How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan for a Data Breach

What happens to your business if the unthinkable happens and you suffer data loss? Heres your guide to writing a disaster recovery plan for data breach situations.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Do you have auto insurance? Is your home insured? When you go on a road trip, do you plan for emergencies?

Why do you have those insurances? You took your driving test, didn’t you? And do you drive vigilantly, taking notice of the road and other users?

Why pay for house insurance, when you lock all the doors and windows and take all the precautions you can against severe weather and natural disasters?

Why take extra rations and water with you on a road trip? Why fill up with gas when it’s only going to need half a tank?

You do all these things for one reason. No matter how well you prepare, you must be prepared for the worst. It’s just plain-old good commonsense.

And it’s the commonsense attitude that companies should have when it comes to data security. You should prepare for the worst, and hope it never happens ─ but if it should, you’re fully prepared.

We are, of course, talking about having a disaster recovery plan for a data breach.

What is a disaster recovery plan?

A disaster recovery plan is a set of procedures that are put in place to recover the business from a disaster. It’s going to help you be fully prepared to get back to business as normal as fast as possible, by managing data loss, protecting your reputation, and preventing further damage to your business.

How does data breach recovery planning protect your business?

If you suffer an auto accident, insurance is designed to get you back on the road as quickly as possible and protect you from the financial consequences. Data breach recovery planning goes a lot further ─ you’ve got a lot more at stake, a lot more to protect, for you, your employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders.

A comprehensive, well-designed data breach recovery plan will:

  • Limit the impact of the disaster on the business

The impact of a disaster on a business will depend on the speed and effectiveness of the recovery plan.

  • Minimize the impact on business processes and operations

The faster you return to business as usual, the less impact a data breach will have on your operations and revenues.

  • Minimize any physical or cyber-damage

Cyberattacks, theft, and data breaches can have a huge toll on a business, including requiring you to replace hardware and software, and update processes and procedures.

  • Reduce the costs associated with the data breach

Implementing disaster recovery planning will help to reduce the costs of a data breach. You’ll be faster to react and respond with greater purpose and poise.

  • Train staff in the processes shown to mitigate disasters

Every staff member can be trained in the processes needed to reduce the impact of a data breach and provide peace of mind to the business ─ and themselves, their colleagues, and others.

  • Identify ways of working while the business is managing the disaster

There are many ways to work while the business is managing the disaster. This may include working offline, from another location, with backup data, and so on.

  • Identify and instigate post-disaster recovery procedures

There are many things that you will need to do in case of a data breach. Your disaster recovery plan will identify these, and detail the processes needed to continue operating your business.

5 Key elements of an effective disaster recovery plan

With an effective disaster recovery plan, you’ll be able to ensure that your company and its assets are secure and that you’re up and running as quickly as possible. You must compose your plan diligently, methodically, and in line with your business strategy. That’s going to make it unique, though there are five key elements that must be covered.

  1. Roles and responsibilities

You need people at the helm, to take charge and direct operations. To do this successfully, it’s crucial to understand what responsibilities are associated with each piece of your disaster recovery plan. The people you make responsible must have the necessary technical expertise and people skills to make the plan work.

It is important to know that there are two levels of responsibility: primary and secondary. The primary responsibility is someone who must be on-site when a disaster occurs to ensure the business can continue running. The secondary responsibility is someone who can step in if the primary person cannot be there during a disaster.

Another consideration ─ do you name these people, or should they be appointed according to their role? Remember, too, that these people will need training around disaster recovery and their specific roles.

  1. Identify the risk areas

You can’t protect what you don’t know is at risk. Therefore, take time to identify what areas of your business are at most risk, and what is most at risk to your business. You should identify:

  • Data loss risks

  • Business impact risks

  • Where lack of experience with disaster planning exists

  • The support needed from senior management

  • Training needs of staff

  • Confidentiality and integrity risks

  • Recovery time objectives

Your business will have its own specific areas of risk: for example, regulatory reporting requirements and standards. These should all be considered as potential areas of risk: doing something poorly can cause further damage.

  1. Conduct a Business Impact Assessment (BIA)

The BIA process starts with identifying the organization’s mission-critical functions and then assessing the impacts of those functions being disrupted. This document is crucial in disaster recovery planning, and the BIA should be conducted by a team of people with various skill sets, including but not limited to:

  • Risk assessment experts

  • IT professionals

  • Facilities management experts

  • Legal experts

  • Insurance professionals

When you are constructing your BIA, remember that it should include an evaluation of the impact on your people, premises, production, suppliers, customers, and finances. The results of a BIA will help to develop a suitable response plan for recovery from disasters.

  1. Asset audit

When you develop an IT disaster recovery plan, you need to take inventory of your entire IT infrastructure. If even one critical system fails, the rest of them may not run properly. 

Your disaster recovery plan must include an audit of your whole IT infrastructure ─ and you’ll need to maintain this, too. This includes:

  • Hardware, such as networks, servers, computers, laptops, etc.

  • Software, including CRM tools, project management apps, email, etc.

  • Data and databases

  • Connectivity (cabling, wireless routers, etc.)

It’s good practice to also include information about your technical support and systems/hardware/software vendors.

  1. Conduct regular backups

A backup is a copy of your data that can be used if the original data becomes inaccessible for any reason. The frequency of backups is figured out by your organization’s risk tolerance, budget, data usage, and system availability requirements.

Backups can be stored onsite or offsite, depending on how quickly they need to be accessed and how much additional expense they incur. 

How crucial is it to back up your data regularly? Think of it this way. If your personal memory was wiped, and then you were put at the driver’s wheel of your car, how do you think you’d get on? Your business needs up-to-date data to run effectively.

Always be prepared for data breach recovery

Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated every day. And they want your data, to exploit you, your employees, and your customers.

When was the last time you updated your disaster recovery planning to specifically include data breach recovery planning? Has your IT infrastructure evolved since?

Contact Millennium Tech today, and discover if your business is properly protected against data loss, and protected should a data breach occur.

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