While an incident response is in progress, the CERT team should be
investigating while working toward data and system
recovery. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the breach which dictates
the course of recovery. Having backups or offline, redundant systems
during this time is invaluable.
To recover systems, the response team must bring any downed systems or
applications back online, such as authentication servers, database
servers, and any other production resources.
Having production backup hardware ready for use is highly
recommended, such as extra hard drives, hot-spare servers, and the like.
Ready-made systems should have all production software loaded and ready
for immediate use. Only the most recent and pertinent data needs to be
imported. This ready-made system should be kept isolated from the rest
of the network. If a compromise occurs and the backup system is a part
of the network, then the purpose of having a backup system is
System recovery can be a tedious process. In many instances there
are two courses of action from which to choose. Administrators can
perform a clean re-installation of the operating system on each affected
system followed by restoration of all applications and data.
Alternatively, administrators can patch the offending vulnerabilities
and bring the affected system back into production.
Performing a clean re-installation ensures that the affected
system is cleansed of any trojans, backdoors, or malicious
processes. Re-installation also ensures that any data (if restored
from a trusted backup source) is cleared of any malicious
modifications. The drawback to total system recovery is the time
involved in rebuilding systems from scratch. However, if there is a
hot backup system available for use where the
only action to take is to dump the most recent data, system downtime
is greatly reduced.
Patching affected systems is a more dangerous course of action and
should be undertaken with great caution. The problem with patching a
system instead of reinstalling is determining whether or not a given
system is cleansed of trojans, security holes,
and corrupted data. Most rootkits (programs or
packages that a cracker uses to gain root access to a system), trojan
system commands, and shell environments are designed to hide malicious
activities from cursory audits. If the patch approach is taken, only
trusted binaries should be used (for example, from a mounted,