Why SMBs Should Plan for a Cyberattack

For years, managed IT services providers have been preaching to the masses about deploying cybersecurity measures to prevent cyberattacks. As new threats have emerged over the past few years, more advanced tools and solutions are required to make it harder for hackers and disgruntled or careless employees to bring a company to its knees. Despite beefed-up security, there is no guarantee that businesses are 100 percent protected from bad actors, which is why it’s just as important to plan for a cyberattack as it is to try to prevent one.

Developing and testing an incident response plan is the most effective way to reduce the cost and fallout of a data breach. The longer it takes to address a cyber incident, the more damage criminals can do to your business. In 2021, the Ponemon Institute’s “Cost of a Data Breach Report” showed that organizations that had both a plan and a response team in place saved an average of $2.46 million, or 54.9%. A cyber response plan outlines steps that should be taken following a breach to minimize its impact and get the company back up and running as soon as possible. Developing a sound plan starts with understanding the components that make up an incident response strategy.

5 Phases of Incident Response

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework consists of five components or functions to help organizations manage and reduce risks. They are:


The first step in developing a response plan is to identify the critical functions of an organization and how a cyber threat could disrupt those functions. A risk assessment will help you identify things to take into consideration such as systems, people, assets, data and capabilities. Understanding these risks will allow you to respond to incidents and reduce their impact.


The protect phase of the NIST framework is designed to develop and implement appropriate safeguards to ensure the continuity of critical services in the event of an incident. Examples of categories within this function include identity management, backups, awareness and training, multifactor authentication, etc.


Early detection of irregularities, such as unusual network activity or someone attempting to access sensitive data, can help mitigate the damage of a breach and get you back to business quickly. Deploying intrusion detection systems is an effective way to tackle anomalies.


The respond function of the NIST Framework involves the ability to contain the impact of a cybersecurity incident. This includes response planning, analysis, communication, mitigation and improvements. Creating an incident response plan is the first step to adopting the respond function.


Following a cyber incident, you must outline steps to resume normal business operations as soon as possible to minimize disruption. During this phase, you will also identify areas that need to be improved for next time. Some steps to take are:

  • Restoring systems that have been affected
  • Implementing security controls to prevent the incident from happening again
  • Investigating the root cause of the event
  • Taking legal action against perpetrators

The main purpose of an incident response plan is to help you resolve the breach, minimize the damage and restore operations quickly. It’s important that all team members are aware of the incident response plan and understand their role and responsibilities in the event of a breach.

Because threats are ever-changing, plans should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it remains relevant.

Need Help Understanding Your Risks?

A managed IT services provider like MIS Solutions can help you develop an incident response plan. If you’re looking for help protecting your business against cyber incidents, be sure to contact us to schedule a 20-minute phone consultation.

Download this infographic, “Small Business Incidents: What You Can Learn from Their Experiences,” to understand the cyberthreats small businesses face.

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