Trauma Stewardship and Incident Response

Tuesday, February 02, 2021 - 11:50 am12:20 pm

Leigh Honeywell, Tall Poppy


It is uncommon in security incident response to even acknowledge the profound feelings of violation that often accompany security incidents. This is somewhat understandable when we're talking about the systems at people's workplaces, but in working with individuals facing online harassment it's crystal clear that these feelings often edge into the territory of trauma psychology. As incident responders, too, we experience the effects of close contact with trauma—and need tools to manage our own feelings and experiences as a result.

There is a way forward—the body of knowledge established by caregivers and first responders who don't have much to do with computers. We as a field can learn to apply this knowledge—sometimes called "trauma stewardship"—to our work with individuals and systems affected by security incidents.

Leigh Honeywell, Tall Poppy

Leigh has more than a decade of experience in computer security incident response. Prior to co-founding Tall Poppy, she was a Technology Fellow at the ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology. Her industry career included running security incident response at Slack, protecting infrastructure running a million apps at, shipping patches for billions of computers on a monthly basis at Microsoft, and analyzing malware at Symantec. Leigh has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto where she majored in Computer Science and Equity Studies, and is a frequent keynote speaker at security and software conferences around the world.

@conference {264126,
author = {Leigh Honeywell},
title = {Trauma Stewardship and Incident Response},
year = {2021},
address = {Oakland, CA},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},
month = feb,