Incident Response Policy

Updated 2/6/2017

View this policy as a printible PDF


The most effective and least costly way to defend a computer network from threats and attacks is to put in place defense mechanisms and develop solid response procedures before an attack occurs.  With a strong and swift response, the issue can be contained and fixed, thereby greatly increasing the survivability and security of the network.  In addition, these efforts should limit system downtime, work stoppage and maximize the ability of law enforcement to apprehend the perpetrators.

The purpose of this policy is to define the response of Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) to computer security incidents involving MMA information, systems, applications, hardware, staff members and students.


This policy applies to all MMA computer security incidents. A computer security incident is defined as any attempt, successful or unsuccessful, to disable, compromise, bypass, alter, or by any other means maliciously misuse MMA information, systems, applications, and hardware.


FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
FERPA – Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
HIPPA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
NCCIC – National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center


  • A computer security incident can be caused by a number of possible actions.  Examples of these include, but are not limited to:
    • Unauthorized access to data, especially confidential data (HIPAA, FERPA), personally identifiable information (PII) or credit card data;
    • Outbreak of malware, such as a worm, virus, Trojan Horse, ransomware or botnet;
    • Reconnaissance activities, such as scanning the network for security vulnerabilities;
    • Denial of Service (DoS) attack;
    • Website defacement or hacking;
    • Destructive data manipulation attack;
    • Interference of any type with IT operations;
    • Impersonation of a member of the Academy campus community through electronic and/ or social media, spoofing, or setting up any web presence that purports to be, or might reasonably be perceived to be, an official MMA website or social media group, page or account;
    • Exploit of a security weakness, such as an unpatched server vulnerability.
  • Staff members are required to report computer security incidents to either their manager or to the MMA Help Desk.  Students must report computer security incidents to their Company Officer or to the MMA Help Desk.
  • All reported computer security incidents must be responded to in a timely manner and handled appropriately, based on the severity of the incident. 
  • An incident report form must be completed and retained for each incident.  The form should be updated as the incident response progresses and contain details regarding the evidence found, the response steps taken and communication
  • In response to a security incident, the MMA IT team, in conjunction with additional staff members, will address the following:
    • Detection – Corroborate and define the incident.
    • Assessment – The incident’s severity should be classified (see chart below) based on available information to determine whether network communications require closure or aspects of the Disaster Recovery plan require implementation. 
    • Forensics - Data related to the incident shall be gathered and analyzed as it is vital to the investigation to have this information.  Any logs from affected devices should be kept to aid in the forensic analysis.
    • Containment – Measures shall be taken to separate the impacted system(s) from the rest of the Academy’s computing environment, if at all possible.
    • Recovery – System(s) shall be restored to normal operation as soon as possible, following the applicable procedures for system recovery.
    • Post-Mortem – An analysis of the incident, MMA’s response to the incident, and lessons learned must be reviewed as soon as the incident has been closed.  This includes a review of a post-incident report for any incidents classified with a severity of high.
  • An incident’s severity should be classified based on the chart below.  One or more conditions present in the Characteristics column will determine the severity level.  


Incident Severity Characteristics Response Time Incident Manager Who to Notify Post-Incident Report Required
High Significant adverse impact on a large number of systems, services and/or people      

Potential large financial risk or legal liability to the Academy

Threatens confidential or PII data

Significant and immediate threat to human safety

High probability of propagating to a large number of other systems and causing significant disruption

Immediate Chief Information Officer ​President      

All Vice Presidents

Public Safety Office

Media Relations

Department managers

MA State Police



Medium Adversely impacts a moderate number of systems, services and/or people      

Adversely impacts a non-critical enterprise system or service

Adversely impacts a departmental scale system or service

Disrupts a building or departmental network

Moderate risk of propagating and causing further disruption

Within 4 Hours Appointed by the Cheif Information Officer All Vice Presidents      

Department managers

No, unless requested by the Chief Information Officer or other appropriate administrator
Low Adversely impacts a  small number of non-critical individual systems, services, or people      

Disrupts a small number of network devices or segments

Little risk of propagation and further disruption

By end of next business day Technical support staff member Chief Information Officer      

Department managers

FA "False Alarm” - used for suspicious activities which upon further investigation are determined not to be a computer security incident.
  • Awareness of the requirement to report any suspected computer security incidents is a component of the required Information Security Awareness Training Program for staff. Such training shall be administered as part of the new hire on-boarding process, as well as on an annual basis.
  • Additional, role-specific training is administered to IT and other staff as merited by job responsibilities and access level.


Any employee found to have violated this policy, intentionally or unintentionally, may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, per any applicable collection bargaining agreements.


This policy is owned by the Vice President of Technology and Library Services (CIO), who will coordinate any and all revisions.

This policy will be added to the Academy’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and it will be posted on the Academy’s public website. 


Framework SANS Top 20 Controls Regulations and Requirements PCI DSS - MA 201 - HIPPA Supporting Standards and Procedures
CSC 18 PCI DSS 12.9  

Revision History

This section contains comments on any revisions that were made to this document and the date they were made.

Version Number Issued Date Changes Made By Description of Changes
1.0 1/12/2016 Compass ITC Initial Draft
2.0 5/9/2016 Anne Marie Fallon Added SANS framework and made additional edits.
2.1 7/8/2016 Anne Marie Fallon Added severity table.
2.2 8/10/2016 Anne Marie Fallon Continued to edit policy.
2.3 8/29/2016 Anne Marie Fallon Incorporated feedback from Tara McEnroe.
2.4 1/27/2017 Anne Marie Fallon Added EOP and Academy website as locations for publication of policy.