Incident Response Planning: Important Tips for Active Directory Users

by Jessica Elliott
Incident Response Planning: Important Tips for Active Directory Users

Active Directory (AD) is vital to your operations, and an effective incident response plan ensures its availability. If AD is compromised, you lose access to your connected applications, resulting in downtime impacting employees, customers and your bottom line.

Your incident response process determines the outcome of security events. An incident response playbook and disaster recovery plan ensure fast action during data breaches affecting normal operations. Learn what a technology incident response plan is, how it’s used and why preparation is crucial to your organization’s information systems.

What Is an Incident Response Plan?

Incident response is how your business reacts to a cyber event. A formal incident response plan establishes procedures for responding to an attack. It assesses event management, determines the root cause of security incidents and prevents further harm. The main objective is to swiftly detect, manage and recover while minimizing damages.

After security analysts complete a risk assessment, which considers insider threats and external risks, the chief information security officer appoints a security team. Together, leaders develop a cybersecurity strategy that coordinates your incident response.

Typical incident response plans include:

  • Security Incident Definitions: Define threats and attack severity to determine the correct incident response procedures and tools.
  • Cybersecurity Incident Response Roles: Outline the responsibilities of internal and external incident response teams.
  • Preparation: Create planning scenarios, audit security team actions and continually improve your approach.
  • Communication Plan: List contact information and notification protocols for incident response team members, legal advisors and forensics assistance.
  • Incident Response Phases: The initial response steps include detection, analysis and containment. Once complete, your staff can start evicting threat actors and securing Active Directory.
  • Cyber Incident Investigations: Document incident response activities and recommend changes to your incident response procedures. This section aims to prevent future attacks and improve your approach.

A Framework for Your Incident Response Team

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides Federal Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks. These outline the incident response steps and security best practices, including the four incident response steps. You can customize incident response plan templates for the potential security events identified in your risk assessment.

The incident response steps include:

  1. Detection and Analysis: Your cybersecurity technologies, including threat intelligence feeds and other security tools, report suspicious and anomalous activity. This critical stage is when your team determines if an incident occurred and weeds out false positives. They identify the type, extent and magnitude of the event.
  2. Containment: The approach to containment relates to the type of attack, but the goal remains the same — to lessen the impact and stop further damage. Your cyber incident response team will apply tactics specific to both the adversary and the affected systems. Ultimately, they remove persistent access.
  3. Eradication and Recovery: During this stage, incident response teams eliminate the threats, allowing normal operations to return. In addition, they collect evidence and mitigate vulnerabilities by modifying or hardening the environment.
  4. Post-Incident Activities: Documentation is crucial to learning and preventing future incidents. Security teams will analyze the efficiency and effectiveness of your response, allowing you to learn from previous incidents. They turn it into a lesson-learned analysis which includes details about the initial root cause, execution problems and potential policy or procedural changes.

However, some organizations prefer the SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security (SANS) framework. It’s similar to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) stages but turns the four steps into six phases of incident response. Regardless of your approach, the core outcome is cohesive, efficient action after an incident occurs that keeps your Active Directory network secure and functional.

Security Benefits of Incident Response Plans

So why is an incident response plan important? The fact is that a security breach can happen at any business. Back in 2015, Alex Simons, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Product Management, Microsoft Identity and Network Access Division, told an audience that 95 million Active Directory accounts “are under attack every single day.”

In 2021, ransomware attacks increased by 150%, and Verizon found that an incredible 82% of security breaches “involved the human element,” with stolen credentials causing a significant number of security incidents.

And when your Active Directory network is compromised, business as usual shuts down. Indeed, your incident response processes and software solutions are crucial to recovery after an attack. Being prepared on multiple levels is the only way to effectively defend affected systems.

Improve Your Incident Response Process

Avoid a major incident and protect sensitive data with managed detection services and security solutions. The right security tools and strategy keep your Active Directory network accessible during cyber incidents, allowing critical business operations to continue even under duress.

Indeed, The Migus Group offers software like CayoSoft to help your organization back up and harden your AD directory, reducing data loss and making your incident response easier and quicker. Partner with The Migus Group to assess your readiness and ensure a strong security posture.

We can help you review your incident response initiatives, discern vulnerabilities and future-proof your playbook. Contact The Migus Group today.

Jessica Elliott is a business technology writer specializing in cloud-hosted and cybersecurity services. Her work appears in U.S. News, and Investopedia.