IR.2.092 Incident Preparation (CMMC Level 2)

Establish an operational incident-handling capability for organizational systems that includes preparation, detection, analysis, containment, recovery, and user response activities.

Source Discussion

Organizations recognize that incident handling capability is dependent on the capabilities of organizational systems and the mission/business processes being supported by those systems. Organizations consider incident handling as part of the definition, design, and development of mission/business processes and systems. Incident-related information can be obtained from a variety of sources including audit monitoring, network monitoring, physical access monitoring, user and administrator reports, and reported supply chain events. Effective incident handling capability includes coordination among many organizational entities including mission/business owners, system owners, authorizing officials, human resources offices, physical and personnel security offices, legal departments, operations personnel, procurement offices, and the risk executive.

As part of user response activities, incident response training is provided by organizations and is linked directly to the assigned roles and responsibilities of organizational personnel to ensure that the appropriate content and level of detail is included in such training. For example, regular users may only need to know who to call or how to recognize an incident on the system; system administrators may require additional training on how to handle or remediate incidents; and incident responders may receive more specific training on forensics, reporting, system recovery, and restoration. Incident response training includes user training in the identification/reporting of suspicious activities from external and internal sources. User response activities also include incident response assistance which may consist of help desk support, assistance groups, and access to forensics services or consumer redress services, when required.

NIST SP 800-61 provides guidance on incident handling. SP 800-86 and SP 800-101 provide guidance on integrating forensic techniques into incident response. SP 800-161 provides guidance on supply chain risk management.

CMMC Clarification

Incident handling should include activities that prepare your organization to respond to incidents. These activities may include the following:

  • identify people inside and outside your organization you may need to contact during an incident;
  • establish a way to report incidents, such as an email address or a phone number;
  • establish a system for tracking incidents; and
  • determine a place and a way to store evidence of an incident.

You may need software and hardware to analyze incidents when they occur. You should also consider incident prevention activities as part of your incident-handling capability. The incident handling team provides input for such things as risk assessments and training.

Your organization should detect incidents in different ways. Use indicators to detect incidents. Indicators are things that don’t look like what you expect. Examples include:

  • alerts from your sensors or antivirus software;
  • a filename that looks unusual; and
  • a log entry that raises concern.

After you detect an incident, you should analyze it to decide what to do. To analyze an incident, you need to know what should be occurring on your network and what should not. This will help you determine when an incident may have occurred. It may also help you decide what to do about it. You should also document what you know about the incident. Include all the log entries associated with the incident in your documentation.

Containment of the incident is important. This stops the damage the incident is causing to your network. You should base the containment activities you do on your incident analysis. These activities can include:

  • disconnecting a system from the internet; and
  • changing firewall settings to stop an attack.

Recovery activities are things to fix that caused the incident. This will help prevent the incident from happening again. Recovery activities also include things that fix the affected systems, including:

  • restoring backup data; and
  • reinstalling software. User response activities include:
  • performing a lessons-learned analysis;
  • deciding if you should contact the police; and
  • updating any policy or plans as a result of after incident analysis.

Incident handling capabilities prepare your organization to respond to incidents and may:

  • identify people inside and outside your organization you may need to contact during an incident;
  • establish a way to report incidents, such as an email address or a phone number;
  • establish a system for tracking incidents; and
  • determine a place and a way to store evidence of an incident [b].

This practice may be thought of as an umbrella practice supported by IR.2.093, IR.2.094, and IR.2.096. Further detail on these objectives are provided in the practices on detection and reporting of events (IR.2.093), the analysis and correlation of events that result in a

declaration that an event is actually an incident (IR.2.094), and responding to declared incidents with predefined procedures (IR.2.096).

Software and hardware may be required to analyze incidents when they occur. Incident prevention activities are also part of an incident-handling capability. The incident-handling team provides input for such things as risk assessments and training.

Contractors detect incidents using different indicators. Indicators may include:

  • alerts from sensors or antivirus software,
  • a filename that looks unusual, and
  • log entries that raise concern.

After detecting an incident, an incident response team performs analysis [c,d]. This requires some knowledge of normal network operations. The incident should be documented including all the log entries associated with the incident.

Containment of the incident is a critical step to stop the damage the incident is causing to your network. Containment activities should be based on previously defined organizational priorities and assessment of risk.

Recovery activities restore systems to pre-incident functionality and address its underlying causes. Organizations should use recovery activities as a means of improving their overall resilience to future attacks.


Example 1

Your manager asks you to set up your organization’s incident response capability. First, you create an email address to collect information on possible incidents. Next, you draft a contact list of all the people in the organization who need to know when an incident occurs. Then, you write down a procedure for how to submit incidents. This includes what everyone should do when a potential incident is detected or reported. The procedure also explains how to track incidents, from initial creation to closure.

Example 2

You receive an email alert about a possible incident. An employee identified a suspicious email message as a phishing attempt. First, you document the incident in your incident tracking system. Then, you immediately reference your defined procedures for handling incidents. For example, you send an email to your employees alerting them not to open a similar email. You also start collecting information around the reported incident.

Example 3

In response to the suspicious email, you perform a set of actions. You reinstall the software on the machine of the user involved. This means that the individual no longer has an infected machine. You update your phishing protection software. This ensures that it can block the latest phishing attacks. You update your training material to emphasize the threat of phishing emails.


NIST SP 800-171 Rev 1 3.6.1
NIST CSF v1.1. RS.RP-1
NIST SP 800-53 Rev 4 IR-2, IR-4
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