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How to Develop a Cyberattack Recovery Plan

Apr 14, 2023

Cyberattacks have become a daily threat that can have a significant impact on any business. Between the increase in digital activity driven by the pandemic and the lucrative financial gain, cybercrime is here to stay. Every business is at risk of being affected by a breach, and that means your business needs a plan.

Building a solid business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan helps to ensure essential business functions continue to operate with minimal disruption. In the case of a cyberattack, the plan should include recovery strategies to restore any affected business processes as quickly as possible.

Business Impact Analysis

A business impact analysis will help an organization weigh what costs it may incur due to a disruption. Exploring the numerous outcomes associated with various cyberattack scenarios, and forecasting the time it could take to get your organization up and running again, will help prepare your business for an attack. Such a situation analysis will also help pinpoint and improve any blind spots in the organization and close any gaps in controls.

A breach or ransomware attack could cause significant economic damage, which might continue to grow depending on how long it takes to restore the network. It’s essential to quantify digital assets that a cybercriminal may find valuable, such as customer information, ACH/wire transfers, and payroll information. Cyberattacks stemming from breaches or security controls failures might result in regulatory fines, contractual penalties, or privacy law violations.

Beyond the immediate financial impact, data breaches may damage the organization’s brand, causing customers to question the organization’s reputation and go elsewhere for products or services. Plus, the cost to restore processes from a third-party vendor or to build temporary systems will add to the tab.

In the case of a ransomware infection, organizations must consider the pros and cons of paying the ransom. Ransomware is involved in 10% of all breaches, and 37% of global organizations reported being a victim of it in 2021. These digital heists can have debilitating effects on small and large businesses, as the average ransomware payment reported in the first half of 2021 was $570,000. Nothing will keep you 100% safe, but a good recovery plan will help mitigate the damage.

The Recovery Plan

Designing an organized, well-thought-out response in the event of a breach can lessen the damage from a cyberattack.

First, identify the most critical functions and identify the individuals or teams responsible for performing a damage assessment. Then, prepare a list of external resources, such as IT vendors and legal counsel. The BC/DR plan should include a detailed IT recovery plan, including network and data restoration. Establish a clear set of goals, such as recovery time objectives. Also, describe ways to minimize disruption, such as by isolating certain backup functions.

Next, outline the framework needed to keep operations moving forward. For example, you might identify manual workarounds or alternate networks, such as personal emails and computers. A business continuity plan will instruct employees on how to shift to the alternative working conditions, and it will enable them to communicate with customers and collaborate in the temporary environment.

To reduce confusion and panic after a real business disruption, educate employees on the recovery plan in advance of a potential threat. Employees will then have a clear set of instructions for reacting to a threat immediately, rather than waiting for guidance after an attack has already happened. Similarly, it’s ideal to prepare public relations communications before a breach so an official statement can be sent to customers, stakeholders, and media immediately following a cyber event.

Be sure to articulate how the IT department and other critical roles will work together quickly and effectively. Outline how employees should communicate to one another and customers, and how they will work around the attack to continue doing their jobs.

Minimize Business Disruption

Taking the necessary risk management steps before a cyberattack will help your organization reduce the impact, cost, and time required to resume business as usual. However, the BC/DR plan must also be continually tested to determine if internal defenses and reactions are sufficient responses to a threat. Fire drills and simulated scenarios can validate your plans and help management and employees respond to cyberattacks as a cohesive team.

To better understand your organization’s cybersecurity risks and appropriate mitigation strategies, download our Business Owner’s Guide to Cybersecurity. Or contact your CRI advisor for help developing a strategic BC/DR plan designed specifically for your organization.



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