Global enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees, small companies doing business on the web and public sector organizations of any size all have one thing in common: your networks are under almost continual attack, and your enterprise systems are at risk as well.

As a cornerstone of your organization’s defense against hackers, malware, human error and a host of other threats, a Computer Security Incident Response Plan (CSIRP) is the map that guides your response to a successful attack. It should define the roles and responsibilities of all respondents, establish authority for making major decisions and define communications flows and notification procedures. Without a CSIRP, your incident response team can waste invaluable time and resources in figuring out what to do—leading to potentially higher costs and greater damage to your organization and your reputation.

The worst time to find out that your CSIRP is flawed is when you are in the middle of an emergency. In helping clients respond to declared incidents, our security experts on our Emergency Response Service teams have been able to observe what works well in a CSIRP and what does not.

Advice for first responders

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind when a security incident is declared.


  • Consult and follow your organization’s CSIRP
  • Gather incident intelligence from multiple sources
  • Ensure the proper people are involved
  • Begin taking thorough first responder notes
  • Activate one-time-only Incident Responder credentials
  • Collect volatile data and pre-determined log files
  • Safeguard systems and media for forensic investigation
  • Collect network-based logs for future analysis


  • Panic or react without a plan
  • Discuss the incident with others unless directed
  • Shut down, power off or back up affected systems
  • Remotely access systems unless necessary
  • Use common privileged domain credentials
  • Install or execute any software on the systems
  • Conduct anti-virus or similar scanning processes
  • Attempt to retaliate against perpetrators

While the basic components of a CSIRP are straightforward, crafting an effective plan requires balancing thoroughness and usability. Given the rapidly evolving threat landscape, it is not possible to build a plan that can address every potential attack—nor would you want a document that detailed and complex. Instead, you want to build flexible guidelines that can be quickly and easily applied to any type of incident.

In a future blog, we will dive in a little deeper, to specifics about how to build an effective CSIRP.

If you’d like more information in the meantime, feel free to schedule a consultation with one of our experts.

If you liked this blog, you also might like:  Endpoints: The Beginning of Your Defense

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