Incident Response

Incident response is the organized approach to managing and mitigating security incidents when they occur. It involves categorizing incidents based on their severity, quickly identifying and confirming them, then escalating to the appropriate response teams. The response process includes containing and eradicating the threat, recovering affected systems, and communicating with stakeholders. Thorough documentation and post-incident analysis ensure that lessons are learned and security measures are continuously improved. 

What is an Incident Response Plan?

Simply put, an incident response plan is a proactive strategy designed to guide an organization's response to cybersecurity incidents and data breaches. These incidents can encompass a wide range of events, from cyberattacks and malware infections to accidental data leaks and hardware failures. The purpose of an incident response plan is to provide a structured and coordinated approach to identifying, managing, and mitigating these incidents.

Why Do We Need an Incident Response Plan?

Minimizing Damage: When a cybersecurity incident occurs, time is of the essence. Having an incident response plan in place allows you to respond swiftly and decisively, minimizing the potential damage to your organization's operations, reputation, and financial stability.

Protecting Sensitive Information: Your organization holds a wealth of sensitive data, from employee and patron information to proprietary business data. An incident response plan helps you protect this invaluable data, ensuring that it remains confidential and secure.

Meeting Regulatory Requirements: Libraries and government are subject to various data protection and privacy regulations. An incident response plan not only helps you comply with these regulations but also demonstrates your commitment to safeguarding sensitive information.

Preserving Trust: Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets. A well-executed incident response plan can help you preserve the trust of your patrons, board members, and other governing bodies by demonstrating your ability to handle cybersecurity challenges professionally and transparently.

Preventing Recurrence: Learning from each incident is essential. An incident response plan includes mechanisms for post-incident analysis, allowing you to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your cybersecurity defenses and take steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Key Components of an Incident Response Plan

An effective incident response plan typically includes the following components:

• Incident Response Team: Identifies key personnel responsible for responding to incidents.

• Incident Classification: Defines how incidents are categorized based on severity.

• Incident Reporting: Outlines the process for reporting and escalating incidents.

• Incident Response Procedures: Details the steps to be taken during an incident, from initial assessment to recovery.

• Communication Plan: Specifies how internal and external communication will be handled during an incident.

• Documentation: Emphasizes the importance of documenting all actions and outcomes during an incident.

• Training and Awareness: Ensures that employees are trained to recognize and report potential incidents.


An incident response plan is not just a technical document; it's a strategic asset that helps protect your libraries, data, and reputation. It provides a roadmap for how you respond when the unexpected happens in the digital realm. By having an effective incident response plan in place, you demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity and your ability to weather the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world.

Incident Response Plan Template

The following Incident Response Plan Template is just that: A template. It can be used exactly as is, or it can be changed in any way. This is meant to be a guide to create an IR Plan that fits your library system. Text in green is meant to be an example of what the section may state and can be used as is. Text in blue includes information covering what can be included in the sections and should be filled in as necessary or removed. Customize this document to fit the needs of your library and system.

This IR Plan can also be expanded to include physical security breaches. For example, unauthorized access to locked areas such as server rooms, areas that require a badge or security key, what to do when a badge or key is lost or stolen, etc.

IR Template

Incident Response Plan Template

To Download: Open Template > "File" > "Make a copy"

Please feel free to reach out to if you have any questions or would like to discuss your incident response strategy further.