5 Successful Qualities of Cyber Incident Response Experts
Cyber incident responders respond to cyber incidents, which the Department of Homeland Security defines as “an event that could jeopardize the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of digital information or information systems” (n.d.). These professionals use their cybersecurity knowledge and skills to help organizations mitigate the damages caused by cyber incidents.
In the event of a cyberattack, an incident response team is responsible for containing the damage, investigating the cause of the attack, and restoring normal operations. An effective cyber incident response team comprises individuals with various skills and experience.
Below are five qualities that help make successful cyber incident response experts.
1. They Are Flexible
Cyberattacks can happen anytime, making it essential that response teams react quickly and effectively. Therefore, to be successful, cyber incident response experts must be flexible enough to deal with unexpected tasks or problems.
Cyber incident response experts play a vital role in the cybersecurity landscape. They’re responsible for investigating and responding to cyber incidents and providing guidance on cybersecurity best practices.
For these reasons, cyber incident response experts must be readily available and deeply understand the latest cybersecurity threats and trends. This allows them to quickly adapt to new circumstances and guide organizations on how best to protect against these threats.
Organizations rely on cyber incident response experts to help them recover from cyberattacks and breaches. However, there’s a global lack of incident response planning that’s best illustrated by the fact that:
- It takes 214 days to identify a malicious attack
- It takes 77 days to contain and recover from an attack
- 76% of organizations don’t have an incident response plan
- 74% of employers rate the difficulty in hiring skilled incident response experts as “very high.”
According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, the average data breach cost for organizations is USD 4.24 million. This is a 10% increase in the reported average cost between 2020 and 2021, with the healthcare sector being the most affected (IBM, 2021).
Given the time it takes to contain and recover from an attack, organizations increasingly rely on cyber incident response experts to resolve breaches. While these experts have the know-how to resolve cyber incidents quickly and efficiently, they must be readily available to address incidents as they arise.
2. They Are Collaborative
Successful cyber incident response experts are collaborative. They work with other cybersecurity professionals to resolve cyber incidents; their collaboration allows them to share knowledge and experience and helps ensure that cyber incidents are resolved quickly and effectively.
According to SECUDE (2020), taking a collaborative approach to cybersecurity can lead to the following:
- Globally disseminating threat intelligence, which is one of the best defenses against malicious attacks
- Providing real-time visibility, which bridges the gap between different departments in an organization
- Bringing in diverse expertise, which can help organizations better identify the gaps in their cyber defense
- Fostering private-public relationships, which ensures organizations follow government regulations while implementing security measures
Organizations have invested in various tools and security systems to protect their critical data and intellectual properties. Too many cybersecurity teams are monitoring and responding to incidents under assorted individual management.
The successful cyber incident response expert understands the need to collaborate and form an integrated solution among different teams. Failure to do so can leave an organization’s compartmentalized security operations vulnerable and exposed to a breach, especially as threats evolve.
Finally, cyber incident response experts cooperate with law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure that cyber incidents are handled appropriately. This collaboration is essential to protecting victims’ rights.
3. They Value Upskilling
Cyber incident response is a complex and ever-evolving field. Therefore, certified cyber incident response experts must continually improve their skills to manage cyber incident responses effectively.
These experts typically have a background in cybersecurity, computer science, or a related field. They use their skills and experience to identify cyber incidents, assess the damage, and develop plans to mitigate risks.
Experienced incident response analysts can guide responding to a cyber incident, help coordinate response efforts, and track progress. They’ll need to be able to develop and implement an effective cyber incident response plan.
A strong understanding of cybersecurity concepts and technologies is made possible through certifications like EC-Council’s Certified Incident Handler program, which provides incident handling training through modules that include:
- Introduction to incident handling and response
- Handling and responding to network security incidents
- Handling and responding to web application security incidents
- Handling and responding to cloud security incidents
- Handling and responding to email security incidents
- Handling and responding to cloud security incidents
- Handling and responding to malware incidents
- Incident handling and response process
- Forensic readiness and first response
The value of having incident handler certification cannot be overstated. It’s even more necessary now as the demand for qualified professionals who can appropriately respond to and mitigate security issues grows along with cybercrime.
4. They Isolate Exceptions and Have a Centralized Approach
Cyber incidents are essentially violations or imminent threats of violation of computer security that could harm the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data or systems. To effectively respond to a cyber incident, isolating exceptions and taking a centralized approach are essential.
By isolating exceptions, cyber incident response experts can identify and contain the problem, preventing it from spreading and causing further damage. Taking a centralized approach allows experts to coordinate their efforts and share information more effectively, ensuring that the response is as efficient and effective as possible.
Many cyber incident response experts agree that one of the best ways to isolate and manage exceptions is to take a centralized approach (Connell, 2014). This means having a central repository for all cyber incidents, regardless of where they occur.
A central repository makes it easier for a team of incident response analysts to resolve cyber incidents. You can easily see patterns and exceptions and quickly respond to cyber incidents.
Additionally, you should maintain a well-documented cyber incident response plan. Review and update this plan regularly, and design it to help you rapidly respond to any cyber incidents that may occur. These steps can help ensure that your organization is prepared to handle cyber incidents.
5. They Implement Post-Incident Measures
Cyber incidents aren’t just technical problems but business issues as well. The sooner you can mitigate them, the less damage they’ll cause. Therefore, it’s essential to take measures after a cyber incident to handle it appropriately and prevent future attacks. Post-incident measures may include the following:
- Conducting a review of the incident and implementing security controls
- Implementing technical controls such as hardening systems and upgrading software
- Improving organizational processes such as patch management and incident response
- Developing and implementing an incident response plan
Cyber incident response experts know that simply returning to the status quo is not enough. Instead, it’s necessary to learn from past mistakes and take steps to improve an organization’s overall security posture. By taking these measures, organizations can minimize the impact of future cyber incidents.
Become a Certified Incident Handler with EC-Council
So, what’s your takeaway about what it takes to be a successful cyber incident response expert?
The above qualities, including availability, collaboration, and certification, will get you started. But the most important element of all is experience.
One of the best ways to gain experience is to start your incident handling training. EC-Council’s Certified Incident Handler (E|CIH) program provides incident handlers with the knowledge and skills to respond to and resolve cyber incidents effectively. Get started with EC-Council’s E|CIH program to improve your cyber incident response expertise.
Connell, A. (2014, February 23). A new approach to cyber incident response. https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/blog/a-new-approach-to-cyber-incident-response/
DHS. (n.d.). Cyber incident reporting: a unified message for reporting to the federal government. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Cyber%20Incident%20Reporting%20
IBM. (2021). How much does a data breach cost? https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach
SECUDE. (2020, July 22). Is data collaboration the key to improving cybersecurity? https://secude.com/is-collaboration-key-to-improving-cybersecurity/
About the Author
Shelby Vankirk is a freelance technical writer and content consultant with over seven years of experience in the publishing industry, specializing in blogging, SEO copywriting, technical writing, and proofreading.