Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What do you need as a responder?

Many times when working with customers or talking with folks who interface with incident responders (or are incident responders), the topic of what information is pertinent to a responder comes up. When receiving calls from customers, many times the people who make the call and interface with the consultants are not themselves responders (or in some cases, even technical people), and instead represent their company from a business or legal/compliance perspective. This can often lead to misunderstandings due to differing perspectives, which ultimately leads to a lack of (accurate) information. However, this isn't restricted only to non-technical people...sometimes having the sysadmins on the call can lead to the same sort of thing, which is, again, largely due to perspective.

So...what do responders need to know when you call, or what information do your responders need access to?

Well, the first thing that an incident responder is going to need to know is your goals, or what you hope to achieve from the response activities.

In an ideal world, there are four basic sources of technical data that responders will be looking traffic captures, network device log data (ie, firewalls, routers w/ ACLs, etc.), and host-based volatile (memory) and non-volatile (system image) data. There may be instances when all of this information is available, and there may be times when portions of this data is available...however, in many cases, for those unprepared for an incident, very little if any of this is available to a responder. The amount of information available to the responder is going to play a direct role in how completely the responder is going to be able to help you achieve your goals.

I once received a call from someone who needed help with a laptop. Apparently, the laptop had been infected with malware, and the immediate response was to take the laptop off of the network, wipe the hard drive, and install an updated version of the operating system. The caller wanted to know if I could tell them what the malware was, and what (if any) data had been taken. Seriously.

Some questions you're likely to be asked when you call someone to perform incident response include (but are not limited to):

- What type of incident are you experiencing? How would you characterize the incident?
- Do any of the affected systems contain "sensitive data" (per PCI, HIPAA, etc.)?
- How many systems are involved? What are their status? What are their hard drive types, configurations, and capacities (SAN/NAS, RAID 5 with a total of 100GB, mirrored, single 1TB drive, boot-from-SAN)?
- What actions have you taken already (and be honest...running an AV scan and deleting files isn't "nothing")?
- What data have you already collected, if any?
- Do you have a logical network diagram, particularly of the affected systems?

Lots of you have the answers?

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