We recently had a CISO change, and in the process of doing an initial ops review and looking at organizational structure, one of the questions the new CISO has is about the viability of offshoring incident response... I would be very interested in your views on this matter, and would appreciate any feedback you can offer.
As background, I've been involved in incident response in many different capacities: top-level military CERT, managed security services provider, fly-away consultant, government contractor, independent consultant, and top-level corporate CIRT. In other words, I've worked in insourced and outsourced environments.
I strongly advocate insourced or internal, professional incident response teams. Many technical people fixate on the technical aspects of security, as you might expect. While technical expertise is critical, it is also critical to understand the client. Depending on the size and complexity of the client, it can take an external team weeks or months to acquire the necessary understanding of the client to make a real difference. Sure, an external team can probably perform great analysis if given the right details and context. However, doing something about usually relies heavily on identifying and overcoming the various bureaucratic, cultural, financial, legal, and political challenges found in any suitable large organization. Therefore, I believe internal CIRTs are necessary for all organizations larger than a few hundred employees.
I believe it is appropriate and sometimes necessary to rely on outsourced incident response services when your organization meets one or more of these criteria during an incident.
- Your CIRT is nonexistent.
- Your CIRT is not staffed with enough people to meet the challenge at hand.
- Your CIRT is not technically equipped to meet the challenge at hand.
- Your CIRT needs help with a specific aspect of the challenge at hand.
- Your CIRT needs external assistance due to regulatory, compliance, or other legal issues.
Furthermore, when I read the term "offshoring" I get the sense that the question may involve hiring contractors who work for the organization permanently but report to their home contracting organization. In my experience any "cost savings" in such an arrangement are a figment of the accounting imagination. I recommend full-time employees be CIRT members.
Any thoughts from blog readers?