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How To Create A Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Process?

How To Create A Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Process?

Despite your best efforts, the danger of a cybersecurity breach will always be there. After all, there are so many scam artists in the world, many of which operate across borders to avoid prosecution. Since law enforcement cannot realistically deal with all of these threats, companies and other private organizations have to operate independently. That includes the creation of a cybersecurity incident reporting plan. Those initial reports are the first step in the process of dealing with such an incident, so they are quite important to your overall cybersecurity situation.

Why Do You Need A Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Process?

When it’s time to respond to a cybersecurity incident, those directing that response will need to have some idea of what they need to do. At the very least, they need a good starting point. A complete and accurate report will provide that, but only if it is made in the right way.

Without some kind of plan, most people will simply report whatever information they think to be most important. However, many small details can be missed. This wastes time, as someone will then have to go back to the witness and get the rest of the story. If the report is made correctly in the first place, there will be no need for this kind of delay.

Start With A Template

The easiest method is to have a standard report form that people can fill out if they observe suspicious activity. This ensures that everyone will know what information is required. Needless to say, it is important to go over these plans ahead of time so that everyone knows what sort of information to remember.

A good cybersecurity incident report template should include:

  • Name or names of all witnesses
  • Date and time at which the incident occurred/was detected
  • Specfiic services affected by the incident
  • A large space in which a detailed account can be written
  • Multiple signature lines
  • Detail of any action taken (if any)

Regulatory Compliance Must Also Be Considered

There are specific laws and regulations that govern the reporting of a cybersecurity incident, so make sure you understand those thoroughly before creating your reporting process. Apart from state and federal laws, there might also be industry-specific regulations to be considered. For instance, if you handle healthcare-related data, you will have to comply with HIPAA regulations. If you utilize credit card transactions, you will have to comply with PCI DSS regulations, and so forth.

Making The Process More Effective

It is easy to sit down and make a plan. Designing a template isn’t really a big deal, either. These are only the initial steps, and a lot more will have to be done in order to get the most out of your reporting process. Here are a few things on which you should focus those efforts.

Employee Training

Your IT employees should know how to identify suspicious behavior when they see it, but normal employees will be less likely to recognize a potential threat. That is why employee education is vital for the reporting process. A person cannot report an incident unless they notice it and also recognize that it is suspicious. You also don’t want people raising all kinds of false alarms, either. Training helps with all of these things and more.

You should start by teaching them how to recognize the telltale signs of a phishing attempt. These scams are often very poorly done and, therefore, very easy to recognize if one knows the signs. Such scams only work because so many people are ignorant of them. You will also want to educate people according to their jobs. For instance, if someone isn’t part of the IT department, they probably won’t need to know how to read information from network packets.

Data Aggregation

Once a report is made, you need logs and other data to verify its claims. Without such data, it is pretty hard to pin down the source of the problem, as well. Thus, you need to create a system whereby your relevant logs are aggregated (gathered into one place) and backed up on a regular basis. That will make them easier to access in the event of a cybersecurity incident.

AI Enhancement

Although an AI can’t do everything for you, it can certainly be helpful. A custom-built AI can be trained to look for certain suspicious patterns of activity and to react accordingly. Not all suspicious activity falls into prearranged patterns, but a lot of it does. It is very hard for an intruder to infiltrate or exfiltrate data without some kind of telltale sign. If it’s something deep in the system that isn’t visible in the GUI, an AI can detect it more easily than a human.


These reports should be the first step in the creation of a larger cybersecurity incident response plan. From there, you can work to stabilize the situation, correct any damage that may have occurred, inform all relevant parties as per regulations, and determine how the problem can be avoided in the future. If you need help with creating a cybersecurity incident reporting plan, or if you need help with any other IT-related matters, you can call PCH Technologies at (856)754-7500.