CISO Guide Australia – Post Incident Review Practices

The cybersecurity landscape is rapidly evolving, and with it, the role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in Australia. A robust post-incident review (PIR) process has become increasingly vital for organisations looking to bolster their defence against cyber threats. This comprehensive guide aims to provide CISOs and cybersecurity professionals with an understanding of the practices necessary for an effective PIR.


Post-incident reviews are critical components in the cybersecurity incident response protocol. They go beyond simple damage control to offer an opportunity for reflection, learning, and systemic improvement. In the aftermath of a security breach or cyber incident, conducting a thorough PIR can be the difference between falling victim to repeated attacks and building a resilient digital fortress.

Understanding Post-Incident Review

A PIR is a meticulous process carried out after a cybersecurity event to evaluate what happened and why, how it was handled, and what can be done better in the future. The key components of a PIR include:

  • Incident categorisation
  • Timeline reconstruction
  • Detection and response analysis
  • Outcome evaluation

The ultimate goals of a PIR are to understand the incident’s causation, measure the effectiveness of the incident response, and to develop improvements for future security measures.

The Role of a CISO in Post-Incident Reviews

For a CISO, the post-incident review is not just about oversight but about leadership and foresight in strengthening the organisation’s cybersecurity posture. A CISO must ensure that the PIR process is thorough, unbiased, and action-oriented. The CISO’s responsibilities in this regard include:

  • Facilitating Communication: Ensuring that all stakeholders communicate effectively throughout the review process.
  • Setting the Scope of the Review: Defining what needs to be assessed to prevent scope creep.
  • Encouraging a Blame-Free Culture: Promoting a learning culture where the focus is on understanding issues instead of assigning blame.
  • Identifying Root Causes: Leading the team in a methodical analysis to uncover the fundamental reasons behind the incident.
  • Integrating Lessons Learned: Overseeing the implementation of changes based on PIR findings to enhance security measures.

By steering the post-incident review process with a strategic mindset, CISOs can turn a cybersecurity incident into an opportunity for growth and improvement.

Benefits of Post-Incident Reviews

Learning from past incidents is one of the primary benefits of conducting post-incident reviews. It turns every cyber-attack into a lesson and a stepping stone towards fortifying cybersecurity measures.

By identifying vulnerabilities and gaps in current security infrastructures, CISOs can prioritise areas that need immediate attention and resource allocation.

Furthermore, by improving response and mitigation strategies, organisations can shorten their recovery time and minimise the impact of future incidents on their operations.

Another significant advantage of post-incident reviews is the enhancement of organisational preparedness. These reviews act as rehearsals for responding to real-world cybersecurity threats, allowing teams to refine their coordination and reaction tactics under less pressure. This proactive approach can lead to the development of a robust incident response plan that is better equipped to handle emergencies.

Moreover, post-incident reviews contribute to a culture of continuous improvement. As teams regularly engage in this practice, they become more adept at critical thinking and problem-solving, which are essential skills in the fast-evolving landscape of cybersecurity.

By conducting these reviews, organisations also display their commitment to transparency and accountability. Such openness can bolster confidence among stakeholders, including customers, partners, and employees, by demonstrating a serious stance on cybersecurity and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Best Practices for Conducting Post-Incident Reviews

To ensure the effectiveness of a post-incident review, CISOs should incorporate several best practices:

  • Establish a standardised review process that begins immediately after an incident is contained.
  • Collect and analyse all relevant data to reconstruct the incident accurately.
  • Encourage involvement from key stakeholders across departments; this should include technical teams, management, and even external partners if necessary.
  • Document findings thoroughly and develop actionable recommendations to prevent repeat incidents.

Challenges and Considerations

Overcoming resistance to change can be difficult, especially when strategies and policies need modification. Encouraging a culture of adaptability and learning is essential.

Addressing legal and compliance issues also plays a significant role, as reviews often involve sensitive data and the organisation’s regulatory obligations.

Lastly, ensuring collaboration and accountability among different teams and units within the organisation is instrumental in executing changes identified in the PIR process.

Evolving technology and sophisticated cyber threats necessitate agile responses, and the post-incident review (PIR) process must reflect this dynamism. Integrating new technologies into the PIR process can promote greater efficiency and more robust security postures. For example, using machine learning for data analysis can reveal patterns that might escape manual reviews, providing deeper insights into vulnerabilities and attack vectors. 

Furthermore, establishing a continuous improvement protocol enables organisations to seamlessly update their security measures. This should be embedded within the PIR to track the implementation of recommendations and measure the effectiveness of changes over time.

Understanding the human factor in cybersecurity incidents is also critical. Training sessions based on review findings can raise awareness and prepare staff to better handle future incidents. It is about creating a proactive, security-minded culture, which can significantly reduce the risk of breaches and their impact on the organisation.


For CISOs and cybersecurity professionals in Australia, post-incident reviews are not just about compliance; they’re a cornerstone in strengthening cybersecurity resilience. By embracing these practices and realising the valuable insights they offer, organisations can thrive in an increasingly digital world.

For those who seek additional support or lack the in-house expertise, Siege Cyber’s Virtual CISO (vCISO) service offers experienced leadership to navigate this complex landscape, ensuring CISO Best Practices and Cybersecurity Incident Review strategies are not just understood but effectively implemented. 

Bear in mind, each incident shapes the future of cybersecurity within your organisation. Let’s ensure it moulds a secure, resilient framework that stands the test of time and cyber adversity.