Incident Response

Plan and rehearse incident response activities

Every organisation should have a comprehensive approach to incident response so that it can be ready when something goes wrong. Modern data protection laws and regulations also require an active approach to incident response (i.e. breach detection and notification requirements in GDPR). For incident response plans to be valuable they need to be regularly tested, including all parts of the organisation, to ensure the organisation as a whole is able to respond under pressure. For example, GDPR gives only 72 hours to determine whether a breach should be reported to the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office).

Security Engineers should be actively involved in defining the incident response plans and following these plans when an incident occurs. The incident response plans must be tested and rehearsed to ensure they address the risk faced by the organisation adequately. This can be achieved through approaches such as tabletop exercises, chaos engineering, and red/blue or purple team exercises that allow teams to identify how they respond under pressure in critical situations. The Security Engineering team must involve stakeholders across the organisation (e.g. customer relations, PR, legal, engineering, etc.) to ensure all parties know their role and are ready to assist when required.

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Collaborate on active security incidents

When a security incident arises, teams across the organisation should collaborate openly and share information to ensure the incident is responded to quickly and effectively. When this is centrally managed by a single team (e.g. Security Engineering) and there is no engagement with the delivery team, the effectiveness of the response is reduced and the time to resolve the incident is increased.

Engaging the delivery team is an important opportunity to learn and improve the security of future product delivery. We should use blameless post-mortems to share learnings more widely within the organisation. A culture of open information sharing around security incidents will lead to greater risk reduction to the organisation, as teams are better informed and motivated to avoid similar incidents in the future.