Incident triage is an essential process for any company to identify, prioritise and respond to incident-related tasks. It builds a strong base for incident management, incident resolution and incident prevention for organisations. Incident triage focuses on efficiently and effectively assessing all incident reports, determining their severity and urgency and assigning appropriate resources to them. It is also used to decide which incident should be investigated further or resolved quickly depending on the impact it has on the organisation. This is especially helpful when working in a risky industry. In the 2021-2022 financial year, Australian businesses reported about 500,000 injuries or illnesses, further emphasising the need for effective incident triage.

How does incident triage work?

The incident triage process begins by gathering all relevant information about an incident including its source, description, status, location etc. This information can be gathered manually or through automated systems; for example we monitor our servers for outages, attempts at intrusion, and so on. After collecting this data, a qualified individual must then assess the incident and assign it a priority level based on its severity and urgency.

Depending on the organisation’s incident management protocol, this person might have to consult with other staff members or stakeholders to determine what action should be taken next. If necessary, they might contact additional personnel or external parties if they require further help or resources to resolve the incident more quickly. Once the incident has been assessed and prioritised according to its criticality level, appropriate resources can then be assigned accordingly in order for it to be promptly addressed and ultimately resolved.

To ensure that incident triage is effective within a company there must be clear processes in place for all staff involved in reporting incidents as well as for those responsible for responding to them. Additionally, automation can help with a lot of the tedious work associated with incident triage freeing up valuable time from staff who can use it elsewhere more productively.

One way businesses can use automation for faster incident response times is by leveraging machine learning technology to automate identification and classification of incidents. Machine learning algorithms are able to analyse high volumes of data from various sources including logs and user input in order to detect patterns that may indicate potential issues or risks related to an incident report.

This allows companies to automatically classify incoming reports so they know what type it is before assigning resources accordingly thus reducing response time significantly compared with traditional methods relying on human judgement alone. Additionally, using machine learning technology enables organisations to continuously monitor their environment for potential threats or vulnerabilities which further enhances the speed at which they are able to address any issues that arise.

Benefits of incident triage

The primary benefit of incident triage is that it allows incident-related tasks to be prioritised and resolved in the right order. By having a system in place to assess incidents, organisations can more easily determine the severity and urgency of each incident and assign the appropriate staff to address them. This allows incident-related problems to be addressed promptly while also minimising risks due to delayed responses or issues that have to be tended to. Additionally, incident triage can also help identify underlying problems that may be causing multiple incident reports which can then be addressed with proactive solutions rather than reactive ones.

Another major benefit of incident triage is that it helps improve communication between all staff members involved in incident resolution. Having clear processes for how incident reports should be reported and handled ensures that everyone knows what their role is in the process. This helps streamline communication between the various stakeholders involved while also allowing teams to coordinate better on incident resolution efforts. Using software like Polonious can further enhance communication since it frees up staff from manual reporting duties so they can focus on resolving incidents more effectively instead. Everything can be accessed from one place and information can be found easily online anywhere, anytime.

Having an established procedure for responding quickly helps minimise potential risks while also increasing overall customer satisfaction since incidents are addressed faster rather than having them linger unresolved due to inefficient processes or lack of resources needed to address them properly.

What does incident triage involve?

The first step in incident triage is the identification of potential problems or incidents. This involves identifying all processes, tasks, systems, applications, and networks within an organisation’s environment that are critical to the success of its operations. Any anomalies associated with these components must be identified and evaluated for severity and impact on operations. Additionally, all threats should be assessed to determine their value relative to the organisation’s risk tolerance level. Once identified, the next step is to assign priority levels based on severity so that any high-priority issues can be addressed first.

In addition to identifying potential problems or risks within an organisation’s system environment, incident triage assesses the potential impacts of these incidents on operational performance and customer experience. Potential risks related to data loss or security breaches need to be evaluated for appropriate action plans to be created to mitigate these risks effectively. Organisations must also account for any external dependencies that may be affected by an incident so that steps can be taken to minimise their disruption from the event. Finally, incident triage should also consider how long-term recovery efforts will need to occur in order to ensure operations return back to normal levels as soon as possible following an incident.

A common thread among the various triage processes we have built into different workflows for our customers is an initial assessment of whether the case is a false positive or below the threshold for requiring a response. If the case is a false positive (or ‘false alarm’) or does not merit investigation, then the case can be immediately closed to reduce workload. There is usually a proportion of cases that can be closed this way, even when playing it safe with risk appetite.

Then the organisation will work through this shorter list of cases, assess them in more detail, and assign a priority and/or complexity. In some places, depending on context and requirements, this priority assessment will also involve specifying any additional factors that need to be taken into account – e.g. that the risk or incident was identified by a whistleblower and needs additional confidentiality, or that there is media attention, or other factors.

Challenges to take into consideration

A potential problem is that staff members may not be adequately trained in incident triage protocols, leaving them unable to properly assess incoming incidents or prioritise them effectively. This could lead to incidents receiving subpar response times which can result in further issues later on down the line. Those handling the triage process may also not have sufficient knowledge regarding various technologies used by a business and this could result in misdiagnosis of issues; wasting valuable time and resources.

Risk factors such as malicious actors attempting to exploit vulnerabilities within systems must also be taken into consideration when performing incident triage. Hackers often attempt to disable key aspects of a company’s IT infrastructure so it is important for those assessing incoming reports to pay careful attention for any signs of malicious activity or manipulation attempts during the incident assessment stage so that these malicious actors can be appropriately dealt with before too much damage is done.

Choosing the right investigator

Once the incident triage has been created and risks have been analysed and understood, it is time to find the right investigator for the incident. When choosing an investigator to carry out an incident triage in a business, it is important to consider several factors. First and foremost, the investigator should have a strong background and experience in investigating incidents of a similar nature. This includes knowledge of the relevant laws, regulations, and industry best practices.

In addition, the investigator should possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as incidents can be complex and require careful analysis and interpretation of evidence. The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and in simple language, both verbally and in writing, is also essential, as the investigator may need to provide regular updates to key stakeholders throughout the investigation process.

The chosen investigator should also be impartial and objective, with the ability to remain calm and collected under pressure. They should be able to interview witnesses and gather evidence meticulously without bias or prejudice, with a focus on facts and empirical data.

Other important qualities to consider when selecting an investigator include attention to detail, integrity, and a strong work ethic. The investigator should also be able to work well under pressure, as incidents can often be high-stress situations that require quick thinking and rapid action.

When conducting a search for a qualified investigator, it may be helpful to ask for referrals from other businesses or individuals who have previously worked with investigators. It may also be useful to conduct interviews and request references from potential candidates in order to assess their qualifications, experience, and overall suitability for the role.

Choosing the right investigator to carry out an incident triage in a business can make all the difference in successfully resolving incidents and safeguarding the organisation from future risks and liabilities. By carefully considering the above factors and selecting an experienced and capable investigator, businesses can ensure that they are well-prepared to handle any incidents that may arise.

Keep in mind

Identifying potential problems and risks with incident triage in a business is a critical responsibility for any organisation. Incident triage involves the identification of potential problems or issues that arise within an organisation, as well as their assessment for severity and impact. The goal of incident triage is to identify and mitigate threats or risks quickly and efficiently, while minimising further disruption.

At Polonious we help our clients with their incident reporting and investigations by providing them with a system that can increase their productivity and improve their results. Polonious can be integrated with almost any software to make data collection easier and allow investigators to take more effective and detailed notes. All the incidents can be prioritised and colour coded according to their ranking. Businesses do not have to worry about the wrong person accessing their information as only the people assigned can view updates and relevant case data. Do you want to learn more? Request a demo!