Choosing the Right Notification Tool for Incident Response Plan

Incident Response Plan

Incident Response Plan – Introduction

Is your IT team ready to respond to an increasing volume of data security incidents? According to the 2021 Annual Data Breach report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, 2021 saw a record number of data breaches, representing a 68% increase from the year prior.

The most recent Cost of a Data Breach report from IBM shares the Ponemon Institute’s finding that the average data breach is a $4.24 million expense, up 9.8% from the previous year.

Given the rising velocity and cost of such threats, IT teams must have an incident response plan in place so that they can act quickly, efficiently, and consistently in the event of crises. This blog will cover:

What is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is an established process for identifying and addressing anomalies and incidents.

Though specific incident response plans will vary to best suit the unique needs of each organization, most will use a framework similar to the following six steps established by the SANS Institute in their Incident Handler’s Handbook:

  1. Preparation: Organizations must proactively create and document an incident response plan to be followed during incidents. Team members must be educated about their roles and responsibilities in this plan.
  2. Identification: In this step, information is gathered to determine the nature of the potential incident at hand. 
  3. Containment: Once the incident has been identified, efforts are made to prevent it from expanding in scope and affecting other systems.
  4. Eradication: At this point, great care is taken to completely remove malware from affected systems.
  5. Recovery: Systems are carefully restored with protection against future attacks.
  6. Lessons Learned: Once recovery is complete, documentation is reviewed to determine what caused the incident and how similar threats can be prevented in the future.

An integral component of successfully enacting your incident response plan in the event of emergency is an incident notification tool. Also referred to as incident alert systems, incident notification tools allow IT organizations to automatically route IT incidents such as data breaches, outages, or threats to the proper on-call engineer.

Incident notification tools reliably deliver notifications in the form of persistent, high-priority messages, surfacing them beyond the cluttered channels of SMS and emails. When deciding which incident notification tools can best support your organization’s incident response plan, here are some important factors to consider:

On-Call Schedules and Escalation Groups

Your entire incident response team cannot all be online 24/7, nor are they all equally equipped to deal with each specific type of incident.

Operating without on-call schedules as part of your incident response plan is setting your organization up for costly coverage failures or ill-advised responses, tarnishing business reputation and customer trust. 

An incident notification tool with on-call scheduling can route high-priority messages to personnel who will be ready to respond immediately, while other stakeholders who are off-duty can be set to receive lower priority messages to review at a later time.

Additionally, ensure that your incident notification tool includes escalation groups and failover capabilities to cover for lapses in on-call coverage.

Plug and Play Integrations to Supplement Identification

In the identification phase of any incident response plan, the issue must be quickly and accurately diagnosed before moving forward.

Though there are many tools available that can monitor and identify potential breaches or outages across your network, there is no guarantee that their findings will reach the immediate attention of your team without an incident notification tool.

Be sure that the incident notification tool you choose can extend the capabilities of your existing cloud monitoring and security tools to automatically deliver alerts containing the information needed to begin containing and eradicating the issue.

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Learning from Post-Incident Reporting

It would be easy to assume that eradication and recovery mark the end of incident response, but there’s one more crucial step.

The final phase of an incident response plan is reviewing lessons learned. To reduce repeated issues, it is imperative to make the time for thorough and structured post-incident reviews with your team in the weeks immediately following the resolution of the incident.

To supplement the incident data collected by your systems and the feedback given by your team, choose an incident alert management tool that can provide its own insightful reporting. Records of receipt and response to incident alerts by on-call personnel help create a timeline of events and instill accountability to improve the performance of IT responders.

Reduce Your Response Time with OnPage

OnPage’s incident notification tool allows IT administrators to route powerful ALERT-UNTIL-READ notifications to on-call engineers. These high-priority notifications override do not disturb settings on mobile phones to reach your team ASAP and reduce the ongoing costs of unresolved incidents.

Supporting a versatile range of integrations including AWS CloudWatch, ServiceNow, and ConnectWise, OnPage is a seamless addition to your incident response workflows.

To learn more and request a demo, visit or give us a call at +1 (781) 916-0040.

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