How to Build an Incident
Response Team You
Can Depend On

Posted on September 27, 2019

If your network hasn’t had a cybersecurity threat yet, it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes. If you’ve had one (or more), you know how a cyber incident can cause complete and utter chaos.    According to the Cisco/Cybersecurity Ventures 2019 Cybersecurity Almanac, cyber attacks are the fastest growing crime globally, and they are increasing in size, sophistication and cost.   An incident response team is responsible for analyzing security breaches and taking reactive measures to minimize risk and damage.    Putting together a solid incident response team takes careful consideration and planning – after all, the safety of your business depends on it. In this blog, we’ll teach you how to build a successful incident response team to keep threats at bay.  

What Does an Incident Response Plan Consist Of?

  An incident response plan can help you prepare for all types of events and mitigate risk. Without establishing frameworks, procedures and roles, chaos can ensue in an emergency.    Time is of the essence when dealing with a cyberattack. As the old saying goes: fail to plan, plan to fail.    According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), establishing an incident response capability should include the following actions:    

  • Create an incident response policy and plan  
  • Develop procedures for performing incident handling and reporting  
  • Set guidelines for communicating with outside parties regarding incidents  
  • Select a team structure and staffing model  
  • Establish relationships and lines of communication between the incident response team and other groups, both internal (e.g., legal department) and external (e.g., law enforcement agencies)  
  • Determine what services the incident response team should provide 
  • Staff and train the incident response team

  Whew – that sounds exhausting. It takes a dedicated group of educated IT professionals to put together an emergency plan for the best chances of success.   

What Does an Incident Response Team Do?

  An incident response team is the first line of defense against cyberattacks in an organization. They are the first responders when an attack occurs, analyzing security breaches and taking reactive measures to minimize risk and damage. If a data breach, network virus, system shutdown or other catastrophic IT event hits your business, they mobilize to stop the threat and get you operational — fast.    Additionally, response teams stay on top of current trends and continually update and implement new procedures. Communicating with management and other stakeholders keeps everyone informed on changes to the plan and what to expect should a crisis occur.  

Incident Response Team Roles & Responsibilities

  Building a solid incident response team requires careful consideration, planning and resources.    A strong IR team is composed of several different kinds of employees so that cross-functional support is achieved before, during and after a cyberattack. In other words, cyberattacks aren’t “just an IT problem.”   In general, members of the team should have developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills in addition to the technical capabilities required for their role. General skills that are helpful in emergency response situations include programming, network administration, system administration and technical support.   In an ideal situation, your incident response team should include the following roles:  

  • Team Manager: Team managers should be technically savvy and have excellent communication skills, since they interact with various roles and organization levels. They are responsible for overseeing the work and ensuring that procedures are performed properly during a crisis.
  • Technical Lead: The technical lead possesses strong technical skills and incident response experience. They assume final responsibility for the quality of the team’s work.
  • Incident Lead: The incident lead coordinates activities, gathers information from other team members and ensures team members have the tools they need.
  • HR/Legal Representative: Should an attack involve a company employee, these representatives provide legal recommendations and take appropriate action steps.
  • Communications Lead: The communications lead provides incident updates to other groups, stockholders, social media and the press as needed.


Internal Vs. Outsourced Incident Response Teams 

Now, we know what you’re thinking – hiring a team that covers all of the above roles is pretty unattainable for the average business. And finding employees with the necessary expertise, availability and temperament to deal with emergencies isn’t exactly easy.    But there is another solution. Hiring a managed IT company to provide outsourced incident response services often comes at a fraction of the cost of hiring, training and maintaining a full in-house team.    Here are some at-a-glance comparisons between internal and external IR teams:   24/7/365 Service:

  • In House: No one wants to work the graveyard shift! You must employ knowledgeable, full-time employees to be available 24/7, plus replacements.
  • Outsourced: Outsourced staff specialize in emergency procedures and have multiple team members to cover shifts. 

  Technical Expertise:

  • In House: Team members must be continually trained to stay up-to-date on technology & procedures.
  • Outsourced: External teams invest heavily in education and have deeper knowledge of intrusion detection, forensics and system vulnerabilities.


  • In House: Internal staff can find necessary tools, but the learning curve can be steep and time-consuming in addition to regular IT duties.
  • Outsourced: Outsourced IR teams have invested in sophisticated tools (like digital forensics software), saving your company money and time by knowing which ones work best.

  Morale/Stress on Staff:

  • In House: You must select team members who can handle emergencies calmly to avoid burnout.
  • Outsourced: Team members have been chosen precisely for the ability to perform under pressure. Larger staff rotation eliminates burnout.

  Creating an Incident Response Plan (IRP):

  • In House: Staff members who aren’t experienced with creating an IRP may take much longer to design and implement one.
  • Outsourced: Incident response experts know what to do without “recreating the wheel” every time. They know what works and what doesn’t.


  • In House: Having a fully-staffed internal team may be prohibitively expensive for smaller organizations.
  • Outsourced: Outsourcing some or all of your IRT can save money, time and stress for existing IT staff.


Hire an Incident Response Team You Can Count On

A byte of prevention is worth a terabyte of cure. While cyberattacks cannot be eliminated entirely, preventive activities can reduce the number of cyber security incidents you face.    You need an incident response team to detect incidents quickly, minimize loss, and restore your IT capabilities. Luckily, the burden of creating and maintaining such a team does not have to fall squarely on your shoulders.   With our help, you can protect your valuable business assets and data. SugarShot’s incident response and business continuity services include:

  • Emergency on-site help
  • Replacement IT services
  • System restoration
  • Backup recovery
  • Data loss recovery
  • Hacking prevention & response
  • Detection Monitoring
  • Process improvement

  Want to learn more about how our incident response services can help put your mind at ease? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation conversation. 

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