Understanding Incident Response Tools

An incident with respect to IT terminology happens to be a security breach. So, an incident response refers to an approach to an incident when it happens. Most organizations define an incident response plan or policy to handle incidents so that the damages can be limited to the minimum possible extent. It also helps to minimize the time and cost of recovery from the incident. Availability is one of the key factors that is used to measure the levels of service and downtime should be avoided at any cost.

Since incident response happens to be a very important aspect of ensuring business continuity and ensuring customer loyalty, tools that help in this are essential. They become a part of the organization’s incident response ammunition and help minimize the impact.

Understanding incident response

A lot of incident response is about understanding what it is, the possible causes, identifying the threats and risks and addressing them. One of the biggest steps in this happens to be awareness. It helps to know what causes security breaches, how, when and where. These can help formulate better incident response policies and also help in identifying the right incident response tools to be used.

There are commercial incident response tools as well as open source ones. In general, the points to keep in mind while evaluating the tools are:

  • Log Management and Analysis – Logs and their analysis form an irreplaceable part of incident response tools. It provides the much-needed information on what transpired.
  • Intrusion Detection Capabilities – These are important as they keep a track for known attack signatures and provide you alarms about suspicious activities and probable attacks. These can either be Server based or Network based, depending on the need of the organization.
  • Network Traffic Analyzers – This information is necessary for you to understand the complete network activity, the communication, the protocols used, the kind of traffic, from where it originates etc.
  • Monitoring Capabilities – A constantly monitoring application that keeps track of the complete service, and measures availability and helps you track and address the downtime is very important.
  • Vulnerability scanners – Vulnerability scanners when part of the static code analysis tools, help scan the code for potential vulnerabilities. In incident response tools, they help you identify potential areas of attack, so that you can plan out the remedial tasks.
  • Inclusion of Web Proxies – Web proxies can help with logging of HTTP based activities and also help control the access to the network.
  • Report Generation – To understand the complete activities with respect to the incidents.


The different options that can be considered are Swimlane, CyberSponse, Phantom, Resilient Systems, Doorman, OSSIM, Snort, Suricata, PMDump, NfDump, SCOT, FIR etc. The choice of the product is entirely dependent on the organization’s incident response needs and policy derived from. It is important to maintain an organizational database of incidents along with RCA to enable organizational awareness and also provide necessary training to employees.

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