What are Incident Response Playbooks?
The term playbook may not be the best, because it’s been overused and watered down in a variety of industries and contexts. Nonetheless, in a security environment, playbooks play an essential role.
A playbook is a digitized, agreed-upon process for handling a security incident. It distills the knowledge and experience of your most experienced security practitioners into a solid, repeatable process that can be followed to the letter by even the greenest of new recruits.
In SOAR platforms, playbooks generally take the form of action checklists that must be completed in a set order to ensure that every incident is processed in the best possible way. Some steps may be automated and others manual, but every step is essential to ensure proper incident remediation.
8 Benefits of Playbooks for Incident Response
Playbooks are a game-changer for incident response and have applications across the entire security function. Some of the top incident response benefits include:
- All incidents are processed as if by your top performers — When designing playbooks, your most experienced security personnel can discuss and agree on the best possible way to process common incidents. Once the playbook is agreed, your entire incident response team will be processing incidents in the same manner as your top performers.
- Playbooks can be updated easily to ensure they remain current and effective — Without playbooks, process change can be awkward and require consistent training and reminders. Playbooks, however, only need to be updated once in order to ensure all of your security personnel are using the best and latest process.
- Drastically reduced potential for human error — When working from memory, it’s easy to miss steps out, or make other simple errors that could drastically increase the organization’s level of cyber risk. Playbooks avoid this by making it easy to security personnel to record their progress through the remediation process and flagging up any missed steps along the way.
- They make it easy to incorporate automation in a consistent and helpful way — Generally, in incident response, some steps are automated and others require manual work. Playbooks make it easy to build automation into your processes and enable security personnel to initiate complex automated functions at the press of a button.
- Better reporting on security incidents — Being able to identify which incidents are “open” and how long they have been open for is essential to ensuring nothing has been missed. Playbooks make it easy (and automatic) to record incident processing progress, and SOAR platforms take things a stage further by incorporating instant reporting functionality.
- Drastically improved speed of incident processing — The combination of playbooks with other SOAR functionality ensures drastic speed improvements for incident processing. Security personnel can access all of the functionality they need to remediate an incident from directly inside the relevant playbook, removing the need to ever spend time switching between technologies.
- Easy to see who is working on what incident — At a glance, security leaders can obtain instant visibility into which incidents are being processed, and by whom.
- Better and faster collaboration — Inside SOAR platforms, playbooks make it easy to send updates and requests to other personnel and departments, including follow-ups where necessary.