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5 Steps to Building a Robust Incident Response Plan for your MSP

January 13, 2021

Today’s organizations face ransomware, malware, and other cyber attacks, and managed service providers (MSPs) need an incident response plan (or “IRP”) to mitigate against these threats.

In a recent survey of 200 MSPs, 74% of respondents said they have suffered a cyber attack, and 83% noted their small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers experienced one as well.

Yet, with an incident response plan (IRP), MSPs can protect themselves and their customers against cyber attacks.

A Closer Look at How an MSP Security IRP Works

To understand how an MSP security IRP works, it is important to first review IT incident response planning and how it benefits all types of organizations.

An IT incident response plan refers to a documented process for dealing with cyber attacks and other security incidents. The plan helps IT staff detect, respond to, and recover from security incidents and guard against cybercrime, data loss, and service outages. In doing so, the plan can protect an organization and its customers against security incidents.

With an IRP in place, IT staff will know exactly how to respond to security incidents. So, if a significant disruption occurs, staff members can use the plan to stop, contain, and manage the incident.

An IRP is backed by tools that IT staff can use to quickly determine where an incident occurred, which systems were impacted, and how to respond. The plan also accounts for data collection and analysis, and it encourages IT staff to retrieve incident data and evaluate it.

That way, staff members can gain actionable insights to identify the root cause of an incident, prevent an incident from becoming a recurring problem, and improve their incident response efforts going forward.

Build a Robust Incident Response Plan

Here’s how an MSP can develop and implement a robust IRP:

1. Establish an Incident Response Team
Create an incident response team who will collect and analyze incident data. The team can include IT staff and other stakeholders who are tasked with responding to an incident and taking the proper steps to resolve the issue as soon as it is identified. In addition, team members should leverage a secure and standardized system to keep in touch with one another throughout an incident and document all incident data.

With AlertOps, incident response team members can retrieve and evaluate data as an incident progresses. Once the incident has been resolved, these team members can perform a post-mortem to understand why the issue occurred and what can be done to prevent it from occurring again.

2. Use an Incident Monitoring Tool
Leverage a monitoring tool that allows incident response team members to identify incidents in their early stages. Ideally, the tool can be used in combination with other tools that incident response team members use daily.

AlertOps offers Open APIs, so an incident response team can integrate a monitoring tool into the platform to understand and classify incident data. AlertOps provides a custom rules engine that lets users classify and correlate data and enables users to set up triggers to send incident alerts. As such, AlertOps can help an incident response team get the most value out of its monitoring tool.

3. Notify Appropriate Stakeholders

Ensure appropriate stakeholders can be notified about an incident. A system should be established that lets incident response team members send custom messages to specific groups. It should also allow an incident response team to escalate alerts and send targeted messages to key stakeholders.

AlertOps ensures the right stakeholders are notified about an incident, every time. The platform lets an incident response team deliver timely, relevant, and accurate alert updates at all stages of an incident. When the incident is resolved, AlertOps ensures incident response team members will have no trouble sending the all-clear, too.

4. Automate Incident Response

Determine triggers that can be used to automate incident response processes. Triggers ensure that the right stakeholders are automatically kept up to date throughout an incident and speed up incident response.

AlertOps lets incident response team members design custom escalation rules and templates to automatically alert stakeholders throughout an incident. It also lets an incident response team automatically create tickets, schedule technicians, and escalate critical alerts when a first responder cannot be reached.

Plus, AlertOps empowers an incident response team to schedule when stakeholders receive alerts, deliver alerts via stakeholders’ preferred communication channels (SMS, email, etc.), and apply escalation rules independent of on-call schedules.

5. Get Experts Involved

Ensure incident response experts are notified immediately and can track an incident’s progress. Alerts should be delivered to these experts at every stage of an incident and include pertinent data. As such, incident response experts can get the information they need to make data-driven decisions to resolve the incident.

Incident response experts should review an IRP after an incident as well. Every incident is a learning opportunity, and it can provide valuable insights into how an incident response team can bolster its IRP and guard against future incidents.

Improve MSP Security with AlertOps for Incident Response

Optimizing an IRP is an ongoing endeavor, and an incident response team must remain diligent in its efforts to identify incident response improvement areas. By launching an IRP and evaluating an incident response team’s performance following incidents, an MSP is well-equipped to maximize the value of its IRP. Perhaps best of all, an MSP will be able to use its IRP to protect itself and its customers against cyber attacks and other security incidents.

AlertOps helps MSPs develop and execute incident response plans. Our platform empowers incident response teams to quickly and effectively detect and resolve incidents, learn from them, and improve their security.