Why it’s So Important to Have an Incident Response Plan in Place

It's Time to automate!We recently touched on one of the latest big security breaches, which occurred when retail giant Target failed to properly handle an incoming cyber security threat. That one costly mistake cost millions of Target customers their privacy and brought global consumer trust to an all-time low. Now, another serious security breach has occurred, hitting 200 hospitals in the US and compromising the confidential data of 4.5 million patients. So what can you do to prevent your organization from becoming the next target of online hackers? Simple. Develop and implement a quality incident response plan. Here’s how.

Incidents are basically our first indication that a problem has presented itself. They’re often precursors to a much more serious disaster. So, if they’re not handled properly, the results can be catastrophic (just ask Target executives). When an incident occurs, it means something out of the “norm” has happened. The next step should be analyzing and prioritizing that incident so that the next appropriate course of action can be taken to address the problem, if necessary.

In terms of its severity, an incident can generally be defined as any event that, if unaddressed, may lead to a business interruption or loss. For instance, a virus getting introduced into your network starts as an incident. If not properly handled, however, that virus can cause irreparable damage. Upon further investigation, it turned out that the reason for the Target debacle was not so much that hackers got into the system, but that IT did not respond to the initial incident as they should have. The result was the disaster we all heard about on the news.

To avoid all of this, an incident response plan should be developed that includes the following actions:
  • Have a quality monitoring system in place
  • Identify the potential incident
  • Respond to the incident in a timely manner
  • Assess the situation, analyzing the severity of the incident
  • Notify the appropriate parties about the incident
  • Take appropriate measures to protect sensitive data and minimize impact
  • Organize, prioritize and escalate the incident response activities accordingly
  • Prepare for adequate business recovery support in the wake of any damage caused in the interim
  • Review process, making necessary adjustments, to prevent future similar incidents and improve the way they’re handled

In our recent article, we also discussed how IT process automation can help streamline the incident response process. First, you can integrate your automation tool with your monitoring system. That way, all incoming alerts will be handled according to the predefined workflow and serious issues don’t get missed.

Not only does automation help to ensure that critical incidents are identified, communicated, escalated and addressed in the timeliest manner possible, but it can also help identify potential risks by recognizing when something occurs that is out of the “norm” for business processes. This allows you to proactively intervene and hopefully prevent any issues from occurring in the first place.

An incident response plan is something that every organization should have in place. Don’t risk becoming the next business that appears on the news for a breach of confidential information. Get your IRP in place today, and optimize it with automation to proactively protect your business against dangerous cyber-attacks, both now and in the future.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

How IT Process Automation Can Benefit Over Human Intervention

How IT Process Automation Can Benefit Over Human InterventionIn the not so distant past, businesses of just about every industry held steadfastly to the belief that computers could never be as valuable as a human employee. Even when IT Process automation began to take hold of the manufacturing field, with cars being assembled by machines rather than assembly line workers, there was still belief that human intervention was the most coveted asset of an organization.

While it’s true that technology will never fully replace people, it’s becoming increasingly clear that automation can provide a distinct benefit beyond what any living, breathing employee could. Here’s how.

If you think about the typical day to day tasks of a data center in any given industry, you’ll inevitably come up with a list of routine, repetitive actions….managing storage, assigning network access, monitoring and responding to incoming incidents, adhering to SLAs, and countless other activities. Leaving these tasks in the hands of human employees could actually be causing your business more harm than good. Not only do these things cost valuable time and resources, but they’re very easy to mess up, leaving your organization vulnerable to costly human error.

IT process automation  solution

IT process automation provides a solution to these risks by taking just about every manual, repetitive task and allowing technology to do the heavy lifting instead. This vastly improves speed and efficiency, which in turn boosts service levels. It also eliminates the chance of mistakes made by overworked or tired human workers. And because the IT team will no longer be bogged down by menial day to day tasks, they will be able to focus on other, much more important items, vastly improving overall productivity.

Take this concept to the next level, and you’ve got the possibility of automating not just simple, repetitive tasks, but entire complex workflows. This broad term is applied to any series of events that take place in a certain pattern to achieve a desired outcome. One example of a common IT workflow is the service ticket process. A user initiates a ticket, which is retrieved and investigated by an IT team member, and either handled directly or escalated. The flow continues through resolution and the original ticket is closed, completing the workflow process.

IT workflow automation is designed to reduce and/or eliminate human intervention as much as possible. In the example above, rather than having an IT worker handle the service ticket process, the workflow could continue automatically, with responses and actions taken based on predetermined instructions. This eliminates the need for most, if not all human intervention in the process, making it faster and more accurate.

While some workflows may still require human intervention in certain situations, such as when a workflow encounters an error and cannot be completed, or when a step in a more complex process requires approval, even with these occasional interruptions, automated workflows are exponentially more efficient than if they were handled entirely by IT personnel.

It’s important to note the difference between IT process automation and scripts, which many organizations still rely on to assist with internal workflows. In comparison, IT automation provides a much greater level of control and efficiency than scripts. Automation is also much easier to manage, since scripts can be quite complicated and typically require the expertise of a tech-savvy person to write, manage and troubleshoot them. IT process automation is much more user-friendly and intuitive, and also much less prone to error.

Additionally, IT workflow automation can be integrated with existing systems to provide enhanced benefit and a more robust solution than standalone products. For example, the right automation tool integrated with an existing monitoring system can enhance the quality, speed and accuracy of incident management.

Imagine how much more valuable your IT team would be if they didn’t have to spend hours upon hours every day managing and monitoring workflows. Now, think about how your organization as a whole could benefit from improved efficiency, fewer errors, better service levels and lower expenses. When you look at it from that angle, it’s easy to see how beneficial IT workflow automation truly can be above and beyond the human team you’ve got in place.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate