Incident management is a practice that is often slowed down by age-old processes that every organizations have set up years ago. Traditionally, on-call IT professionals get informed of these incidents via customers, stakeholders, or monitoring tools. With data centers, this process was relatively easy. Because IT teams would be responsible for operations, the response would take a few hours to a few days depending on the complexity of the incident. This was the best you could get before the cloud came into the picture. Today, organizations don’t have days to respond to an incident. They need to find ways to bring response time down to a few minutes.
Today, with the advent of the cloud, things are pretty different from what they used to be. Operations is not a time-consuming job. Organizations leveraging the cloud can easily and quickly create new resources and scale them up and down based on their needs. Due to the flexibility and speed the cloud offers, developers can deliver products faster. And, with the rise of microservices and DevOps, teams can build new releases at lightning-fast speeds. However, there’s a downside to this rapid innovation: the sheer complexity of the workloads. With organizations gravitating towards multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud platforms, the infrastructure can sometimes become a patchwork of different tools that might not always work well with each other. Inevitably, incident management becomes a time-consuming process.
Modern workloads offer a large attack surface. When teams write services in different languages, use APIs to link said services, and have limited visibility into the workload, you are left with a messy application that is almost impossible to debug manually. The rate at which teams deliver in the age of CI/CD makes incident management even harder. Newer security incidents can start to pile up before support teams have the time to resolve the backlog. This can lead to fatigue and burnout. So, how do you make sure your security incidents are handled better and faster?
Make your software security incident management a breeze
Let’s look at 5 ways to help you manage your security incidents better so that you stay ahead of the curve and not be buried under a pile of said incidents.
1. Effectively identify the threat and log it
This is the first step in your incident management process. However, this can prove to be the most challenging part. Distributed workload’s complex build makes it extremely hard to locate a security vulnerability. It’s hard to follow the logs with disparate components written in different programming languages being wholly walled off. Without proper visibility into the entire application, finding a security flaw can be like finding a needle in a haystack. This can take hours, if not days. To make your job easier, you should use monitoring tools that give you visibility into your entire infrastructure. This way, you can identify the threat and document it quickly.
2. Prioritize the incidents
The volume of service tickets can be huge, and IT teams can’t solve all of these issues. Even if you have teams on-call 24-7, they can’t address all the incidents. What can be done here, however, is prioritization. Teams can identify the severity of each incident and make sure they address the ones that need urgent response. However, manually checking the severity of each incident is a cumbersome process in and of itself. To help prioritize security incidents easier, you can have some sort of automation in place that can deduplicate incidents notifications, identify vital services, understand the impact on business, and categorize each incident. This way, support teams can address the incidents that need immediate attention.
And, when you categorize each incident properly, you can see the trends in your incidents and expedite response to known issues.
3. Implement a Cloud Agnostic toolchain
Security implementation isn’t an easy task if you don’t have the right tools. A Cloud Native tool meant to integrate well and work with only one cloud vendor won’t work well with services hosted on-prem or other cloud environments. Using a cloud platform and its tools is convenient because you don’t have to worry about integration. However, the problem comes when you have a multi or hybrid cloud infrastructure. Tools by different vendors might not integrate well with each other, leaving teams having to monitor various security tools and try to fill the gaps on their own. This is inefficient and doesn’t give you visibility into your entire workload.
To enable a proper security strategy, you need Cloud Agnostic tools. You can have a single solution to help secure your workloads no matter what environment they are hosted in. And, these tools are easy to integrate with your CI/CD pipelines and other tools in your infrastructure.
4. Plan effective incident communication
The right people should be notified when an incident occurs. The right people include the on-call support teams, the customers, and the stakeholders involved. IT teams should design an alert routing plan based on incident severity. The people can be notified in several ways depending on how relevant the incident is to them. The on-call support staff, for example, should have a dedicated status page where they can monitor the security status of applications, and it should notify users when an incident occurs. Teams can use automation to contact the right people without relaying this information via email. IT teams can fix the bug by automating alert routing rather than notifying everyone of the incident.
5. Conduct postmortems and create runbooks
Once an incident is resolved, teams should spend time finding the reason for the issue and document these reasons to help teams avoid circumstances that lead to the incident in the first place. IT personnel should also create runbooks that document steps taken to resolve an issue so on-call teams can resolve matters in a fraction of the time.
Software incident management doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right approach and practical tools, you can empower your support teams to have a proactive and not reactive approach to incident management.
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