Cyber Incident Response 101 for Small Businesses

Imagine it’s the end of a long workday and you’re ready to head home for the evening. However, just as you’re about to leave, you find out your email credentials have been hacked and critical data has been stolen from your business. As a small business, you may have to deal with similar scenarios caused by phishing attacks, ransomware, malware or any other security threat.

The question is, do you have a plan in place to respond quickly and effectively to minimize the impact on your business?

Remember, the longer it takes to address a cyber incident, the more harm cybercriminals can do to your business, such as severe data loss and damage to your bottom line and reputation.

That’s why, in addition to having strong cybersecurity measures in place, you need to have an incident response plan to fall back on.

An incident response plan is a set of steps that can be implemented following a breach to minimize its impact and get the company back up and running as soon as possible.

Cyber Incident Response 101

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), incident response has five phases:


There are numerous security risks to be aware of in order to develop an effective incident response plan. This includes threats to your technology systems, data and operations, among other things. Understanding these risks allows you to be better prepared to respond to incidents and reduce their impact.

To identify risks, you can start by looking at system logs, examining vulnerable files or tracking suspicious employee activity.


It’s critical to create and implement appropriate safeguards to protect your business. Safeguards include security measures to guard against threats and steps to ensure the continuity of essential services in the event of an incident.

To protect your business against cyberthreats, you can use backups, implement security controls such as firewalls, and train employees on security best practices.


Quickly detecting irregularities, such as unusual network activity or someone attempting to access sensitive data, is essential to limit the damage and get your systems back up and running faster.

Deploying techniques such as intrusion detection systems (ISDs) is an effective way to tackle irregularities.


You need to have a plan in place to respond to detected cyber incidents. This plan should include strategies for breach containment, investigation and resolution.

A few things you can do to respond to an incident are isolating affected systems and cutting off access to every impacted system.


Following an incident, you must have a plan in place to resume normal business operations as soon as possible to minimize disruption.

These steps can be part of your recovery plan:

  • Restoring systems that have been affected by the attack
  • Implementing security controls to prevent the incident from happening again
  • Investigating the root cause of the event
  • Taking legal action against perpetrators

Keep in mind that a well-crafted incident response plan will help you resolve a breach, minimize the damage caused and restore normal operations quickly and effectively. It’s critical to ensure that all staff are aware of the incident response plan and know their roles and responsibilities in the event of a breach.

An incident response plan should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. Cyber incidents can occur at any time, so it’s crucial to be prepared.

Collaborate with an IT service provider to ramp up your defenses

A specialist IT service provider like us may be exactly what your business needs to develop an incident response plan. By employing our expertise and experience, we can help you:

  • Protect your business against cyber incidents
  • Create a comprehensive incident response plan
  • Abide by NIST’s five phases of incident response

These are just a few of the ways we can help you with your incident response journey. If you’re looking for help protecting your business against cyber incidents, be sure to contact us to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

To provide you with an understanding of the threats small businesses face, we created an infographic titled “Small Business Incidents: What You Can Learn From Their Experiences,” Click here to download.