A cyber incident is a type of security event that can harm a business like yours, from data breaches and system failures to malware attacks and phishing scams. These incidents can hinder productivity, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction.

In most cases, a cyber incident will result in data loss or downtime. The impact may include losing confidential information, customer data, or business records. In some cases, a cyber incident can also cause business interruption or financial loss.

No one wants to experience their business hacked, and a single cyberattack can rob you of your time, money, and peace of mind. In addition to getting systems operational and data restored, you must let all affected parties know if and how the incident compromised their data. This situation can be challenging, but it is navigable.

This article will provide proactive and reactive approaches to a cyber security incident response plan, including detection, recovery, and prevention.

Cyber Security Incident Response Plan Steps

Proactive Steps to Implement

By taking these proactive steps, you can help protect your business from the devastating consequences of a cyberattack:

Routinely update your passwords.

It’s critical to update your passwords regularly to help keep your accounts safe. Updating your passwords every six months can help protect your accounts from being hacked.

Use these tips to create a strong password:

  • Use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Avoid using easily guessable words like your name or birthdate.
  • Use a different password for each account.
  • Don’t reuse passwords.

Use a virtual private network (VPN).

A virtual private network encrypts your company’s data and gives you complete control over who has access to it. This tool can help prevent data breaches and protect of your company’s information. However, make sure to select a reputable provider VPN offering robust security features.

Conduct regular security awareness training.

As a responsible business executive, you must ensure that your security awareness training program is comprehensive, engaging, and adaptable to new threats. In today’s digital age, this training is critical to protect your business.

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Run regular phishing tests.

Phishing is a type of cyberattack that employs deceitful techniques to try and obtain sensitive information from users or cause them to download malicious software. Phishing attacks can be highly sophisticated and challenging to detect, so it is essential to periodically test your employees to assess their vulnerability to this type of attack.

Reset access controls regularly.

It is crucial to periodically reset access controls to prevent unauthorized access to protected resources. This step helps to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information. Resetting access controls can be done manually or with automated tools.

Use multifactor authentication (MFA).

Multifactor authentication is a security measure that requires your employees to provide more than one form of identification when accessing data, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized data access. MFA can include something they know (like a password), something they have (like a security token), or something they are (like a fingerprint).

Before we move on, take note of the cybersecurity training topics recommended by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for all small businesses:

  • Spotting a phishing email
  • Using good browsing practices
  • Avoiding suspicious downloads
  • Creating strong passwords
  • Protecting sensitive customer and vendor information
  • Maintaining good cyber hygiene
cyber security incident response plan concept

Reactive Steps to Remember

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) reactive incident response framework covers the following five phases:


You must identify security risks to develop an effective incident response plan. Identification includes, among other things, threats to your technology systems, data, and operations. Understanding these risks allows you to respond to incidents more effectively and reduce the impact of security breaches.


To protect your company, you need to develop and implement appropriate safeguards. Security measures to guard against threats and steps to ensure the continuity of essential services in the event of an incident are examples of safeguards.


Detecting anomalies, such as unusual network activity or unauthorized access to sensitive data, are needed to limit the damage and get your systems back up and running faster following an incident.


A plan to respond to detected cyber incidents is critical. This strategy should include breach containment, investigation, and resolution strategies.


To minimize disruption, you must have a plan to resume normal business operations as soon as possible after an incident.

Contact Atruent

Implementing the above proactive and reactive steps in a cyber security incident response plan requires time, effort, and skill sets. If you do not have these resources available, you can still accomplish the steps above by collaborating with an IT service provider like us. Our experience and expertise may be just what you need. Feel free to reach out to schedule a consultation.