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What Is an Incident Response Plan and Why do I Need One?

Incident Response / June 17 , 2020

As businesses around the world continue the journey of digital transformation, cyber incidents are occurring with greater frequency and severity—and costing organizations more money. According to the Allianz Risk Barometer Report, cyber incidents most commonly originate from:

  • Data or security breaches
  • Hack attacks
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Employee errors

With up to 70 % of small and medium businesses suffering from some form of cyber incident, your business needs to prepare for this eventuality with an Incident Response Plan (IRP).

What Is an Incident Response Plan (IRP)?

An incident response plan is a data-protection-focused mechanism designed to help companies cope with a cyber crisis. Cyber incidents, like ransomware attacks or data breaches, strike without warning and can be devastating if the proper mitigation steps are not taken swiftly. To avoid missteps amidst the chaos of an attack, the components of an incident response plan should include:

  • Roles and responsibilities of internal and external response teams
  • Rules for categorizing the severity of an attack
  • Internal communication protocols
  • Response sequences for contacting a breach coach lawyer and a forensics team
  • Breach notification procedures
  • Recovery assessment exercises and suggested next steps.

An IRP needs to be created with the buy-in of senior management and should complement your existing business continuity and disaster recovery plan for traditional threats.

Why do I Need an IRP?

With the prevalence of cyber threats, the reality is that the vast majority of businesses will at some point fall victim to an attack. At times, smaller businesses tend to assume that their data is not valuable and they would not be targeted for a cyber attack—but cyber criminals do not discriminate. In fact, according to a Cyber Study we conducted here at NetDiligence, 96% of cyber claims come from companies with less than two billion dollars in annual revenue.

Once a cyber incident occurs, there are numerous mitigation and recovery costs that the affected organization will incur. The biggest expenses fall into the following four categories:

  1. Breach Costs

    These are the immediate costs associated with the suspension of services or theft data.

  2. Crisis Services Costs

    These are the costs of responding to the breach event which will likely include the need to hire a breach coach legal professional, a forensics investigation team, a breach notification service, perform credit and ID monitoring, and carry out a public relations campaign.

  3. Legal Costs

    In addition to legal defense costs and the possibility of lawsuit payouts, cyber attack victims may be subject to regulatory fines if they are found to not have been in compliance with relevant legislation.

  4. Business Interruption

    Lost income due to business interruption and reputation damage is often impossible to quantify and can impact a business for years after an attack.

A properly constructed and maintained incident response plan can help your business control the severity of an attack and avoid the worst of these consequences.

How Does an IRP Help Protect my Business?

The two most important reasons for maintaining an incident response plan are compliance and risk management.


Today, consumers and authorities alike are demanding companies responsibly manage data and have measures in place to prevent and mitigate damaging cyber events. Legislation like the European Union (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation, California’s Consumer Privacy Act, and New York’s SHIELD Act, are examples of just a few of the prominent laws that companies need to be compliant with or risk facing regulatory repercussions.

If contingency plans for compliance are not drawn up ahead of time, your organization is likely to fall afoul of its legal obligations when crisis strikes.

Risk Management

Every company’s success is contingent on the continued trust of business partners and customer patronage. Hence, safeguarding network and data assets is paramount.

If a cyber incident does occur, a well prepared and accessible incident response plan helps ensure valuable mitigation time is not lost to panic and confusion. With a strategic response, you can better protect sensitive customer information, proprietary data, financial records, and other vital company data.

Your IRP demonstrates to business partners, cyber insurance providers, customers, and other stakeholders that your company takes cybersecurity seriously and is prepared to protect their interests.

Build Your IRP with NetDiligence

A customized Incident Response Plan designed for legal compliance and swift mitigation is the best way to protect your company’s reputation and minimize the financial and legal repercussions of a cyber incident.

At NetDiligence, we have nearly 20 years of experience in cybersecurity readiness. With our cloud-hosted solution, Breach Plan Connect®, we help companies simplify the process of constructing an effective incident response plan.

The template for our IRP was crafted in partnership with leading cyber breach lawyers, breach coaches, and computing forensic experts. Using our intuitive mobile-friendly platform, customers can easily customize the IRP to suit their unique compliance and data security needs.

You may not be able to prevent a cyber incident, but you can prepare for it. At NetDiligence, we leverage our cyber readiness know-how and network of industry partners to help you plan for the unexpected. To learn more about our cybersecurity services, contact us today.


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