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Incident Response in Cybersecurity: Building Cyber Resilience

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Mar 1, 2024
Cybersecurity Professionals Talking in an Office and Looking at a Laptop.

Incident Response in Cybersecurity: Building Cyber Resilience

Effective cybersecurity strategies are about more than just protecting assets. They’re also about allowing companies to deliver consistent results regardless of what tech-related challenges may arise. This endgame is often referred to as cyber resilience: a holistic approach to business operations that incorporates organizational resilience and information systems security with business continuity. Optimal cybersecurity resilience can be achieved through the development of incident response plans. 

Incident response in cybersecurity is key to thwarting data breaches, a cybercrime issue that impacted about 422 million individuals in 2022, according to the data-gathering organization Statista. While a straightforward goal of protecting companies and keeping their data safe from cyber attacks drives the concept, a proper incident response strategy can be complex. As such, educated and qualified cybersecurity professionals should understand an incident response’s components and how they mesh to form actionable plans.

What’s an Incident Response?

Also known as a cybersecurity incident response, incident response is a blanket term for the processes that an organization has established to detect and respond to any cybercrime-related activity. This can include cyber attacks, breaches in security, or general cyber threats. Ideally, incident responses are proactive strategies, designed to address and defeat cybercrime episodes before they occur. The strategies are also built to mitigate the disruptions caused by successful cyber attacks. These disruptions can range from handling the cost of resolving a data breach issue to repairing a company’s reputation among its current and potential customers.

Incident Response Teams

Incident response teams drive effective incident responses. These teams consist of a group of professionals who focus on various aspects of cybersecurity before, during, and after a cyber attack. Cybersecurity professionals form the backbone of these teams, as their work focuses on tracking potential system vulnerabilities, recommending resolutions to strengthen these weaknesses, and controlling the damages of a successful attack.

An incident response team will also include a communications team tasked with keeping an organization’s principals informed of any activity. It also typically features employees outside the cybersecurity department — such as human resources or legal counsel — who can help with business continuity and potential criminal investigations in the event of a breach. In larger companies, this team can involve representation from an organization’s C-suite, such as a chief security officer (CSO).

Collectively, these teams form a framework to address cyber attacks. This framework is held strong by different phases of cybersecurity, such as threat preparation, threat identification, containment, elimination, recovery, and learning from mistakes. These phases help a company develop and fortify the level of cyber resilience needed to keep systems and networks safe and secure.

Types of Cybersecurity Incidents

A potential cyber attack can take on many forms. Each type can cause chaos within a system in different ways. An incident response team must be cognizant of the most common types of attacks to effectively safeguard systems from potential damage.

Denial of Service Attacks

Denial of service (DoS) attacks overwhelm a system’s or network’s resources with illegitimate service requests. This tactic ties up the resources needed for the system to handle legitimate requests, eventually resulting in a complete site shutdown. This ultimately increases a site’s vulnerability, making it easier for criminals to penetrate the system. A similar tactic, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, also strives to drain a system’s resources in the process.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

In a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, cyber attackers can wedge themselves between two networks or computers as they exchange data. This process allows the attacker to intercept the data and either access or modify it before it reaches its final, legitimate destination.


A ransomware attack involves a targeted user’s downloading of malware from a website or an email attachment. The malware encrypts the user’s workstation or even the user’s network; the encryption remains in place until the victim pays a ransom to the attacker.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks, similar to ransomware, use individuals to gain access to data. The attacker sends the victim an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or a government agency. A successful attack occurs when the victim unwittingly provides the attacker with sensitive information.

>SQL Injection Attacks

In a Structured Query Language (SQL) injection attack, cyber attackers use a SQL query to trick a system into performing a task that would normally be triggered by another command, such as a login or a password. This tactic can allow an attacker to gain access to password-protected sensitive data.

These cyber attacks are common, but they represent a fraction of the full spectrum of potential cyber attacks that professionals may encounter. An incident response team that builds up a solid level of cyber resilience can help an organization and its workforce identify these potential threat types with greater effectiveness and efficiency.

How an Incident Response Team Builds Cyber Resilience

For incident response in cybersecurity to lead toward improved cyber resilience, the incident response team must initially develop a detailed incident response plan. This acts as a blueprint that details key elements and actions regarding cybersecurity strategies and cyber attacks. The details typically covered by this blueprint include the following:

  • What threats and system exploits require attention as potential security incidents
  • Who’s responsible for specific tasks within the cybersecurity process
  • When a team member should perform specific tasks
  • How members of the incident response team should execute the tasks

To address these points, an incident response plan should lead with an overview and contain a list of roles and responsibilities. It should also feature a breakdown of procedures involving the detection, elimination, and recovery from cyber attack incidents. The plan should address the state of a system’s infrastructure and security controls. A resilient cybersecurity strategy will leverage this plan to optimize processes, shoring up vulnerabilities and mitigating potential gaps in the recovery process.

Cybersecurity resilience can also be curated on an individual level. Since attacks like ransomware and phishing can initially target individuals instead of full systems, incident response teams must include opportunities to instruct a company’s workforce on the importance of cybersecurity. This can involve educating employees on the importance of using stronger passwords or tactics on how to spot potentially fake emails from an alleged reputable source.

Build a Safe and Resilient System

Cyber resilience starts with strong cybersecurity professionals. By developing proactive strategies that identify and address threats before they turn into exploits, these professionals can keep an organization free from cyber attacks and their fallout. This can ultimately allow a business to remain focused on striving toward its growth and stability goals.

The University of Tulsa’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security program can help you get ready to be the core member of an incident response team. Our program is designed to help you fortify your expertise in keeping a company’s networks and systems safe from disruptive agents — something that can ultimately transform you into a trusted leader in the workforce. Learn how we can give you the tools to succeed in a crucial field.

Recommended Readings

Cybersecurity Defense Strategies: The Role of Cybersecurity in National Security

8 Myths About Cybersecurity Careers

8 Reasons Demand for Cybersecurity Professionals Will Keep Rising


AT&T, Incident Response Team: What Are the Roles and Responsibilities?

Fortinet, Types of Cyber Attacks

IBM, What Is Cyber Resilience?

IBM, What Is Incident Response?

Statista, Annual Number of Data Compromises and Individuals Impacted in the United States From 2005 to 2022

TechTarget, “What Is Incident Response? Plans, Teams and Tools”

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