Incident Response vs Incident Management | Uncover SRE Terms

If you found your way to this post, it’s likely because you’re trying to determine what the difference is between incident response and incident management. You may be a new SRE, or switched companies and things aren’t being treated in the same way.

Scott Lasica
November 1, 2021

If you found your way to this post, it’s likely because you’re trying to determine what the difference is between incident response and incident management. You may be a new SRE, or switched companies and things aren’t being treated in the same way. The good news is you’ve come to the right place.

Incident response and incident management are defined differently by different organizations around the world. Doing a google on incident response vs incident management brings up an article from the UK NCSC. In this article, they state:

Incident Management (IM)

       Incident Management sits within and across any response process, ensuring all stages are handled. IM deals with any communications, media handling, escalations and any reporting issues, pulling the whole response together, coherently and holistically.

Incident Response (IR)

       Incident Response includes triage, in-depth analysis, technical recovery actions and more.

The above implies that incident management is at a higher level, spanning the organization and defining the overall process for handling incidents, while incident response defines the actual technical steps done to contain and resolve the issue.

On the same first page google results, I found another definition from the US CISA. This definition states:

This process of identifying, analyzing, and determining an organizational response to computer security incidents is called incident management.

Unfortunately this reads as the opposite of the prior definition, stating that incident management encompasses the technical steps of identifying and analyzing the incident, as well as the “response” which implies the repair/remediation.

Just another couple Google results down the page finds a post from Educause. Here, they say they are the same thing:

Information security incident management programs (sometimes also called information security incident response programs)…

Irrespective of your definition, it’s important to define a clear incident response process with repeatable consistent steps to be followed in the case of an outage.

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For good practices around incident response and incident management, take a look at our article What’s a Runbook?

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