IT Security Incident

IT Security Incident but no incident response capability?

This is a list of the major steps that should be performed when an IT professional believes that a serious incident has occurred and the organisation does not have an incident response capability available.

  1. Document everything. This effort includes every action that is performed, every piece of evidence, and every conversation with users, system owners, and others regarding the incident.
  2. Find a coworker who can provide assistance. Handling the incident will be much easier if two or more people work together. For example, one person can perform actions while the other documents them.
  3. Analyse the evidence to confirm that an incident has occurred. Perform additional research as necessary (e.g., Internet search engines, software documentation) to better understand the evidence. Reach out to other technical professionals within the organisation for additional help.
  4. Notify the appropriate people within the organisation. This should include the chief information officer (CIO), the head of information security, and the local security manager. Use discretion when discussing details of an incident with others; tell only the people who need to know and use communication mechanisms that are reasonably secure. (If the attacker has compromised email services, do not send emails about the incident.)
  5. Notify the National Cyber Security Centre and/or other external organisations for assistance in dealing with the incident.
  6. Stop the incident if it is still in progress. The most common way to do this is to disconnect affected systems from the network. In some cases, firewall and router configurations may need to be modified to stop network traffic that is part of an incident, such as a denial of service (DoS) attack.
  7. Preserve evidence from the incident. Make backups (preferably disk image backups, not file system backups) of affected systems. Make copies of log files that contain evidence related to the incident.
  8. Wipe out all effects of the incident. This effort includes malware infections, inappropriate materials (e.g., pirated software), Trojan horse files, and any other changes made to systems by incidents. If a system has been fully compromised, rebuild it from scratch or restore it from a known good backup.
  9. Identify and mitigate all vulnerabilities that were exploited. The incident may have occurred by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in operating systems or applications. It is critical to identify such vulnerabilities and eliminate or otherwise mitigate them so that the incident does not recur.
  10. Confirm that operations have been restored to normal. Make sure that data, applications, and other services affected by the incident have been returned to normal operations.
  11. Create a final report. This report should detail the incident handling process. It also should provide an executive summary of what happened and how a formal incident response capability would have helped to handle the situation, mitigate the risk, and limit the damage more quickly.
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