I got to work late, was trying to blow before my next meeting. I see an email from company. I click the link, thinking this is an interesting offer. I then rush off to my meeting. As I am listening to the presentation, it occurs to me, maybe that was not really my bank I clicked on. I have never seen an offer like that. Lo and behold, I had introduced a crypto-virus into our network...
Cyber security threats are growing with each passing year. 14 million businesses in the United States alone are expected to be threatened by hackers, with only 2% of small business owners rating cyber security as their top priority. But from ransomware to service disruption, cyber attacks and security breaches can be an extremely serious threat. A cyber security breach can stop a business in its tracks, by encrypting and stealing its data, bringing down its network, and keeping it from accessing tools necessary for business processes.
How Can a Business Protect Itself?
A disaster recovery plan creates a comprehensive, documented, step-by-step guide regarding what to do and how to recover in the event of a cyber security or data theft event. Through a disaster recovery plan, employees are empowered to react swiftly to threats, restore systems and data, and protect the system from new and incoming attacks. But how do you get started?
- Identify the Assets You Need to Protect
Your digital assets have different levels of security and necessity. Which assets does your business need to survive? Which assets are negligible? Not only should you identify the core assets and digital processes that your business needs to continue its operations, but these assets should also be individually prioritized.
- Build Your Ideal Disaster Recovery Scenario
If your data is lost, what is the ideal scenario? Likely, it's to be able to re-deploy your system's data quickly, while also resolving the issues that led to the cyber security breach. Having a clear goal in mind for your recovery scenario is what gives your business something to work towards.
- Investigate Your Disaster Recovery Solutions
There are many disaster recovery solutions now available, from very basic backup solutions to solutions that can sync your data in real-time and re-deploy instances with the click of a button. Investigate cloud-based, on-premise, and hybrid solutions to find the one that works best with your company's infrastructure.
- Draft Out a Disaster Recovery Plan
Your disaster recovery plan should include your major digital assets, your backup processes, and your recovery procedures. Draft out a document that outlines everything that will need to be done in the event that a disaster does occur.
- Assign Employee Roles to Specific Duties
Individual employee roles must be empowered with the ability to act during a crisis. All employees should be aware of their roles, including what they should do if a cyber security event occurs. Employees should be aware of who is authorized to re-deploy data and who should be contacted in the event that a data breach does occur. Because response time is so incredibly important, having individual employees responsible for these responses is critical.
- Create a Communications and Awareness Plan
How will employees communicate to each other that a data breach has occurred? How will they decide whether the data has to be re-deployed, and who will notify everyone in the appropriate chain of command? A communications and awareness plan should be developed to ensure that all necessary parties are notified of the issue quickly and that everyone is carrying out their duties. Ideally, everyone should know not only who to contact but the most effective route of contact. A cyber security breach can happen at any time and frequently happens outside of office hours.
- Complete Disaster Recovery Documentation
Disaster recovery documentation should be finalized that includes the assigned employee roles, communications and awareness plan, and all other processes that are directly related to the data breach. This comprehensive disaster recovery documentation should be focused on the goals of the business in terms of recovery; getting the business back to where it was before the disaster as quickly as possible.
- Test Out The Plan
Conducting a "drill" is often the easiest way to determine whether the disaster recovery plan has all bases covered. Begin with a hypothetical scenario -- such as large volumes of data being corrupted, or an active security threat being detected -- and have relevant employees act out their roles. This is where you will discover issues in communication and business processes.
- Regularly Review and Optimize Your Plan
Every year, a disaster recovery plan should be examined and optimized. A business's needs may change; their core digital assets may be altered or their backup system may become insufficient. New types of technology can be released that can make disaster recovery easier, or job positions and roles may shift such that different employees must become responsible for different roles. All of this will need to be addressed through a regular review and optimization.
Reducing your risk and reducing your damage all requires one thing: proactive planning. The faster you're able to recover from a disaster, the less likely you are to encounter significant expenses related to your disaster. And disasters come in many shapes and forms, from a complex cyber heist to a simple server room fire. By creating a disaster preparedness plan and having processes in place to re-deploy your system as quickly as possible, you can reduce the amount of damage your business will take and rest-assured that you are prepared for anything.
By the way, since we have solid backup in our operation, the recovery from the virus was simple and quick. My PC was back live before my meeting was over. I was ridiculed a bit by my team as I preach about the importance of user vigilance. But we are all susceptible!