Incident Response Policy Template for CIS Control 17

A comprehensive cybersecurity program includes protections, detections, response, and recovery capabilities. Often, the final two get overlooked in immature enterprises, or the response technique to compromised systems is just to re-image them to original state and move on. The primary goal of incident response is to identify threats on the enterprise, respond to them before they can spread, and remediate them before they can cause harm. Without understanding the full scope of an incident, how it happened, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again, defenders will just be in a perpetual “whack-a-mole” pattern.

We cannot expect our protections to be effective 100% of the time. When an incident occurs, if an enterprise does not have a documented plan – even with good people – it is almost impossible to know the right investigative procedures, reporting, data collection, management responsibility, legal protocols, and communications strategy that will allow the enterprise to successfully understand, manage, and recover.

Along with detection, containment, and eradication, communication to stakeholders is key. If we are to reduce the probability of material impact due to a cyber event, the enterprise’s leadership must know what potential impact there could be so that they can help prioritize remediation or restoration decisions that best support the enterprise. These business decisions could be based on regulatory compliance, disclosure rules, service-level agreements with partners or customers, revenue, or mission impacts.

Dwell time from when an attack happens to when it is identified can be days, weeks, or months. The longer the attacker is in the enterprise’s infrastructure, the more embedded they become, and they will develop more ways to maintain persistent access for when they are eventually discovered. With the rise of ransomware, which is a stable moneymaker for attackers, this dwell time is critical, especially with modern tactics of stealing data before encrypting it for ransom.

This policy template is meant to supplement the CIS Controls v8. The policy statements included within this document can be used by all CIS Implementation Groups (IGs) but are specifically geared toward Safeguards in Implementation Group 1 (IG1).

Incident Response Policy Template for CIS Control 17