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Effective Incident Response Team, The

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Effective Incident Response Team, The


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  • Copyright 2004
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-76175-0
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-76175-7

When an intruder, worm, virus, or automated attack succeeds in targeting a computer system, having specific controls and a response plan in place can greatly lessen losses. Accordingly, businesses are realizing that it is unwise to invest resources in preventing computer-related security incidents without equal consideration of how to detect and respond to such attacks and breaches.

The Effective Incident Response Team is the first complete guide to forming and managing a Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT). In this book, system and network administrators and managers will find comprehensive information on establishing a CIRT's focus and scope, complete with organizational and workflow strategies for maximizing available technical resources. The text is also a valuable resource for working teams, thanks to its many examples of day-to-day team operations, communications, forms, and legal references.

IT administrators and managers must be prepared for attacks on any platform, exploiting any vulnerability, at any time. The Effective Incident Response Team will guide readers through the critical decisions involved in forming a CIRT and serve as a valuable resource as the team evolves to meet the demands of ever-changing vulnerabilities.

Inside, readers will find information on:

  • Formulating reactive or preventative operational strategy
  • Forming, training, and marketing the CIRT
  • Selecting penetration-testing, intrusion-detection, network-monitoring, and forensics tools
  • Recognizing and responding to computer incidents and attacks, including unauthorized access, denial-of-service attacks, port scans, and viruses
  • Tracking, storing, and counting incident reports and assessing the cost of an incident
  • Working with law enforcement and the legal community
  • Benefiting from shared resources
  • Scrutinizing closed incidents to further prevention
  • Offering services such as user-awareness training, vulnerability and risk assessments, penetration testing, and architectural reviews
  • Communicating the CIRT's return on investment through management reporting


Sample Content

Online Sample Chapters

Effective Incident Response: The Puzzle in Action

Forming an Effective Incident Response Team: What's Your Mission?

Downloadable Sample Chapter

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Table of Contents



1. Welcome to the Information Age.

A Brief History.


More Teams.


What Does This Mean to My Organization?

Examples of Incident Response Teams.

Some Statistics.


2. What's Your Mission?

Focus and Scope.

Know Who You're Protecting: Defining Your Constituency.

Defining Response.

Working with Law Enforcement.


Operational Strategy.

Defining an Incident.

Tracking an Incident.

Counting Incidents.

Services Offered.

The Importance of Credibility.


3. The Terminology Piece.

What Is a Computer Incident?

Operational Versus Security Incidents.

Determining the Categories to Be Used.

An Incident Taxonomy.

Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) Project.


4. Computer Attacks.

Consequences of Computer Attacks.

Computer Intrusion, Unauthorized Access, or Compromise.

Denial-of-Service Attacks.

Port Scans or Probes.

Attack Vectors.

The Human Factor.

TCP/IP Design Limitations.

Coding Oversight.

Malicious Logic.

The Computer Virus.

Virus Types.

Important Steps to Remain Virus-Free.

Other Forms of Malicious Logic.

Virus Hoaxes and Urban Legends.


5. Forming the Puzzle.

Putting the Team Together.

Coverage Options.

Determining the Best Coverage.

Team Roles.

Team Skills.

Promotions and Growth.

Interviewing Candidates.


Products and Tools.

Penetration Testing Tools.

Intrusion Detection Systems.

Network Monitors and Protocol Analyzers.

Forensics Tools.

Other Tools.

Funding the Team.

Marketing Campaign.

Risk Assessment.

Business Case.

Placement of the Team.

Worst-Case Scenarios.



Constituency Training.

Marketing the Team.

Dealing with the Media.


6. Teamwork.

External Team Members.

Internal Teamwork.

Selecting Team Members.

Retention and Cohesiveness.


7. Selecting the Products and Tools.

Training as a Tool.

Sound Security Practices.

The Tools of the Trade.

Using the Tools.


8. The Puzzle in Action.

The Life Cycle of an Incident.

Step One: Preparation (Preparing for Compromise).

Step Two: Incident Identification.

Step Three: Notification.

Step Four: Incident Analysis.

Step Five: Remediation.

Step Six: System Restoration.

Step Seven: Lessons Learned.

Sample Incidents.

Incident Reporting.


Tracking Incidents.

Keeping Current.

Writing Computer Security Advisories.


9. What Did That Incident Cost?

Statistics and Cases.

CSI/FBI Survey Results.

Some Example Cases.

Forms of Economic Impact.

Costs Associated with Time Frames.

Tangible Versus Intangible Costs.

An Incident Cost Model.


10. The Legal Eagles.

Working with the Legal Community.

The Need for Legal Assistance.

Establishing Contacts.

Laws Pertaining to Computer Crime.

NeededNCase Law.

Reporting Computer Crime.


11. Computer Forensics: An Evolving Discipline.

The World of Forensics.

What Is Forensics?

The Forensics Investigation.

Overview and Importance of Computer Forensics.

Computer Forensics Challenges.

Computer Evidence.




12. Conclusions.

Appendix A: Sample Incident Report Form.

Appendix B: Federal Code Related to Cyber Crime.

18 U.S.C. 1029. Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Access Devices.

18 U.S.C. 1030. Fraud and Related Activity in Connection with Computers: As amended October 11, 1996.

18 U.S.C. 1362. Communication Lines, Stations, or Systems.

Appendix C: Sample Frequently Asked Questions.

Appendix D: Domain Name Extensions Used for Internet Addresses.

Appendix E: Well-Known Port Numbers.





Untitled Document

Computer security incidents and incident response are like fires and fire fighting.

Fires and computer security incidents can both be destructive and costly.

Small fires that are not effectively contained can turn into large fires that are more destructive and harder to control. Small computer security incidents that are not contained quickly or effectively can turn into large incidents that are more damaging and harder to contain.

Because fires and computer security incidents can be destructive and costly, we put effort into finding ways to prevent them in the first place. Think of the fire safety instruction that you probably received when you were in elementary school or when you read product usage warnings-don't play with matches, don't use candles near curtains, be careful with space heaters. Products such as children's sleepwear, consumer electronics, and construction materials are tested for fire safety.We develop (and enforce) building codes and other standards to help ensure that fires don't break out often.We do similar things to prevent computer security incidents.We create policies, develop procedures, conduct computer security awareness training, create checklists for locking down various sorts of computers and the services that run on them, install firewalls, use virtual private networks, and conduct audits.

Despite our best efforts at prevention, however, fires sometimes still break out.We have fire alarm systems to detect and warn us about these events so that we can respond to them quickly. Similarly, we design and deploy host- and network-based intrusion detection systems to detect attacks against our own computers and successful intrusions on the same.

Because fires are dangerous and we cannot completely prevent them, we devote significant resources to establishing community fire departments that respond to the fires that do occur. These groups develop procedures for effectively containing fires of various types and train people to implement those procedures in a variety of circumstances so that they can effectively handle the fires that crop up, which are unpredictable in time, type, and severity. Likewise, in the computer security world, we establish groups to handle the computer security incidents that slip past our defenses. These teams create procedures and undergo training so that they can effectively contain the incidents that crop up, which are unpredictable in the same ways that fires are.

It would be foolish to invest all of our resources in fire prevention to the exclusion of effective fire fighting or to invest in fire fighting without paying due attention to fire prevention. It is good to prevent fires, but we probably can't afford to do what would be needed to absolutely prevent them, so they will sometimes occur and we will need to respond. It would also be foolish to invest all of our "computer security" resources in incident prevention to the exclusion of effective incident response, or in incident response without attempting to prevent incidents in the first place.

These days, computer security incident response teams are involved in more than "traditional" computer intrusions. Because computers are ubiquitous in the business world, digital evidence is likely to come into play in many situations that are not directly related to computer security, such as investigations of employee misconduct, criminal activity, and research fraud. Incident response team members often become involved in computer-related investigations because they have a pool of expertise in discovering, preserving, and interpreting digital evidence. This possibility provides another good reason for forming (or improving) your incident response team.

This book focuses on forming teams to provide effective incident response. Julie and Brian approach the task as if it were a puzzle. They introduce and describe the pieces and then discuss how you put them together. Both authors have considerable experience in the computer security incident response field, and they know the questions that you will need to ask and answer as you design your own team and procedures.

Some groups may choose not to create a "formal" incident response team or may choose to outsource their incident response procedures.

Although the thrust of this book is on forming your own team, it nevertheless provides a helpful framework within which to evaluate and explore these alternatives.

Have fun assembling the puzzle!

-Steve Romig


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