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The SMB Cyber Survival Guide: Developing an Incident Response Plan

As a small or medium-sized business (SMB) owner, you might feel like cybersecurity incidents only happen to large corporations. However, cyber threats are on the rise and SMBs are increasingly being targeted. According to the Verizon 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, 93% of data breaches in 2021 involving small businesses were related to compromised credentials. A third of attacks were even attributed to insiders at the small businesses where breaches were detected and every incident investigated had a financial motive.


To protect your business from the consequences of a cybersecurity incident, it’s essential to have an incident response plan in place. An incident response plan is a document that outlines the steps your business will take in the event of a security incident. Here are the steps you should take to develop an incident response plan for your SMB.


Step 1: Identify your critical assets


The first step in developing an incident response plan is to identify your critical assets. These are the assets that are essential to your business operations and could cause the most damage if they were compromised. For example, your customer database, financial records, or intellectual property.


Once you’ve identified your critical assets, you should classify them by level of sensitivity and accessibility. This will help you prioritize your response in case of an incident.


Step 2: Define your incident response team


Your incident response team should consist of individuals with different roles and responsibilities. For example, you might need someone in charge of communications, someone in charge of technical analysis, and someone in charge of legal issues.


Make sure to define the roles and responsibilities of each team member in your incident response plan. You should also establish a chain of command to ensure that decisions are made quickly and efficiently.


Step 3: Develop your incident response plan


Your incident response plan should outline the steps your team will take in the event of a security incident. Here’s an example of what your incident response plan might include:

  1. Initial response: The first step in responding to a security incident is to identify the type of incident and initiate the incident response plan. This might involve disconnecting affected systems from the network or activating a specific response team.

  2. Containment: Once the incident has been identified, the next step is to contain the damage. This might involve isolating affected systems, blocking traffic to and from affected systems, or shutting down affected systems.

  3. Investigation: After the incident has been contained, your team should investigate the incident to determine the cause, extent of damage, and potential impact.

  4. Notification: Depending on the type of incident, you may need to notify customers, partners, vendors, and law enforcement. Your incident response plan should include guidelines for who to notify and how to communicate the incident.

  5. Recovery: Once the incident has been contained and investigated, your team can begin the recovery process. This might involve restoring data from backups, applying software patches, or rebuilding systems.

  6. Lessons learned: After the incident has been resolved, it’s essential to conduct a lessons learned review to identify what went well and what could be improved. This will help you refine your incident response plan and prepare for future incidents.


Step 4: Test your incident response plan


Your incident response plan won’t be effective unless it’s been tested. Regularly testing your incident response plan will help you identify any weaknesses and improve your response capabilities.


You should conduct tabletop exercises, which simulate a cybersecurity incident, to test your incident response plan. This will help you identify gaps in your plan and ensure that your team is prepared to respond in a real incident.


An incident response plan is an essential component of any SMB’s cybersecurity program. By following the steps outlined above, you can develop an incident response plan that will help you respond quickly and effectively to a cybersecurity incident, or you can reach out to our team at ChainLynx Tech for a full scale review and stand up of a security program for your organization.

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