CISA Launches Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks


The Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency Tuesday launched two playbooks for federal civilian agencies to use in planning and conducting cybersecurity vulnerability and incident response.

The 40-page Federal Government Cybersecurity Incident and Vulnerability Response Playbooks resulted from a directive in President Joe Biden’s May executive order on improving the nation’s cybersecurity. The order followed a series of high-profile breaches on federal systems and U.S. critical infrastructure.

According to CISA, the playbooks apply to information systems used by federal civilian agencies as well as contractors or other organizations on behalf of federal civilian agencies. In announcing the playbooks, CISA said federal civilian agencies “should use the playbooks to shape their overall defense cyber operations.” However, CISA encouraged critical infrastructure entities, state, local, territorial and tribal government organizations and private sector firms to “review them and benchmark their own vulnerability and incident response practices.”

“These playbooks provide [federal civilian] agencies with a standard set of procedures to identify, coordinate, remediate, recover, and track successful mitigations from incidents and vulnerabilities affecting [federal civilian] systems, data, and networks,” the document states.

The playbooks outline several standardized processes and procedures, including the facilitation of better coordination and response among affected organizations; enabling tracking of cross-organizational successful actions; allowing for cataloging of incidents to better manage future events and guide analysis and discovery.

“Agencies should use these playbooks to help shape overall defensive cyber operations to ensure consistent and effective response and coordinated communication of response activities,” CISA said.

The playbooks also address response activities initiated by federal civilian agencies—such as a detection of suspected malicious activity or vulnerability—as well as those initiated by CISA or other third parties, including intelligence agencies, law enforcement or commercial organizations and contractors.

The playbooks do not, however, cover response activities that involve threats to classified data or national security systems.