If your company receives a cyber attack, an incident response retainer is a fee paid to a provider who will manage the attack and restore operations to normal. Incident response (IR) refers to the plans, procedures, and technology in place to detect, analyse, and react to a cyber security incident. This includes incidents such as a data breach, ransomware attack, or other cyber threats. It is crucial for your company to minimise damage and recover operations to normal, which is why employing a robust incident response plan is important. Particularly for small and medium sized businesses, partnering with an external incident response provider on retainer is an effective approach in your cyber security strategy. We will explore the benefits of an incident response retainer and what to look for in an IR provider below.
Our blog on What is Incident Response? may help you understand what is IR and its process.
The Value of Getting Help from the Experts
- Time is of the essence when an incident occurs. Immediate analysis and containment by experts prevent additional data loss and disruption. Most businesses are not equipped to appropriately respond to cyber security events.
- IR providers have extensive experience dealing with complex attacks. They have battle-tested processes and top forensic tools to quickly understand threats and counter them.
- Retainers establish a relationship in advance, so the IR provider is familiar with your environment before an incident. This allows them to respond even faster.
- IR providers stay current on emerging cyber threats through research. They also achieve this by developing their experience when responding to incidents across their client-base.
Key Services Provided by IR Providers
IR providers offer a range of services to augment internal security teams and to help your business when you are in need. One such service is incident management which is around-the-clock incident monitoring via security tools and a complete investigation of suspicious activity. It also involves containing the attack to prevent it from causing further damage and eradicating threats across the environment.
An incident response retainer will provide your business with the support you need. Experts from the IR provider will examine compromised systems and reconstruct events leading to a breach. They also will conduct malware analysis of malicious files to help identify threat actors, their tactics, and how to protect systems from future attacks using similar malware. Lastly, an IR provider will provide you with reports and recommendations, plus strategic recommendations to improve defenses against similar incidents.
Key Attributes of a Trusted IR Partner
- Battle-Tested Experience: they have successfully responded to incidents at other businesses like yours across various industries.
- Technical capabilities: their forensic toolkit includes leading technologies that can quickly detect and counter advanced threats.
- Communication: they provide ongoing status updates during the investigation and have excellent client management processes.
- Discretion: they treat sensitive client data with care and confidentiality.
- Pricing transparency: retainer pricing is predictable without surprise add-on fees.
Selecting the Right Retainer Model
An incident response retainer is based on different models to suit unique client needs. Here are some of the common options you should find with IR providers.
Hourly Consulting Retainer
- Pay an upfront monthly fee for a set number of prepaid hours.
- Additional hours are billed if the allowance is exceeded.
- Unused hours roll over month-to-month.
Annual or Multi-Year Managed Retainer
- Most comprehensive retainer option.
- Single annual fee for complete IR services.
- No per-incident charges; the IR provider handles everything within the retainer scope.
Hybrid Custom Retainer
- Combines prepaid hours and fixed fee pricing.
- Share risk between client & IR provider.
- Allows aligning pricing to specific services needed.
Most IR providers are flexible in structuring retainers to meet client priorities and risk tolerance levels.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Cyber incidents are inevitable in today’s threat landscape. Attacks can cause severe business disruption, legal liabilities, financial damages, and reputation loss. Having a trusted incident response provider already on retainer when an incident occurs is critical. They have the expertise to rapidly understand and contain attacks before they spiral out of control. An incident response retainer also strengthens overall defences by identifying security gaps. Rather than hoping a major incident never happens, smart businesses engage an IR provider upfront. This provides a peace of mind knowing that experts are ready to respond immediately when disaster strikes.
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