How to Create an Effective Cybersecurity Breach Response Plan

Cyber experts currently estimate that it takes roughly half a year to detect a data breach. Cybercrimes are expected to costs businesses over $10 trillion by 2025.

Online thieves are also expected to steal more than 30 billion personal records before 2023. That's why today's business leaders can benefit from a cybersecurity breach response plan that helps them protect these records against theft or loss.

Learn more here on what a cybersecurity breach response plan is all about. Put these steps in motion today to keep your business safe.

What is Disaster Recovery Planning?

Disaster recovery refers to your efforts to continue your business operations in the face of significant interruption. Disaster recovery solutions will safeguard computers, networks, and hand-held devices from damage and theft.

"Significant interruption" includes not only natural disasters and human mistakes but cybersecurity attacks as well. These threats will destroy your confidential information or damage historic files.

Cybersecurity risks are ongoing threats to business owners, employees, and customers. A single threat to sensitive records might shutter your company's operations indefinitely.

Some examples of common cyber threats include the following:

Drive-by Downloads

A drive-by download is a malicious website that tries to install software on your system without your approval.

A drive-by-download will penetrate your computer's security firewalls with code fragments that go unnoticed. Drive-by downloads will contact other systems to introduce more codes it needs to access your devices.

Phishing

Email phishing is a cyber-attack when an online user has their data stolen. This data can include credit card numbers or login credentials.

Phishing criminals lure a user to click on a link or open an attachment that contains malicious codes. If the user downloads or opens the code, their system becomes infected with malware.

Watering Holes

A watering hole is a legitimate website captured by a cyber-criminal. They transform a legitimate website into a malicious site. The original site owner won't even know what took place.

You give watering holes access to your website when you download files from them or click on any of their links. Soon these cybercriminals can track which websites you visit the most. Then they infect your favorite sites as well.

Ransomware

A ransomware attack infects access to computer systems. Access isn't released unless a user pays a fee or "ransom" amount.

Users receive instructions on how to pay the ransom fee. Then they receive a decryption code that releases their system. These fees may range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What is a Cybersecurity Breach Response Plan?

Cybersecurity breach response plans are written documents. They outline the tasks your team must launch during online security incidents.

These plans will include specific directions on how and when employees must execute established emergency procedures. Elements of a comprehensive breach response plan include:

Existing Equipment Inventory

An effective cybersecurity response plan includes a listing of all of the company's current equipment used. This inventory covers locations and configurations as well. Examples of equipment to include in your inventory are:

  • Workstations, PC's, monitors, and laptops
  • Printers
  • Phones and VoIP systems
  • Network gateways, switches, and routers
  • Ethernet switches
  • Standing or physical servers
  • NAS and shared storage and
  • Power supply equipment.

List of Existing Software Used

List the operating systems that your equipment uses. Make a note of the configurations you will need help to restart in the event of an emergency. Keep track of these items:

  • Cloud-hosted applications
  • Server software and
  • Individual PC software.

Categorize Specific Company Data and Systems Storing It

Categorize the data that's stored currently in your infrastructure systems and their related functions. Some data categories might include decision support systems, transaction files, or management systems.

Prioritize which categories should be recovered first in case you have a power outage.

Company's Impact Analysis

This analysis classifies which system deserves immediate attention during security incidents. "Impacts" are those factors that drive your company's potential for lost revenues or business recovery risks.

Staff Procedures Before and During a Crisis

Your breach response plan should describe staff protocols to follow throughout the emergency. This section instructs staff on the best ways to follow the disaster recovery plan.

This section also includes what circumstances must exist to launch the directives in the plan. Your breach response plan should describe the necessary alert levels and how your team should monitor each level.

Other staff procedures might include ongoing education and training requirements. They'll need these skills to stay current on handling an emergency.

Communication Procedures

Your breach plan should also describe how you will communicate with staff and deliver updates. These updates will address the current status of a current emergency.

Cybersecurity response plans might also include steps for communicating with governmental offices. These plans can also include sections on how to share any updates with local media outlets, as well.

Protocols to Recover and Continue Operations

This section includes the necessary steps your company must follow for business continuity and disaster recovery to maintain minimum service levels. That could mean identifying all necessary equipment and staff to operate reduced levels of service.

Other components could include acceptable downtimes for the business to react and recover. Your response plan should also include a data protection plan and how your company expects to recover electronic records when the emergency passes.

Who Should Prepare the Cybersecurity Breach Response Plan?

You or your company's leadership can assign this responsibility to themselves or a group of their staff. Choose some managers within the company to lead the effort.

Assign other staff members to participate in this effort that can demonstrate the following skills:

  • Think creatively to find alternative solutions to unique problems
  • Dependable decision-making skill
  • Understands your company's goals and objectives and
  • Skilled researching ability who can identify potential risks

Steps to Creating a Cybersecurity Breach Response Plan

When you are ready to draft your plan, follow these guidelines to get started down the right path:

Set Goals and Objectives

Your first step is to outline the objectives of your plan. For example, one goal might include minimizing costs or reducing staff levels during a data breach crisis.

Run Worst Case Scenario Exercises

Do an inventory of your existing resources and evaluate the damages to them during a worst-case scenario crisis. Some examples of worst-case scenarios can include storm damage or cyber-attacks that could result in lost files or data.

These exercises will help you predict any downtime you might have during these disasters. They will also show you how you can recover from the disaster given what level of resources you currently have on hand.

Schedule Disaster Recovery Plan Testing

You should also make sure to include a schedule for launching disaster testing activities for your plan. Launch a staged "crisis" and see how well your plan guides your team's efforts.

The test results can prove whether your plan is meeting its stated objectives. It will also show you areas that need improvement. Recovery plan testing exercises will also help you judge if your recovery strategies will work as intended or not.

Set Timelines/Milestones

Your cybersecurity incident response plan should be a timeless document, ready to address whatever current-day disasters might come your way. Create a timeline with due dates for your plan to finish all milestones.

Be sure to schedule update meetings with your writing team. Ask them to share their plan drafting progress.

Advantages to Cybersecurity Breach Response Plans

Breach response plan solutions can provide the following benefits to your business:

Consistent Team Responses

A cybersecurity breach response plan will ensure that your staff is all working simultaneously during disaster recovery efforts.

You won't have some team members trying different solutions to resolve the same crisis you're all experiencing. Your company will have a consistent and uniform reaction that keeps operations running smoothly.

Uninterrupted Customer Service

Effective response plans help companies continue service to their customers while they wait to fix any security incidents. The best plans can also minimize customer complaints.

You can also expect to keep their customer loyalty as you continue to function during the crisis.

What Are Your Next Steps?

Meet with your team today. Recruit some volunteers to help draft your cybersecurity breach response plan committee. Include your Chief Information Officer on this committee.

Work with your staff and identify any mission-critical services or systems. Decide how to maintain a minimum service level until the emergency is done.

Don't forget to visit our security center for more news and alerts on cybersecurity. Or give us a call today. We'll help keep your business running no matter what disaster comes your way.

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