Use Alerting To Improve Incident Management Process
An incident management process will usually involve an escalation procedure for the different types of incidents. The most common type of escalation is from “minor” or “non-critical” incidents to “major” or “critical” incidents. For example, Staff may handle a minor problem with email not working as expected by sending a standard message to a support desk asking them to look into it. However, if the email does not work correctly on more than one occasion, this may escalate to being deemed a significant issue requiring IT managers’ attention.
In both cases, there will be some form of communication between individuals involved in resolving the incident. This process includes verbal communications, such as when people call each other directly to ask questions about the problem and may consist of written communications such as emails sent back and forth between team members discussing the situation.
An Incident management process is a set of procedures and actions.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What an incident management process looks like
- Why an incident management process is important
- How to implement an effective incident management process
- How to use alerting to improve your incident management process
What is Incident Management?
An incident is described as “an event that could lead to any kind of loss of, or disruption of, an organization’s operational, information, or physical resources.” It can be defined as a potentially disruptive occurrence. Incidents are typically classified based on their severity, whether critical, non-critical, or minor. An incident has three components: what happened, who was impacted, and how it affected the individuals or processes at hand. In general, all incidents should have these elements present to allow for proper analysis and remediation.
When speaking of incident management, many organizations and professionals refer to the process of identifying, analyzing, and correcting potential problems. While there are multiple definitions of incident management, a basic meaning is “the continuous monitoring and response to incidents of various kinds which occur within an organization.” For example, an incident might be a failure of a computer system, while another would be a theft of company property.
What an Incident Management Process Looks Like
The primary goal of an incident management process is to develop a formalized plan to handle incidents promptly and ensure that the people responsible know what to do once the incident occurs. To help achieve this goal, the IMP must provide guidelines for handling incidents of varying levels of severity, establish clear protocols, train staff and review the plan periodically to detect changes in the environment or new issues that arise. These guidelines must also consider the availability of resources and personnel to address the incident.
Many successful companies have implemented processes to handle incidents. One example is the United States Navy, whose primary purpose is to manage maritime accidents, disasters, and emergencies. The four phases of the IMPLAN process are Incident Assessment, Planning, Implementation, and Logistics Management.
Why An Incident Management Process Is Important
Your organization will never be able to eliminate every potential threat. However, even small threats could cost millions in damages. To help reduce your risk of such costly mistakes, you must develop an effective incident management protocol, a formal, structured approach to managing and responding to incidents. Incidents don’t always happen suddenly. Sometimes they begin gradually and may only become apparent after multiple warnings. By developing and refining an incident management process, you can protect yourself against future problems. You’ll also save money because you won’t need to spend so much money to deal with more minor incidents as they arise.
How to Implement an Effective Incident Management Process
A good incident management process has several key components:
- Detection – How do we detect an incident? When it comes to detecting issues within an organization, most organizations utilize multiple methods. Some rely solely on human observation, while others deploy automated solutions. Regardless of the technique used, effective detection begins at the beginning of the incident cycle.
- Response – Once the issue has been detected, how does the organization respond? This is where people start taking action; it’s usually not until someone calls for help or logs into the company intranet that anyone notices that there’s a significant issue. As soon as it becomes clear that there is a problem, the right people must be notified and given enough information to correctly identify the nature of the issue.
- Reporting – After the issue has been identified, how is it reported? Because reporting is one of the last stages of an incident, it takes a lot of effort to ensure that the correct details are captured. The data collected during reporting must be stored securely to further analysis later.
- Resolution – Finally, what happens next once the incident has been resolved? Depending on the size and scope of the incident, resolution may take days or weeks. During this time, resources need to continue working around the clock, ensuring that the systems are stable and back to total capacity as soon as possible.
How To Use Alerting To Improve Your Incident Management Process
Alerting is the ability to send notifications about changes in the status of services or other items. Alert messaging can be transmitted through email or text messages. These alerts allow users to see if there’s a change in their environment quickly. For example, you might want to know if an application is down or a new job is available. Alerting helps reduce downtime by providing early notification about potential issues before they occur. Alerts can be generated automatically based on certain conditions, like reaching a threshold value or exceeding a time limit. This approach allows you to stay ahead of any potential problems.
Let’s say that you’re using a monitoring solution to monitor many servers running different applications. The monitoring software will notify you if any of those servers’ CPU usage exceeds a specified threshold. If you decide that none of them exceeds that level, then there’s nothing else for you to watch out for – you’ve done everything you needed to do to manage your server fleet!
However, if you notice that some of them have exceeded the threshold, you’ll be able to focus on finding out which particular service caused the high load. You could also analyze the underlying cause by analyzing the event log output. In addition, you’ll be able to save yourself future troubleshooting costs by acting fast so that you don’t experience more extended downtimes.
Security monitoring is the practice of taking note of any unusual activity on your systems. Examples may include unauthorized logins, attempts to probe for vulnerabilities, scans by automated tools, and so forth.
Security monitoring is an integral part of any incident management process because it’s often the first thing that happens when someone finds a breach in your system. Since most security breaches occur internally, it’s imperative to have good internal monitoring practices.
Application monitoring is the practice of keeping track of all the website’s performance metrics or apps. It includes requests per second, response times, errors, and uptime. There are various ways to measure these metrics, but the overall goal is to ensure that your websites and apps perform optimally.
System monitoring is the practice of tracking the health of the whole operating system. It includes disk space utilization, memory consumption, file descriptors, processor utilization, network traffic, and much more. Again, several tools can help you keep tabs on your OS, but some of them are specifically designed to cater to sysadmins.
Database monitoring is the practice of reviewing critical statistics for each table within a database. It includes the number of rows inserted, updated, deleted, average row length, and total storage consumed. Other aspects that should be monitored include transaction logs and backup frequency.
Monitoring databases provides insights into how effective your data warehouse is, as well as information regarding its current state and its historical trends. Most database administrators will need to review this information periodically to ensure that the database is functioning correctly.
Network monitoring is the practice of looking at the performance of the IP networks associated with your organization. This monitoring includes measuring bandwidth usage, latency, and packet loss. As mentioned above, you should also monitor the security posture of your internal network.
You should also take stock of the performance of external networking links since these affect the performance of the rest of your network. External IP addresses, DNS records, and TCP connections to remote hosts are important network health indicators.
Email monitoring is the practice of performing fundamental analyses on emails sent through your organization’s email server. These include examining the sender and recipient lists, message headers, content analysis, and spam detection.
Email monitoring lets you check if anyone is sending malicious emails through your servers and gives you insight into receiving messages. You might find out that certain users are sending large emails while others are not. If you notice this pattern, you could investigate further to determine why.
So there we go! That’s our take on incident management and how you can use alerting to improve your company’s incident management process. Now it’s time to put it into action.