Introduction: Who Is a Security Incident Manager?

Time is of the essence when dealing with cyber-attacks. The damage these incidents will have on resources and assets depends on how fast an organization can identify, analyze, prevent, and respond to them. Hence, a security incident manager is critical in mitigating threats and facilitating quick business recovery.

The incident manager is responsible for detecting, analyzing, and responding to incidents. This professional manages the entire incident response and handling process. They must also document/report incidents, including efforts taken, and implement remediation measures to prevent future attacks.

Security incident managers may work as part of a cybersecurity team or be in charge of an incident response (IR) team that reports to the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

The security incident manager is typically a senior-level role, meaning professionals are usually incident responders or handlers first. Working in this role is akin to being a firefighter for your organization.

If this sounds exciting, then incident handling sets you on the right career path to becoming an incident manager.

Cybrary provides a guided pathway to achieve this through theoretical courses and real-world challenges taught by industry experts.

Incident Management and Incident Response

The scope of incident management (IM) covers different roles, from call-center agents to technical leaders. Incident Management is a leading component of any incident response process, ensuring all stages are handled. IM manages all communications, media handling, escalation, and reporting issues, bringing the entire response together coherently and holistically.

This means you’ll be in charge of various responsibilities as an incident manager to ensure your organization has a comprehensive incident response plan. These roles may be delegated to other team members, such as incident responders, problem managers, communications leaders, subject matter experts, scribes, etc.

However, you will be responsible for the whole incident response process.

How Does Incident Management Work?

Cybersecurity threats have grown in frequency and sophistication. A successful cyber-attack can cause irreversible damage to an organization's networks, systems, data, and other assets. This can be detrimental to financial health, brand reputation, and customer loyalty.

Organizations that want to survive must monitor their networks for anomalies to quickly identify and respond to threats before compromising sensitive data. Effective incident management must also protect against future incidents.

Security incident management uses a combination of hardware, software, and human-driven analysis and investigation.

According to the ISO/ISEC Standard 27035, the security incident management process consists of five steps.

1. Prepare

This involves every activity that goes into preparing for potential incidents. For example, preparing an organization-wide incident management policy and building a cybersecurity team of incident responders.
Preparation ensures that when an incident occurs, the information required to respond can be gathered immediately.

2. Identify

This stage involves deciding whether a security incident has occurred, is occurring, or may occur. The incident manager and response team will analyze data from Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS), log management systems, firewall logs, threat-sharing strategies, and other network activities to classify the event. Once a threat is identified, it will be documented and reported based on the established incident response policy.

3. Assess

Here, the identified incidents will be assessed to determine the right action to mitigate the risk. This involves quick mitigation of the threat to get business operations running or collecting forensic evidence, even if it might delay resolving the issue.

4. Respond

Depending on the outcome of the third step, responding to the incident involves containing, investigating, and resolving it. When containing a threat, deciding the best strategy to use is crucial.

After the containment of the potential threat, the root cause must be investigated. To accomplish this, all malware should be removed, systems should be patched, and software updated if necessary. As a result, the systems should be patched to the most recent level, and passwords that meet all security requirements should be assigned.

5. Learn

Security incident management is a continuous process. It’s essential to learn from each incident and improve an organization’s incident response processes and security posture to prevent future occurrences.

This will involve a round-off meeting with all parties to answer questions and clarify the incident. The meeting is not only about how the incident was handled but also about how it was discovered.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities of an Incident Manager

The objective of the incident management process is to reduce the impact of cybersecurity incidents on the system, networks, and services. To achieve this, the security incident manager must carry out a series of activities.

Some of these responsibilities are aimed at understanding the problem, others at resolving it, and others at mitigating future impacts.

If you plan to become an incident manager in the future, or you’re a recruiting manager that wants to hire, here are the expected responsibilities of a security incident manager:

  • Oversees the incident management process and IR team involved in resolving incidents.
  • Detects, investigates, analyses, and responds to incidents.
  • The security incident manager plans and designs an organization-wide incident response program. The security incident manager is also responsible for the implementation of these policies.
  • Delegates ad hoc roles and coordinates the activities of incident responders before, during, and after an incident.
  • Responsible for providing regular reports to the CISO and other senior management.
  • Identifies the root cause of all incidents.
  • Evaluates insurance coverage, compliance with regulatory laws, and legal implications of cyber-attacks.
  • Assesses the situation and determines whether an incident can be resolved internally or requires external assistance through outsourced cybersecurity efforts.
  • Initiates and schedules incident reviews.
  • Establish continuous process improvement cycles in which process performance, tasks, roles and responsibilities, policies, procedures, and supporting technology are reviewed and improved as needed.

The day-to-day responsibilities of an incident manager will differ based on the organization and the threats they face. However, the points above cover most of the work you should expect an incident manager to perform.

Tools and Technologies Used by a Security Incident Manager

Incident management go through several stages, from preparation and identification to assessment, containment, and response. Some tools can make the process easier and faster for incident managers and their teams. This is even more critical due to the time-sensitive nature of cyber-attacks.

Below you’ll find tools and technologies that incident management teams and professionals use to respond to incidents:

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools

SIEM is a collection of tools and services that provide a comprehensive view of an organization's information security. SIEM tools provide real-time visibility of an organization's information security systems, event log management that gathers data from multiple sources, and automated security notifications.

This can help incident managers identify and mitigate potential threats immediately.

Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems

IDS/IPS monitors network traffic for anomalies and alerts the incident management team. They often have features like real-time alerts and reporting.

While an IDS detects and records threats, an IPS monitors network packets for suspicious or malicious activity and prevents them. This includes blocking traffic from suspicious internet protocol addresses.

Threat Intelligence Tools

These tools read raw data on current and emerging threats, including threat actors from various sources. The data is analyzed and filtered to create intelligence reports used by automated security solutions. It can assist incident managers in avoiding potential attacks and protecting their businesses.

Netflow Analyzers

A NetFlow Analyzer is a network traffic monitor that collects, analyzes, and reports on how and by whom your network bandwidth is being used.

NetFlow analysis enables more detailed capacity planning and ensures that assets are used appropriately to support organizational goals.

These tools allow incident managers to perform monitoring, troubleshooting, and robust inspection, interpretation, and synthesis of the organization's traffic flow data.

Vulnerability Scanner

Vulnerability scanners are automated tools that enable organizations to determine whether their networks, systems, and applications have security vulnerabilities that could expose them to attacks. This information can be used to fix the weaknesses and prevent future incidents.

These tools are also important for compliance because government regulations and industry standards mandate vulnerability scanning.

Web Proxies

A web proxy is an intermediary between the client and the target server. It intercepts all client requests and forwards them to the target server. This can be used to track traffic and prevent access to specific websites.

Availability Monitoring Tools

Availability monitoring avoids issues by checking the uptime of critical infrastructure components like servers and apps and notifying the webmaster of the problems before they impact business. This can aid in the rapid identification and remediation of incidents affecting business operations.

Incident management is crucial to any successful business in the modern world. Having a qualified security incident manager and an effective incident response plan protects an organization from damaging cyber-attacks.

Consider specializing in security incident management to take advantage of the increasing demand for these cybersecurity professionals.

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