It’s safe to say that we all want to keep operations functional, align budgets, and feel prepared and confident in our business. However, due to the complexities of technology service continuity and cybersecurity, it’s often unclear how to move the needle incrementally toward accomplishing those objectives. Fortunately, using a three-phased business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) approach to focus your efforts will result in meaningful progress toward achieving your business goals.
Phase 1: Develop Technology Recovery and Incident Response Plans
To be blunt, technology will fail, people will make mistakes, and the threat landscape will always be prevalent, so, to combat these vulnerabilities at your organization, you need both a Technology Recovery and an Incident Response plan. Having both plans in place not only minimizes the risks your business faces (reputational, regulatory, revenue, etc.), they also give you the best chance to remain a viable business if a worst-case scenario happens – because they do happen.
Moreover, regulators and cyber insurance providers increasingly require technology recovery and incident response plans. You can ensure your insurability, get better rates, and limit your compliance risk exposure by proactively developing both.
A Technology Recovery Plan:
- Aims to ensure the continuation of technology services both internally to staff and externally to customers, as well as protects stakeholder interests and establishes that regulatory requirements are being me.
- Prepares personnel to successfully manage potential technology interruptions or IT disaster situations while also considering the sensitivity and importance of data and information.
- Reduces the risk faced by communications and data networks by ensuring the restoration of critical business functions within an amount of time deemed acceptable by the business (known as Recovery Time Objectives or RTOs).
An Incident Response Plan:
- Assists with the discovery, containment, and resolution of any security incident that may occur.
- Helps personnel to minimize loss or theft of information and disruption of services caused by incidents.
- Improves the ability to use insight gained following the resolution of an incident to better prepare for future incident management, as well as provides stronger protection for systems and data.
- Assists with properly resolving any legal issues that may arise during an incident.
Phase 2: Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Plans
Whether your Technology Recovery and Incident Response plans are non-existent, basic, or mature, you’ll want to validate the effectiveness of the plans and ensure they align with the expectations of your internal stakeholders. Two primary tactics are a consultation with credentialed and experienced experts and simulating technology and security incidents via tabletop exercises.
Experts guide your executive teams, board of directors, and owners through the process of defining and documenting the business risk tolerances, as well as help you to align the supporting processes, technologies, and personnel to achieve the goals. If the resulting budget needed to support the desired risk level isn’t viable, they can also help inform decision-making and prioritization to balance risk tolerances and budget to acceptable levels.
Running scenarios via tabletop exercises stress-tests your plans in a simulated environment to help identify gaps and areas of improvement. While it’s trite, it’s true: practice makes perfect. Tabletop exercises are like scrimmage practices that help uncover gaps at the intersection of people, processes, and technology.
Phase 3: Improve and Maintain the Plans
During the expert consultation and tabletop exercises in phase 2, gaps will be identified and recorded. In phase 3, prioritize these gaps, then integrate them into the plan to improve its effectiveness and value. Focusing on only a few high-value improvements each cycle yields the most progress.
Beyond improvement, routine maintenance is also necessary. The plan must be continually updated to reflect changes to resources (systems and personnel) as well as the business environment. The plan must be retested, and personnel re-trained and updated on any changes.
By repeating phases 2 and 3 over time, you’ll continually improve and maintain your plan. Pick the intervals that work for your business, then schedule and execute. The right interval for each business varies according to business size, industry, compliance regulations, etc., so it’s not one-size-fits-all. However, annually is a reasonable minimum threshold.
Starting your BCDR journey
To get started with business continuity and disaster recovery at your organization, you’ll first want to proactively develop Technology Recovery and Incident Response plans (or review the ones you already have in place). Then, seek guidance from experts to validate and test the plans. From there, fill the gaps to improve and maintain. Once you’ve completed all these steps, repeat. This is an ongoing process, not a one-time project, as regulations, insurance requirements, systems, business needs, personnel, vendors, and other factors will change.
SUCCESS can assist you through every step of the process. Contact us to learn about our collaborative offerings to advance your business continuity and disaster recovery.