FEMA and CISA's New Incident Response Guidance

November 13, 2023
FEMA and CISA's New Incident Response Guidance

For cybersecurity departments, staying one step ahead of the bad guys is a daily endeavor. That's why the recent release of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance on incident response and preparedness is being discussed this week. This first-ever release of a joint venture between these government agencies represents a significant paradigm shift in how we approach cybersecurity preparedness at the federal level.

The Evolution of Cybersecurity Guidance

For years the cybersecurity community has relied on industry best practices to safeguard digital assets and critical infrastructure. These best practices have been our guiding light, helping organizations to plan and respond to cyber threats; albeit with a good bit of “interpretation” and no specific road map.

What was once considered to be best practice has now received a formal government endorsement. Federal employees tasked with these responsibilities are no longer confronted with confusion and inconsistency due to lack of federal direction. Organizations can develop, strategize, plan, execute, and test a robust incident response plan that is fully within Federal guidelines.

Preparedness for Significant Cyber Incidents

Perhaps the most critical aspect of this guidance is its emphasis on preparedness for significant cyber incidents. These are not your everyday data breaches but events that could have severe repercussions for national security, public health, safety, or the economy. The guidance outlines the importance of being ready for real world scenarios and the need for testing and adapting your plan based on actual data.

To put this into perspective, the guidance outlines a "live fire" exercise performed by the State of Michigan. This illustrates the importance of practical exercises that go beyond the table-top and can provide organizations with a strong list of lessons learned and other benefits. These exercises simulate cyber incidents, allowing agencies and their partners to test their response capabilities in a controlled environment. It's like a fire drill for the digital age, ensuring that when a real cyber crisis strikes, agencies are ready to respond effectively.

The Future of Cybersecurity Preparedness

In conclusion, FEMA and CISA's new incident response guidance represents a significant milestone in securing a system containing federal data. It aligns with the government's cybersecurity priorities, formalizes best practices, and prepares us for the most severe cyber incidents.

At EIT, we are excited as we already have clients asking us to help plan and prepare for these drills to help test and strengthen their incident response strategy. If you are interested in participating in these types of exercises, contact us at


FEMA and CISA Incident Response Guidance

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework

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