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Handbook for Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs)

In this 2003 handbook, the authors describe different organizational models for implementing incident handling capabilities.

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number
DOI (Digital Object Identifier)


This document provides guidance on forming and operating a computer security incident response team (CSIRT). In particular, it helps an organization to define and document the nature and scope of a computer security incident handling service, which is the core service of a CSIRT. The document explains the functions that make up the service; how those functions interrelate; and the tools, procedures, and roles necessary to implement the service. 

This document also describes how CSIRTs interact with other organizations and how to handle sensitive information. In addition, operational and technical issues are covered, such as equipment, security, and staffing considerations. This document is intended to provide a valuable resource to both newly forming teams and existing teams whose services, policies, and procedures are not clearly defined or documented. The primary audience for this document is managers who are responsible for the creation or operation of a CSIRT or an incident handling service. It can also be used as a reference for all CSIRT staff, higher level managers, and others who interact with a CSIRT.