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Incident Response Tools: Technologies to Boost Your IR Process

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Incident Response Tools

What are Incident Response Tools?

Incident response tools help address and manage their response to security events by offering various functionalities, including prevention, detection, and response. These features enable organizations to handle security incidents in a standardized manner that limits the scope of the damage, minimizes recovery time, and reduces the costs of cyberattacks and breaches.

Organizations employ incident response tools to execute a program that standardizes response efforts across the entire organization and relevant parties. Some organizations follow the military-derived OODA loop for incident response, which involves observing, orienting, deciding, and acting (OODA) during security incidents.

Incident response tools can help automate and streamline certain incident response functions within the loop to reduce system errors and detection times. Incident response tools provide visibility and control, including information related to abnormal behavior that requires further investigation, and initiate direct response efforts to minimize security risks.

Why Is Having an Incident Response Plan Important?

With the growing number and severity of cyber threats, and the growing complexity of IT environments, organizations must re-energize their incident response and recovery processes. 

Zero-day vulnerabilities are increasing every year, and threats are becoming more sophisticated, many of them executed by organized crime groups and state-sponsored threat actors. The attack surface is increasing with the proliferation of cloud environments and the growing problem of insecure configurations.

Having a robust incident response plan helps align the entire organization around effective response and recovery for cyberattacks. With proper planning and a designated incident response team, employees know who makes decisions and how to prioritize actions. Having a clear, well-documented plan for how to handle information security incidents can help your team take action quickly and effectively.

An incident response plan can help an organization:

  • Identify incident response leaders to guide response activities.
  • Ensure that all key functions are covered by team members and security tools.
  • Enable process owners to quickly determine the appropriate course of action when an incident occurs.
  • Ensure that application security efforts are coordinated with incident responders.

Incident response plans are not only important for cybersecurity efforts – they can also have a compliance impact. Some compliance standards specifically require incident response plans. These include NIST Special Publication 800-53, NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), NIST 800-61, and the CIS 18 Critical Security Controls (CSCs).

Incident Response Tools and Technologies to Boost Your IR Process

SIEM

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a security management approach that unifies security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM) into one security management system. SIEM systems aggregate data from several sources to identify deviations from a preestablished baseline and apply the appropriate action.

A SIEM system can work using rules or a statistical correlation engine to determine relationships between various event log entries. SIEM tools gather log and event data created by host systems, applications, and security devices, such as firewalls and antivirus filters, across the organization’s infrastructure, centralizing this data on one platform. 

SIEM tools can identify and organize the correlated data into various categories, such as malware activity, successful and failed logins, and other malicious activities. After identifying potential security issues, SIEM tools generate alerts. Organizations can predefine rules to set alerts as high or low priority.

Advanced SIEM solutions extend their functionality to include security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR), and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). 

SAST

Static application security testing (SAST) is a white box testing method that involves analyzing application source code to find security vulnerabilities and any weaknesses that can open up the application to attacks. SAST tools analyze an inactive application by examining its source code, binaries, and byte code for design and coding flaws. 

Software developers use SAST to identify and remediate flaws in application source code during early phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC), before deploying to production. It is possible to run SAST scans in these phases because SAST does not require a running application or deployed code.

By running SAST early in the SDLC, developers get real-time feedback. This information helps resolve code issues before passing it to more advanced phases of the SDLC. However, developers must run SAST regularly to ensure they catch vulnerabilities whenever the application undergoes a new build or code is released or checked. 

XDR

Extended detection and response (XDR) is a SaaS-based security threat detection and incident response tool that integrates several security products natively and unifies all licensed components into one security operations system. XDR provides security operations with real-time actionable threat information for faster outcomes.

This vendor-specific tool enables organizations to achieve a holistic and simpler view of security threats across the entire technology landscape. XDR products help improve security operations productivity by extending detection and response functionalities. XDR tools ingest and distill several telemetry streams, unifying visibility and control across all endpoints, clouds, and networks. 

By analyzing threat vectors, including TTPs, XDR tools eliminate the need for custom-made point solutions, making complex security operations functionalities more accessible to security teams. It removes detection and investigation cycles, offering threat-centric context to facilitate quicker incident response.

Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR)

DFIR is the practice of identifying, investigating, containing and remediating cyberattacks. It can also provide evidence for legal prosecution related to cyberattacks and other digital investigations. DFIR utilizes two disciplines:

  • Incident response – works to collect and analyze data to investigate digital assets. The goal of this investigation is to support responses to security events. It includes not only investigations but also response steps like containment and recovery.
  • Digital forensics – this sub-field of forensic science is involved with collecting, analyzing, and presenting digital evidence, such as user activity and system data. It helps determine what occurred on certain network devices, tablets, phones, and computer systems. Digital forensics supports various investigations, such as internal company investigations, regulatory investigations, criminal activities, and litigations. 

Digital forensics involves collecting and investigating data primarily to determine a narrative of what has already occurred. Incident response investigations are initiated mainly to contain and recover from a security incident. Both can utilize the same procedures and tools, and events that occur during incident response might be shared during future litigation. 

Conclusion

In this article, I explained the basics of incident response and introduced four categories of tools that can help you boost your IR efforts:

  • SIEM – correlates data from security events across the IT environment
  • SAST – gives developers fast feedbacks about software vulnerabilities
  • XDR – enables automated detection of sophisticated attacks across security silos
  • Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) – enables security teams to identify what happened in a security breach and help prosecute cybercriminals.

I hope this will be useful as you level up your incident response operations.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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