The Power of New-Age Playbooks in Incident Response

I have often talked about the benefits of employing flexible playbooks to deal with evolving cyber incidents and unique threat scenarios, and in these series of blogs, I am going to explore some of the points of emphasis when creating a new playbook.

The advantage to Security Automation and Orchestration (SAO) platforms, and in particular our IncMan platform, is the ability it provides to tailor playbooks or runbooks to deal with all manner of cyber incidents. These Playbooks are defined by three key factors:

1.Phases: Determine the number of phases for the response process based on the incident scenario. The phases are really a placeholder for what you are trying to achieve in your response.

2.Automation: How much automation will benefit the given scenario without hindering or otherwise adversely impacting your business.

3.Actions: What actions apply to each phase and what is the benefit to each action.

Wash, Rinse, Re-playbook.

Play books, or runbooks, should never be static and hard-coded for a fixed set of events. Ultimately, incidents will differ and you should always remain in control, ready to adapt and adjust the response workflow. This flexibility is vital should a Plan B need to be executed. The approach of IncMan to security playbooks & runbooks support both mature and emerging SOC teams by providing multi-flow advanced runbooks to the former, and for the less mature, a simplified playbook containing a dual mode where automation and manual actions can co-exist.

In talking with CSIRT/SOC managers, I have learned that they have typically aligned themselves with a particular standard. Most organizations follow the likes of ISO for Incident Response, NIST
800-62 or alternatives along the lines of CREST or NISA. Structured incident handling processes based on these standards are a great baseline, but how about also having actions and reactions pre-prepared and ready to respond immediately according to the threat you face? Can you see the instant advantage in having smaller, simpler playbooks and runbooks specific to an adversary or threat scenario?

Dealing with incidents with tailored playbooks will ultimately provide better threat coverage as each has enrichment and containment actions that are concentrated on the tasks specific to a given scenario. Additionally, allowing your SAO product to tie the dots to bring enrichment to the observables and the indicators encountered in incidents will bring measurable value to the increased speed of the incident response process. Allowing analysts dynamic interaction at all phases of the workflow will help also help your reactions become more efficient. This mix of structured playbooks and dynamic response capability can also help push the CSIRT teams into a more pro-active mindset, allowing system and network-level security policy and infrastructure configuration changes to be handled on the fly while leveraging current and accurate information, and all from a single response console.

Flexible Playbooks for Any Situation

One of the major buzzwords when talking about cyber incident response is playbooks or run books i.e., advanced workflows with specific actions tailored to deal with and respond to cyber incidents.

Over the past few security conferences, I have noticed something of a trend emerging that centers on the uncertainty and hesitance that some incident response teams have regarding the use of playbooks and, in particular, around the notion of automation in incident response.

Another point of concern seems to be the security tools within existing infrastructure and how an incident response platform looks to make use of these tools. In an ideal scenario, an organization should use everything at its disposal in order to give its teams the best possible options for quick and successful incident response activities.

I think there are a couple of related challenges when talking about these issues, one of which is the existing resource skill sets and how they’re not the same across a typical IR team. This is a point that should really be considered when going through a solution discovery phase by asking the questions: What can I incorporate to best leverage the skills of the available resources? And, how do I best leverage the resources provided with an incident response platform?

At DFLabs, we look to help with these and many more points by providing out-of-the-box IncMan playbooks that are based on industry best practices and recognized standards. Furthermore, by giving you the ability to craft your own fully customized, simplified or advanced playbook, we enable your incident response teams with the freedom to react as they see fit, and in accordance with regulation or specific compliance measures applicable to your operations. To address any hesitance to automated response, your playbooks can be built to uniquely meet your comfort level, for example by leveraging automatic enrichment actions while also enforcing role-based security requirements to require authorization for any containment measures.

Lastly, by being platform agnostic, IncMan empowers you to incorporate your existing infrastructure for a comprehensive response strategy without a requirement for additional infrastructure investment.

How Are Automated Incident Response Playbooks Crucial to an Effective IR Program

Considering that we live and work in an increasingly connected world, it can be said that nowadays there is no organization that is immune to cyber attacks and data breaches. No matter how sophisticated your cyber defense is, you always need to be prepared for all eventualities that might arise from potential vulnerabilities within your computer networks or systems. That is why having a proper cyber incident response plan in place is crucial to the security of every organization since it enables you to detect and respond to cyber security breaches as quickly and efficiently as possible. For a cyber incident response plan to be successful, it should rely on automated incident response playbooks that can provide an automated response to any cyber attack, reducing the time it takes to solve an incident and allowing your organization to resume operations as soon as possible.

Automated Computer Forensics and Remediation

By using a platform that incorporates automated playbooks, organizations streamline their cybersecurity. As the playbooks provide automated digital forensics and remediation of the target, in addition to prioritized workflows that help when responding to all threats in the most effective manner.

To put it briefly, automated cyber incident response playbooks replace several time-consuming and often very costly processes and tasks that need to be completed following an advanced cyber attack. Tasks like tracking and gathering evidence that usually takes a lot of time to complete which only prevents investigators from spending more time trying to solve the problem. With a platform that offers automated playbooks, your cyber security team can focus on analyzing an incident, instead of collecting information.

Quick Response to Every Specific Incident

Security incident response playbooks help cyber security teams select the workflow that’s best suited for a specific threat. This allows them to prioritize their response, as well as choose the right tools that are required to solve a problem. These kinds of playbooks are a paramount part of an automated and orchestrated incident response, which is a key requirement for every SOC and CSIRT.

In conclusion, businesses and organizations are searching for a solution that enables a quick recovery from cyber attacks and helps prevent future potential threats. Investing in a complete platform that includes automated playbooks is one of the wisest investments they can make to protect proprietary and critically valuable information.