The digital world comes with advantages and inherent risks. These IT incidents, which can encompass cyberattacks, system outages, and data breaches, can have a devastating impact.

Beyond financial losses, IT incidents disrupt business operations, damage reputations, and erode customer trust.

According to Uptime's data, the global number of outages is on the rise each year as the industry grows.

During an outage, having a well-prepared Incident Response Team (IRT) is essential to reduce downtime and improve response times.

In this blog, we’ll discuss everything around Incident Response Teams and what responsibilities they have whenever an outage or critical alert occurs.

What is Incident Response Team (IRT)

An IRT is a dedicated group of individuals within an organization responsible for identifying, containing, eradicating, and recovering from IT incidents.

They act as the organization's first line of defense, working to minimize the impact of these events.

Learn everything about Incident Response Lifecycle here!

Incident Response Team Structure

An effective Incident Response Team (IRT) requires a well-defined structure with individuals holding specific roles and responsibilities.

Here are the critical roles that make up an IRT:

1. Incident Manager/Commander:

Incident Manager Responsibilities encompass a diverse range of duties crucial for effective incident resolution and management:

  • Leads and coordinates all incident response activities (communication, investigation, containment, recovery).
  • Makes critical decisions on resource allocation, prioritization, escalation procedures.
  • Ensures adherence to the established incident response plan.

2. Technical Lead:

On the technical side of the incident response, the Technical Lead helps with the following:

  • Diagnoses the root cause of the incident through analysis of system logs, network traffic, and incident management and alerting systems.
  • Implements containment measures (e.g., isolating compromised systems) and eradication efforts (e.g., removing malware).
  • Develops and executes recovery plans to restore affected systems and data.

3. Communications Lead:

To effectively manage the incident response process, the IRT assigns a Communications Lead responsible for the below activities:

  • Manages communication flow between the IRT, the organization, and external stakeholders.
  • Prioritizes clear and timely communication to stakeholders, customers, and public authorities, balancing transparency with security needs.
  • Develops communication plans to minimize confusion and acts as the IRT spokesperson when necessary.

A critical member of the IRT is Legal Counsel, who offers guidance throughout the incident response process.

  • Ensures the IRT's actions comply with legal regulations and organizational policies.
  • Advises on compliance issues, interactions with law enforcement, and the handling of sensitive data.
Discover how SRE's conduct Root Cause Analysis  here!

Additional Roles (as needed):

  • Public Relations: Collaborates with the Communications Lead to manage the public image during an incident.
  • Human Resources: Provides support to impacted employees and ensures business continuity.
  • Business Analyst: Assesses the business impact of the incident and assists in developing recovery plans to minimize disruption.

Lifecycle of an Incident Response Team (IRT)

The IRT lifecycle is a well-defined, multi-stage process designed to ensure a systematic and efficient response to security incidents.

The stages are:

1. Preparation
2. Detection and Identification
3. Containment and Eradication
4. Recovery and Post-Incident Activities

1. Preparation:

This stage involves crafting a comprehensive plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, communication protocols, and escalation procedures for the IRT.

It is suggested that As threats and organizational structures evolve, the strategy should be a live document that is periodically evaluated and modified.

2. Detection and Identification:

  • The team employs a blend of Alerting Systems and log analysis tools for ongoing monitoring of systems and networks, detecting suspicious activity. These tools provide alerts necessitating investigation.
  • They scrutinizes alerts to distinguish between actual security threats and false positives.
  • Incidents are then categorized according to severity and potential impact on the organization.
What is Incident Priority Matrix? Read here!

3. Containment and Eradication:

  • The primary objective of the Incident Response Team at this stage is to halt the incident's spread and minimize potential damage.

This involves isolating compromised systems to prevent lateral movement within the network, disabling user accounts associated with unauthorized access attempts, or taking infected systems offline.

  • Once contained, the team focuses on eliminating the root cause of the incident.

4. Recovery and Post-Incident Activities:

  • System and Data Restoration: The IRT prioritizes swift system and data recovery to restore normal operations. This includes backups, rebuilding critical systems, and data verification.
  • Incident Documentation and Review: A detailed post-incident(also known as postmortem report) report is written for future reference. The report documents the incident timeline, root cause analysis, containment and eradication procedures employed, and lessons learned.
  • Preventive Measures: The experience from the incident is used to identify and address security weaknesses. This means patching vulnerabilities and potentially tightening access controls or deploying additional security tools. These improvements aim to strengthen the organization's defenses and prevent similar attacks in the future.

Benefits of Incident Response Team




Faster Recovery

A skilled IRT can quickly identify and fix problems caused by cyberattacks, minimizing downtime for critical systems.

Reduced lost productivity and revenue

Reduced Damage

The team acts quickly to contain cyberattacks, preventing them from spreading and causing widespread damage to your data and infrastructure.

Less risk of data breaches and exposure of sensitive information

Better Decisions Under Pressure

A clear incident response plan guides the IRT, ensuring informed decisions during stressful situations. Everyone knows their role and communication is clear, leading to fewer mistakes and a more effective response.

Minimized confusion and panic, leading to a faster and more effective response

Business Continuity

An efficient IRT focuses on both stopping the attack and restoring affected systems and data quickly. This minimizes disruptions and ensures a faster return to normalcy for your business operations.

Increased resilience to security threats and a stronger reputation for reliability

That sums up everything about IRTs.


IT incidents are a constant threat. However, by having a well-prepared Incident Response Team (IRT) in place, you can significantly reduce the impact of these events. A skilled IRT can not only minimize downtime and financial losses, but also prevent widespread damage and ensure a faster return to normalcy.

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What is an IT incident?

An IT incident is any event that disrupts the normal operation of an IT system or network. This could include anything from a simple system outage to a major cyberattack.

What is IRT?

IRT stands for Incident Response Team. It's a dedicated group of specialists within an organization who are responsible for handling and resolving IT incidents.

What's the role of IT Incident Manager in IRT?

The IT Incident Manager acts as the central figure during an incident, leading and coordinating the entire response process. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Leading the IRT
  • Technical Expertise
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Documentation and Reporting

What are the types of Incident Response Teams

There are three primary team structures: Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and Security Operations Centers (SOCs).

What are the typical roles within an IRT?

  • Incident Commander: Leads and coordinates the overall incident response effort.
  • Technical Lead: Provides technical expertise to diagnose the incident and develop a solution.
  • Communications Lead: Manages communication between the IRT, stakeholders, and external parties.
  • Investigators: Analyze evidence to determine the root cause of the incident.
  • Legal Counsel: Offers legal advice during the incident response procedure.

Anjali Udasi

As a technical writer, I love simplifying technical terms and write on latest technologies. Apart from that, I am interested in learning more about mental health and create awareness around it.