Security Incident Response in a Pandemic: The Fundamentals

When dealing with a pandemic, the last thing you want to be worrying about is security incidents and how to respond to them. However, the key to any successful incident response strategy is preparation – and that means training your team in advance on how to handle possible security incidents in an outbreak. Let’s review some of the most common security incident responses and some tips on how you can better prepare yourself and your team.

Developing and Maintaining Incident Response Plan

Developing and maintaining an incident response plan can help your organization respond more effectively to potential security incidents. A well-organized, regularly updated response plan will ensure that you have all of your bases covered should a disaster strike, whether a natural disaster or an actual security incident.

Detection and Containment

There’s no way to stop a pandemic; you can only delay it. But responding quickly and aggressively to detect, contain, and the answer is critical to preventing infection from spreading exponentially. You may think your business is immune from harm or an attack—but what happens if your employees all get sick? How does your business recover from that?

Controlling an Incursion

Even with an entire chain of command, it can be difficult to maintain control during an incursion. Key information could be delayed, hacked, or changed. This is why all security incident response plans include contingencies for those situations when standard communication and control protocols break down.

Responding to the Situation

Whether or not you’re responsible for security incident response during a pandemic, it’s important to prepare yourself to deal with potential security incidents. Before disaster strikes, a little bit of planning can go a long way toward keeping your business secure and thriving during and after pandemic events. Here are some essentials of security incident response during a pandemic.

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Determine the Cause

A pandemic is an outbreak of infectious disease that spreads through human populations across a large region; it could be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other pathogens. These outbreaks are rare but have happened with some regularity over recent history. For example, smallpox was endemic to Europe before being eradicated during vaccination campaigns in 1798-1881. Smallpox then persisted in Siberia until 1959, when medical teams finally tracked down and vaccinated every person on earth.

Communicate with Stakeholders

It is an incredibly important first step, but often one that’s overlooked. If you don’t engage with key stakeholders—the leadership, other departments, and teams involved—from day one, you’re not likely to have their buy-in when it comes time to implement your plan. This can lead to resistance down the road, or worse yet, failure of your entire program.

Move Forward

Once you’ve identified that there’s been an incident, it’s time to decide whether to move forward with your response. If you move forward, each team member must understand their role in the response process and act accordingly. During a pandemic, for example, one of your key roles will be working alongside the leadership to communicate with customers and employees so that everyone can remain as safe as possible.


Establishing good incident response fundamentals will help you prepare to handle anything thrown at you during a real-life outbreak. Your plan should be flexible and scalable, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be thorough, either. Follow these five fundamental tips to create an ironclad security incident response plan that will serve your organization well when something inevitably goes wrong.

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