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How Businesses Can Create a Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery Plan

It's imperative to have a plan in place to keep the impact of cybersecurity breaches at bay.
December 19, 2023

If you want to protect your business and avoid a total catastrophe, it’s essential to create a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan

But what exactly does this entail? And what are the best strategies for putting one together? 

What is a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan?

Disaster recovery is all about making sure your business can continue operating with minimal losses in the event of a disaster. 

Cybersecurity disaster recovery focuses explicitly on disasters resulting from cyber threats, such as DDoS attacks or data breaches

Your recovery plan will detail the steps your organization needs to take to stop losses, end the threat, and move on without jeopardizing the future of the business. These are some of the biggest goals you’ll need to achieve with any plan you develop. 

1. Business continuity

First and foremost, you need to establish a line of business continuity. 

In other words, your highest priority needs to be making sure that the business can continue operating during and immediately after the threat. This way, you can continue generating revenue. In addition, you’ll want to maintain your reputation as you pick up the pieces in the wake of the disaster. 

2. Data protection

You’ll also need to think about protecting your data. 

This includes minimizing data accessibility to hackers, reducing the threat of data loss, and making it possible to back up your data when the threat is over. 

3. Loss minimization

Businesses can suffer various other losses and forms of damage in the wake of a disaster. 

These include financial losses, legal ramifications, and reputational blows. Therefore, part of your disaster recovery plan needs to focus on minimizing these losses. 

4. Communication

You also need to think about how you will communicate this disaster, both internally and externally. 

How will you make sure all your staff members are up-to-date about what has happened? And how are you going to break the news to stakeholders? 

5. Restoration

Once the threat has been mitigated or completely ended, you can focus on restoration. 

What steps do you need to take to restore your systems back to normal, and what’s the fastest and most efficient path to do this? 

6. Improvements

Every disaster recovery plan should also have a phase documented for reflection and improvement. 

Why did this threat jeopardize your business? What did you do right? What did you do wrong? And what improvements can you make in the future? 

Choose the proper authorities 

Before you start sketching out your disaster recovery plan, it’s a good idea to consider which authorities you want to trust on this subject. 

Many businesses choose to outsource some of these responsibilities. Instead, they hire an IT support service provider to help them evaluate their potential risks and assemble a recovery plan. 

Failing that, it’s a good idea to designate one person in your organization to be in charge of signing off on the final plan and executing that plan in the event of a cyber security disaster. This could be your CTO, the head of your IT department, or some other authority. 

Invest in prevention

In a perfect world, you’ll never need a disaster recovery plan because you’ll never face a cybersecurity disaster. That’s why it’s a good idea to invest in prevention as much as you invest in recovery, if not more so.  

  • Firewalls and VPNs. Firewalls and VPNs give you more control over traffic and accessibility on your network. 
  • Updates and upgrades. Staying up to date with the latest software patches and best practices can help you guard against the majority of recently revealed vulnerabilities. 
  • Strict content controls. Internal content controls can prevent unauthorized access to your most important data and applications. 
  • Accessibility limitations. If a smaller number of people can access your company’s most sensitive data, you’ll bear fewer risks. 
  • Staff education. The majority of security exploits are a direct result of human error. As a result, it pays to train and educate your staff on best practices for cybersecurity.  

Identify your most significant potential threats

One of the most essential phases of your cybersecurity disaster recovery planning is identifying your most significant potential threats. 

You’ll need to identify the potential hacks, attacks, breaches, and exploits that could threaten your organization and understand the risks associated with those events. 

It’s also important to understand the consequences of those threats. For example, how will your finances be affected if you face one of these threats? What legal consequences could there be? How will stakeholders respond to such a threat? 

Once you understand both the likelihood and the consequences of a given threat, you’ll be able to contextualize it and understand its priority level. 

Establish a monitoring plan

How are you going to monitor for these threats? Well-prepared businesses have an ongoing monitoring program in place. 

It allows them to notice when a breach is underway, or identify a threat before it’s too late. Consequently, this is the most crucial part of your disaster recovery plan, since it allows you to end the threat quickly and begin responding to it before it’s too late. 

Define roles and responsibilities

Within your organization, make sure you define the roles and responsibilities of your staff members. 

You already have one person in charge of overseeing the finalization and potential execution of your cybersecurity disaster recovery plan. But who will be responsible for coordinating resources on the ground level to execute that plan? 

Additionally, who will be in charge of coordinating communication with stakeholders? 

You don’t want to be scrambling around at the last minute, wondering who’s responsible for what. Secure organizations tend to run drills, so there’s no ambiguity in internal roles and responsibilities. As a result, everyone knows what they’re responsible for because they practiced it. 

Invest in data backups

Data backups are an indispensable tool in cybersecurity disaster recovery. 

If all your data is securely backed up in an independent location, you’ll have an option to restore your systems no matter what threats you’re facing. 

Ransomware attacks, DDoS attacks, and total corruption of your data won’t cause permanent damage. You’ll always be able to restore a previous version of your company’s most important resources. 

Create a response plan

Of course, you’ll also need to solidify the action items within your response plan. So, once you identify a threat, what will you do?  

  • Prioritize business continuity.  
  • Your biggest priority needs to be establishing business continuity
  • What steps need to be taken to ensure that the business can continue serving customers without interruptions?   
  • Create alternative channels, services, and facilities.  
  • In pursuit of this, it’s a good idea to document alternative channels, services, and facilities that your business can use. 
  • Assume your primary communication resources have been compromised. 
  • How can you make a smooth transition?   
  • Put together a communication plan.  
  • Think about how you’re going to communicate with your internal team that the threat is underway. 
  • Plan how you’re going to announce the threat to stakeholders and the general public.   
  • Track recovery metrics.  
  • Establish protocols for tracking recovery metrics. 
  • For example, how quickly did you respond to the threat once identified? 
  • Additionally, how much time did it take you to get the business back up and running?    

Document and reassess

Finally, you’ll need to establish some protocols for documenting the threat. 

Protocols include evaluating your disaster recovery execution and making improvements for the future. Good cybersecurity strategies always have an element of continuous improvement. There are always things that you can improve on and always new things to learn. 

Don’t assume that the cybersecurity disaster recovery plan you made three years ago is still relevant. But, hopefully, it’s at least still reflective of your best work. 

In conclusion, the more proactive you are with your company’s cybersecurity strategy, the better protected you’re going to be against a rising number of business threats in the digital space. Of course, with ample prevention, you may never have to use it. However, it will serve as an invaluable safety net in a worst-case scenario. 

This article was written by Deanna Ritchie from ReadWrite and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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