Last updated: 10 January 2020
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Incident response is a vital part of any email defence strategy. As you know, it’s impossible to 100% protect an organisation from email threats, mainly because threats constantly evolve. Therefore, a responsible organisation knows that a bulletproof email security strategy doesn’t just prevent attacks, it responds effectively to the incidents that slip through.

But effective incident response takes time, time that your IT department doesn’t have if it wants to keep the organisation secure and deliver digital transformation. Fortunately, there is a solution: automation. Today, we’re going to look at how automation can help IT departments manage incident response processes more effectively.

Why IT Departments Must Automate Incident Response

How long does it take to resolve an email attack? 212 minutes on average. That’s according to a recent report from Barracuda on how long it takes for organisations to remediate an email attack. Moreover, the same research showed that 11% of organisations spend a staggering 6+ hours on investigation and remediation.

There’s a good reason why incident response is such a time-consuming part of cybersecurity. It requires close care and attention from experienced IT professionals, who draw on their extensive knowledge of email threats to judge the risks posed by new incidents. When dealing with threats, IT managers need to confirm that no malicious agent has seeped into the system. 

In addition, IT managers must assess whether they have identified every inbox that has been targeted by phishing or spear phishing. Then they need to remove all malicious email messages from user inboxes before they can move on with their response to the incident. All this means IT managers must comb through a substantial part of their organisation’s infrastructure to keep it secure.

However, problems arise when you consider that few IT departments have the resources necessary to manually assess every flagged incident in a timely manner.

In fact, given that organisations have, on average, over 700 malicious emails in inboxes that users could access at any time, it could take days for some IT departments to overcome reported incidents. What’s more, 80% of organisations take over 6 hours to respond to email attacks. In that time, attackers could steal and extort millions and cause untold organisational damage.

Not only are IT managers fighting a losing battle, they are spending all their time responding to incidents instead of innovating and updating their organisation’s security stance. As a result, organisations are even more susceptible to attack – which in turn means that even more of IT manager time is being eaten up by incident response.

But there is another way. Automation can empower IT managers by streamlining the incident response process, freeing up the IT department to deliver transformative solutions for the organisation.

How Automated Incident Response Protects Inboxes

No IT department has the capacity to respond to every email threat manually. But an automated incident response solution can pave the way to a more secure inbox, streamlining the response process by taking away repetitive manual tasks.

Automated Remediation

With automated incident response, remediation occurs faster and at scale. Threat intelligence updates constantly, with new threats added every second. As the database updates, all malicious messages are automatically removed from user inboxes without IT admin input.

The advantage of automated remediation is that existing messages that were once classified safe can be recategorised malicious and automatically removed. This further secures your user inboxes. It reduces exposure by removing and containing threats faster and on a continuous basis.

Immediate Response

Following an incident report, IT admins can use automated incident response to search every inbox in your organisation and identify all recipients of malicious messages. You can then automatically remove every malicious message and send warnings to every user about the threat.

In practice, the benefits of this are two-fold. Firstly, you remove the threat and stop it from causing damage. Secondly, you educate your users about the current threat, making it less likely that this type of malicious email could threaten your organisation in the future.

Damage Analysis & Limitation

After an incident is reported, it takes time to assess the damage caused. If you were to do this manually, you would have to investigate every user inbox looking for the malicious message and remove them when you find them. You would then need to determine who, if anyone, interacted with the malicious messages and/or links. But the possibility of human error (e.g. overlooking a user) and capacity issues make this time consuming and therefore costly. 

Automated incident response is different. It allows you to quickly identify every user who clicked a malicious link. The platform can also be used to send automated password update requests to users. Some solutions can also offer security awareness training to bolster user knowledge and prevent future incidents.

Defend Against Future Threats

Every malicious email that comes to your organisation isn’t just a threat, it’s an opportunity to bolster your defences. Automated incident response solutions can be used to block future emails from malicious accounts or emails that look like threats. 

You can also use automated incident response to identify your most vulnerable users. This makes it easier to protect these vulnerable users from future threats.

Automate Your Incident Response Process Today

As you can see, there’s a clear case for automating incident response. Not only can it help speed up your incident response time, it can free up your IT team to deliver technology updates that will take your organisation into the next decade and beyond.

We’ll be looking at other ways to enhance your cybersecurity strategy over the coming weeks, so be sure to watch this space.

Have any other ideas about how incident response processes can be improved? We’d love to hear them. Feel free to get in touch and share your insights.

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