How to Encourage Cyber Incident Reporting within Your Organization: Tips and Best Practices


Although cyber incidents are unavoidable in today’s digital world, they can be used to improve security by teaching you where you went wrong. Reporting incidents is morally and legally responsible and crucial for containment and identifying causes. Gain valuable insights from this article to report incidents with security awareness and enhance organizational security practices.

What is a Cyber Incident?

Any event that jeopardizes the security of your computer systems, data, or networks is considered a cyber incident. Data breaches, hostile insider assaults, ransomware outbreaks, phishing campaigns, denial-of-service attacks, and cyber espionage are just a few of the many cyber disasters that can occur. Financial losses, reputational harm, legal liabilities, regulatory fines, and interruptions in operations are some adverse outcomes that could result from a cyber event.

To What End Does It Serve to Report a Cyber Incident?

There are many benefits to reporting a cyber incident. First, it aids in bringing the crisis under control and reducing damage to property and interest holders. You can activate your incident response plan, inform your internal and external teams, and ask for help from authorities if you report a cyber event. Second, it aids in investigating the issue and figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it. After writing a cyber incident, you can collect and preserve evidence, conduct forensic investigations, and document findings and recommendations. Additionally, it helps fulfill legal and contractual responsibilities. Depending on the incident’s specifics and the sensitivity of the involved information, reporting obligations may arise. Failure to report a cyber event could result in legal repercussions, litigation, or sanctions.

The preceding paragraphs confuse various forms of journalism. The first is the initial report of an incident. Typically, this information comes from automated tools (SIEM, XDR, etc.), a user reporting an incoming attempt, or a client informing them of a compromised account. The company’s human resources department and/or top management would determine any applicable policies. The next step is for the company to notify relevant parties or authorities of the cyber event. Issues of law, contracts, etc., are addressed here. In addition to the two levels of reporting discussed, there is a third level: Information sharing between affected businesses and government bodies. This level promotes good stewardship and mitigates aggression toward others.

What to Do If You Encounter a Cyberattack?

Verify and gather incident details as the initial step in reporting a cyber incident, following your organization’s specific policies and procedures. Use a secure communication channel to inform higher-ups and escalate if needed. In serious cases, involve third parties such as customers, partners, vendors, regulators, law enforcement, and media. Seek guidance from legal and other experts, ensuring compliance with disclosure requirements and rules.

The incident response plan in place at your company should already cover many of the points raised above. However, most businesses only consider how to safeguard themselves when it comes to client safety. Reporting to others can be helpful as well. You can boost your relationship with a vendor or contractor by informing them of a BEC email one of their employees sent. Reporting a URL-laundering PDF or malicious site to a publishing site or internet register allows them to remove the threat and safeguard other users. Researchers can make connections between macro trends and stop organized actors by reporting to investigative agencies (like the FBI’s IC3 portal in the US).

What Can We Take Away From a Cyber Attack?

Reporting a cyber incident is not the end, but an opportunity for growth in security knowledge and practice. Analyzing the situation identifies its positive/negative aspects, causes, lessons learned, and areas for improvement. Take action on suggestions, maintain/test security policies/controls, provide training/awareness, track/report results, and incentivize stakeholders. Cultivate a security culture that emphasizes everyone’s responsibility in safeguarding data and reputation.

Reportable Security Incidents

Cybersecurity flaws are notoriously tricky to spot since they are typically well camouflaged. According to research conducted by IBM, the time it takes to discover and stop a data breach is 287 days. According to the same IBM analysis, businesses that respond rapidly to incidents save 30% on expenditures and can contain threats in fewer than 200 days. What kinds of security incidents should you anticipate recording as you build up an incident reporting process?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom performs an annual trend study to reveal the nature of security events that get their attention.

Reporting Security Incidents: Why It’s Crucial?

The following categories of security issues can be identified with the aid of industry intelligence:


Many cyber criminals aim their attacks toward the person operating the system. The most prevalent tactic cybercriminals use to obtain sensitive information from an employee is phishing. A security incident reporting system should easily capture information regarding a potential phishing email. The incident report should include those details if the recipient opened the message or clicked on a link. Recording subsequent events enables the assessment of the severity of the incident.

Lost Equipment

There may be confidential data on company devices. Working remotely has led to a rise in the use of both company and personal devices to access corporate cloud applications. Since more and more businesses are relying on data syncing with cloud apps, a lost or stolen device can put sensitive information in the wrong hands. A lost or stolen work phone must be reported immediately so that triage may be performed and an appropriate response can be initiated.

Unintentional Disclosure of Private Information

According to the study, 58% of workers have accidentally forwarded an email to the wrong recipient. Accidental forwarding or non-sending of emails can result in data loss and non-compliance with data protection requirements. The UK’s ICO tracks trends and identifies email-related data exposure as the primary cause of security issues. Employees must report instances of sending confidential material by email to inappropriate recipients.

Incidents Not Associated with Email

Forgetting to cc a list of recipients in an email exchange is a common cause of inadvertent data exposure. When employees realize they have neglected to cc anyone on an email, they should promptly report it to initiate triage and handle the situation according to established procedures.

Three Best Practices for Security Incident Reporting

Reporting incidents has long been recognized as an effective way to improve workplace safety. Companies can contribute to a risk-free workplace and regulatory compliance by collecting H&S data. Reporting security incidents is an outgrowth of this health and safety culture that establishes guidelines for responding to potential danger. However, some standard best practices must be met before any report can be filed:

Simple Record-Keeping

Everyone should be able to use a reporting system without any training. Guide employees through the incident entry procedure to capture the most relevant information. Avoid complex registration processes and similar requirements whenever possible.

The Right Level of Escalation

Customize incident reporting system workflows to align with the organization’s security handling approach. Prevent data breaches and security events by implementing automated workflows that deliver targeted alerts to the relevant individuals.

Examine and Report

An incident reporting system needs to have auditing and reporting capabilities. These reports can then be used to show that requirements have been met. In a data breach, the incident report might serve as the foundation for a notification report.

A security incident should never become a breach, so reporting it is crucial. The system that records incidents should support the implementation of best practices. The process starts by collecting data, which should offer simplicity for human input while providing comprehensive usefulness. Effective escalation relies on automated protocols, which also streamline the issue-reporting process.


Report cyber security incidents promptly to the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or their delegates for impact assessment and incident response monitoring. Compliance with reporting laws is essential for companies, ensuring prompt notification of cyber security events to government agencies, customers, and the public.