment. 

Why do you need to test your incident response plan? 

Attackers remain on the constant hunt to target businesses across the globe. Moreover, their tools and techniques are only getting sophisticated over the years. In such a situation, a company shall not wait and watch for an attack to be successful. It needs to be proactive to assess, evaluate, and modify its incident response plan. If your incident response plan has been tried and tested for enough times, your security team will have a fair understanding of their roles and responsibilities. They can swiftly initiate mitigation measures and minimize your damages and downtime. 

Our security experts have been at the forefront of mitigating many large-scale cybersecurity incidents over the years. This “years of experience” translates into what works and what does not during a crisis. They incorporate their experience and best practices to improve your company’s ability to detect an incident and respond to it. In our constant endeavor to help businesses defend their technical infrastructure against advanced threats, 


LIFARS has recently introduced its Computer Security Incident Response (CSIRT) team to its clients as well as to the cybersecurity community. Its team members are well acquainted with the CSIRT/CERT community, as they are ex-members of a European governmental team. 


Components of an incident response readiness assessment 

IR readiness assessment analyzes your company’s logging and monitoring of security events, threat intelligence (TI) feeds, and capabilities of incident response team. Along with our years of experience, we incorporate best practices suggested by NIST and Software Engineering Institute. The result of an IR readiness assessment is detailed insights into your incident response posture and our recommendations for improvement. Majorly, there are three components: 

  1. Identification: In this component, the assessors look at your incident response team’s existing practices to understand how they function. They also look at the team composition of your incident response team and distribution of roles and responsibilities among the team members. 
  2. Analysis: This component involves conducting a tabletop exercise with your incident response team. This exercise helps the assessors in understanding how familiar your team members are with their roles and responsibilities. Further, they compare your existing incident response practices with best practices to identify the gaps. 
  3. Documentation & Reporting: While the assessors continue to document the critical findings throughout the assessment, they present their final observations in the form of a report. This report highlights the areas where gaps exist and provides recommendations for improvements. 

What are the areas an incident response readiness assessment may cover? 

A team of incident response experts may look at the following areas during an assessment: 

  • Authority
    • Is there a transparent distribution of roles and responsibilities?
    • Is there any defined communication route for escalation?
    • Does the incident response team lead have the power to make decisions that directly impact the company’s business?
  • Resource
    • Does the company have access to the required skills and expertise?
    • What is the availability of incident response specialists?
    • Does the company have third-party specialists available on call
  • Process and procedures
    • Are relevant process and procedures documented and communicated?
    • Are these policies and procedures in line with business objectives?
  • Reporting and documentation
    • Is the incident response team familiar with reporting expectations?
    • Is there a defined procedure for guiding the incident response team in reporting an incident?
    • Is the incident response team familiar with handling press?
  • Legal obligations
    • Is the incident response team familiar with legal obligations?
    • Are the relevant legal obligations documented?
    • Is the company aware of how the law enforcement agencies can help its team?Is the company required to report a data breach or security incident to a supervisory authority?
  • Practice
    • Does an incident response team conduct regular rehearsals?
    • Are backup and recovery procedures tested?
    • Is the incident response team familiar with the overall incident management framework?
  • Evidence Collection
    • Does the incident response team maintain a chain of custody for collected evidence?
    • Is there any documented procedure for collecting evidence during an incident?
    • Does the incident response team familiar with the value of evidence collected during an investigation?
  • Investigation
    • Does the incident response team consist of qualified professionals to perform forensic analysis?
    • Is the incident response team capable of performing malware analysis?
    • Does the incident response team possess the capability to triage a security event, explore unknown unknowns, and identify the root cause?
  • Remediation
    • Is the incident response team aware of possible remediation actions for a variety of threats?
    • Does the remediation process include suggesting improvements for future incidents?
    • What is the process adopted by the incident response team to confirm an incident before remediation?
  • Awareness
    • Is the incident response team capable of receiving and using threat intelligence?
    • Can the incident response team adapt to threat behaviors?
    • Is the incident response team well-versed with potential business implications of cyber attacks?
    • Can the incident response team implement dynamic remediation actions for minimizing the impact of attacks?
    • Is the incident response team familiar with the business context of the company?

Ending Notes 

Incident response is a crucial part of your overall security strategy. To ensure that it upgrades with evolving threats and sophisticated attacks, your company must conduct regular incident response readiness assessments. With our offices in NYC and Europe, we can deploy our team virtually anywhere in the world. LIFARS deploys cyber-attack response team to your local enterprise for effective incident response. Our specialist incident response team mitigates the attack surface, minimizes the extent of compromise, and the impact of a successful cyber-attack. Get in touch with us to request a free consultation with our experts! 


Recommended Readings: 

  1. Incident Management Capability Assessment by CMU’s Software Engineering Institute  
  2. Computer Security Incident Handling Guide: Recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology