Preparation, detection, and analysis: the diagnostic work of IT security incident response

Rodrigo Werlinger ; Kasia Muldner ; Kirstie Hawkey ; Konstantin Beznosov

22 November 2009

Abstract: Purpose — The purpose of this study is to examine security incident response practices of IT security practitioners as a diagnostic work process, including the preparation phase, detection, and analysis of anomalies. Design/methodology/approach — The data set consisted of 16 semi-structured interviews with IT security practitioners from 7 organizational types (e.g., academic, government, private). The interviews were analyzed using qualitative description with constant comparison and inductive analysis of the data to analyze diagnostic work during security incident response. Findings — Our analysis shows that security incident response is a highly collaborative activity, which may involve practitioners developing their own tools to perform specific tasks. Our results also show that diagnosis during incident response is complicated by practitioners’ need to rely on tacit knowledge, as well as usability issues with security tools. Research limitations/implications — Due to the nature of semi-structured interviews, not all participants discussed security incident response at the same level of detail. More data are required to generalize and refine our findings. Originality/value — The contribution of our work is twofold. First, using empirical data, we analyze and describe the tasks, skills, strategies, and tools that security practitioners use to diagnose security incidents. Our findings enhance the research community’s understanding of the diagnostic work during security incident response. Second, we identify opportunities for future research directions related to improving security tools.

Keyword(s): HOT Admin ; Diagnosis ; Security Incident Response ; Qualitative Analysis ; Collaboration ; Tool Usability

Published in: Rodrigo Werlinger, Kasia Muldner, Kirstie Hawkey, and Konstantin Beznosov. Preparation, detection, and analysis: the diagnostic work of IT security incident response. Journal of Information Management & Computer Security, 18(1):26-42, January 2010. :

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Refereed Journal Papers

 Record created 2009-11-22, last modified 2013-05-22

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