How to Have a Successful Incident Response Test


The Equifax data breach left the private information of 146 million people exposed, according to NBC News. If the company hadn’t taken the necessary steps to contain the breach, the chances are that more people would have been affected. This is why incidence response plans should never be taken for granted in the quest to achieve optimal security.

The question is, how effective is your incident response plan? Will your incident response plan play the part when threats strike? It is one thing to have a plan in place, and another to have a plan that is foolproof. The only way to be sure is to conduct a test.

Cyber security

Here are some insights for holding an effective incident response test:

Start By Planning Your Team

Who exactly will be involved in the incidence response test? It is wise to concentrate on more than the technical parts of the incidence response as you will require all hands on deck when braving a breach. While you will need your security team assessing Heroku tail logs among other security aspects, you will also need the PR team helping to shed some light into the situation to the concerned stakeholders.

For a successful session, you should consider holding a tabletop test where you have all the needed team members in the same room simulating the attack whether theoretically or literally. In case you have members of the team that have expertise in penetration testing, then this will make it easier. They can play the role of the attackers while the rest of the team tries to remediate the situation.

Go All In

Just because it is a simulation doesn’t mean that you have to be subtle during your attack. You ought to simulate an attack by every aspect. Push your team to the limit to identify the weaknesses in your IR plan.

For instance, if your official communication channels are compromised, your team should be intuitive enough to use alternative communication channels not to alert the intruders that their attack has been identified. You should also ensure that your team can track the steps that the intruders are taking within the company systems, whether it is malicious behavior or privilege escalations. It is in moments like this that you can truly determine the tenacity of your security team.

Document the Attack

Cyber-attack documentation is vital especially if the attack makes its way to the court of law. If the evidence is tampered with, it might not be admissible in court. With enough documentation, you can determine the main cause of the attack. Was it the result of an insider threat or the lack of equipment?

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Furthermore, the documentation of the attack will also help your organization determine any loopholes that your incident response plan might have. By carefully assessing the plans, you can determine who is lagging behind in their duties.

Review Your Plan Afterward

The threat landscape will keep on being dynamic as new threats emerge every day. While your incident response plan might have been effective enough a few months ago, a new threat might make parts of the plan obsolete. Furthermore, there are some loopholes that you are likely to uncover after every test.

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Review your IR plan and make the necessary adjustments. In some cases, it is best to do the tests while using real life and recent security threats to diversify your threat response arsenal. If the test requires you to do away with the whole of your plan, so be it – it is a small price to pay for the security of your business.


Surviving security breaches is only for the businesses that are threat-ready. Without a fool-proof incident response plan, there is no telling the amount of damage that a breach can lead to. Consider the above tips when testing your incident response plan to safeguard your business from the dynamic threat landscape.