Top 8 Incident Response Plan Templates
What Is an Incident Response Plan Template?
An incident response plan template is a comprehensive checklist of the roles and responsibilities of an incident response team in the event of a security incident. It also describes the steps and actions required to detect a security incident, understand its impact, and control the damage.
The incident response plan template provides a general framework that can be adapted to a specific organization. You can save time by taking an established template and customizing it to your policies and organizational structure.
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Components of an Incident Response Plan Template
Most incident response plan templates follow a common framework with similar elements. In general, most incident response programs cover the following elements, all of which must be represented in the incident response plan.
Related content: Read our guide to incident response planning.
Purpose and Scope
Determining the ultimate goals of an incident response strategy, including specific recovery goals, will help you focus your efforts on better addressing imminent threats. This may include specific statements about the scope of the program, including its limitations. For example, if you have multiple offices, your incident response plan might only focus on one geographic location, while others will have different plans.
In many cases, organizations develop multiple incident response plans to address significant threats. While this specificity can be helpful, a single document referenced in an emergency increases the likelihood that the individual responding to the incident will take appropriate action.
The best approach is to create a single master plan, and consider supporting documents with special considerations for critical scenarios. Here are several possible scenarios that might justify a separate incident response plan and process:
Zero-day attack on critical systems
Loss of data communication due to attacks on IT networks
Data loss due to ransomware, malware or theft
Loss of intellectual property
Roles and Responsibilities
If your network is under cyber attack, it must be clear who will put the response plan into action. Determining the response team's key roles in advance and practicing the incident response process will help teams work faster and with more confidence during an attack.
The incident response plan template should include the individuals responsible for carrying out incident response, specifying their title and contact information, to minimize uncertainty about who does what.
Incident Response Process
This section is the heart of your incident response plan. It is the actual sequence of events that should be followed by the team in response to an active cyber threat. Keep in mind that the process will not be a match for every situation, so it should have enough flexibility to allow teams to decide which steps are most appropriate to the threat at hand.
Related content: Read our guide to incident response process.
Incident Response Template Examples
Created by: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Organizing a Computer Security Incident Response Capability
Handling an Incident
Coordination and Information Sharing
Incident Handling Scenarios
Incident-Related Data Elements
Created by: NASA
Incident management lifecycle overview
Incident management roles and responsibilities
Incident management lifecycle
Incident management framework
3. Berkeley University
Created by: Berkeley University
Incident response procedures
Created by: International Legal Technology Association
The incident response team
Security breach definition
Incident classification procedures
Regular testing and remediation efforts
5. California Government Department of Technology
Created by: California Government Department of Technology
Contents: 17-step basic incident response procedure, with references to more detailed, specialized response plans for different incident types, including system failure, malware, and intrusion.
6. State of Michigan
Created by: State of Michigan
Incident detection and analysis
Threat containment, eradication, and recovery
The incident response team
The incident response process tree
7. Government of Victoria, Australia
Created by: Victorian Government
Common cyber incidents and responses
Roles and responsibilities
Incident response process
Resolution action plan
Assets and key contacts
Created by: Paul Kirvan
Plan overview, scope, exclusions and planning scenarios
Local sequence of events, local incident response teams and activities
Notification, escalation and declaration process
Incident response checklists: contact lists, initial IR checklist, local incident management team checklist, manager task checklist, EOC command staff checklist
Incident management forms
Best Practices for Designing an Incident Response Plan
When designing an incident response plan based on the template, keep the following in mind:
The response plan should provide guidance for incidents based on their severity and impact.
The plan should separate incidents of different types—for example, a ransomware attack requires a different response than a SQL injection attack.
Define a required response and resolution time based on the incident severity level.
The plan should include a clear process for incident escalation.
Incident response often requires contacting members of the team outside business hours. The plan should clearly state who is the first point of contact and provide backup contacts in case the first responder is not available.
The plan should also be clear on communication paths, what should be communicated and to whom, and include specific contact details.
It is important that the plan be reviewed at least quarterly to update it according to lessons learned from actual incidents and new threats.