August 14, 2023 by Ryan Clancy

4 Cybersecurity Incident Scenarios You Should Exercise and Test

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Industries: 9-1-1 & Law Enforcement Fire & EMS

Topics: Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity incidents can have far-reaching consequences, from financial losses to reputation damage. To proactively address these threats, organizations should conduct regular cybersecurity incident scenario exercises and tests. IT and security departments can conduct multiple tests to evaluate technology in preparation for a potential disaster or cybersecurity incident. By playing out different scenarios, you can see how applications, systems, devices and interfaces will respond in the event of an outage or attack. Business continuity, emergency management or disaster recovery planning tests enable you to spotlight weaknesses in backup processes and failover procedures when systems go offline and critical data is unavailable.

But what about testing your people? For example, how would your IT or security team respond to a ransomware attack or a TDoS attack, especially now that many employees are working remotely?

In this blog, we’ll discuss four essential cybersecurity incident scenarios you can use to make sure your team is prepared . 

How Cyber Exercises Improve IR Plans

The reality is that security team preparedness – or lack of it – is often more of a problem than technology. Operational exercises are an ideal way to prepare your people for real-world attack scenarios and introduce controlled risks through live play.

Conducting hands-on cyber exercises can improve your incident response plans by:

  • Clearly identifying roles and responsibilities;
  • Clarifying decision-making responsibilities;
  • Ensuring a solid understanding of protocols and requirements; and
  • Building the capacity to successfully respond to and recover from a significant cyber event.

Four Scenarios for Training Your Security Team

Here are four scenarios you should train for and be ready to respond to in the event of a cybersecurity incident:

  1. Phishing Attack Simulations: The frequency of phishing emails and overall business email compromise (BEC) have gained momentum, especially as ransomware attacks continue to  rise. Ransomware is present in more than 62 percent of all incidents committed by organized crime actors, according to a recent report. Educating employees to practice due diligence and how to spot malicious emails and links is the first step. Conducting faux phishing exercises can be a valuable teaching tool. By sending a series of well-crafted simulated phishing emails to employees, you can monitor how many click on malicious links or provide sensitive information. Based on the results, you can then provide more targeted training and awareness programs
  2. Malicious Attachments and Malware: It’s just as important for your security team to know when malicious attachments and malware, especially ransomware, make their way onto the network as it is to avoid opening them. If malicious attachments make it through your filters and into your employee’s inboxes, or they visit websites infected with ransomware, you need a plan in place – one that has been practiced – to be able to respond quickly and limit the damage.
  3. Password Requests and Other Suspicious Requests: Cybercriminals often use social engineering techniques to get access to systems and information. They can pose as employees, contractors or third-party vendors to bait employees into divulging sensitive passwords and other access controls. Your security personnel should be trained on how to respond. You can test your incident response teams and employees by running exercises to simulate password requests from familiar sources, such as the help desk or even executives, who are often spoofed.
  4. Unauthorized Users and Devices: Computers and devices that haven’t gone through proper authentication processes before joining your corporate network or cloud accounts are perfect targets for attackers. Can your response teams not only identify attempts to connect to your network but block them? Have you tested how quickly they can do this? If you’re using cloud applications and infrastructure, are you monitoring access to environments like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google or Office 365? Even if your organization is “just experimenting” with cloud platforms and services, you can be at risk for breaches and misuse if they’re not properly configured for optimal security, or if someone with authorized access sets up rogue accounts or operations on them.


These are just a few of the cyber incident scenarios you can use to test your incident response team’s readiness for a cyber incident. Practicing these on a regular basis can help your team be better prepared and identify any weaknesses before you’re in the midst of a crisis, saving you time, money and peace of mind. These exercises not only empower employees with the knowledge to recognize and respond to threats but also ensure that organizations are well-equipped to mitigate the potential damage of real-world incidents. As cyber threats continue to evolve, proactive preparation through scenario testing remains a critical component of any comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

Download our solution brief to learn more about cyber exercises

Motorola Solutions offers a wide range of Advisory Services, including Cyber Exercises, to help organizations prepare for and prevent cyber attacks. Contact us for more information.

Do you need expert assistance with incident response planning or conducting cybersecurity exercises? 

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