Every 39 seconds, a business has its cybersecurity breached. Some of these breaches are nothing more than hackers testing their skills, but some are much more than that. The attackers are after sensitive data, financial information, and other vital files that can leave your business on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s no longer a matter of wondering if your security will be breached—it’s more a matter of when.

Many company leaders focus on preventing cyber-attacks, but few have a plan in place for dealing with one after it occurs making business continuity plans a necessity. Even with your best security experts placing multiple layers of cyber protection around your servers, you’re still not completely safe. With a business continuity plan, you’ll know exactly how to respond to different styles of attacks. If your company doesn’t have one, it is time to begin looking at what business continuity is and how to apply it to your business.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

A business continuity plan is a thorough emergency document that outlines how a company will continue to function during and after a disaster or other unplanned disruption. Today, a large section of a business continuity plan focuses on cyber security risks and data loss, but that is not enough. They should also include plans for what to do if the business is affected by a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or fire. Some companies also include plans for succession should a C-level employee unexpectedly leave. The plan includes contingency plans for continuing operations, protecting data, informing employees and customers of the disaster, and more.

In short, a business continuity plan needs to account for as many potential business disruptions as possible and have plans in place for dealing with each. When a disaster occurs, your team can find the right plan (or one similar to it) and follow the outline. There is no need to determine who is in charge of the recovery operation, what tasks need to be done, or attempt to delegate jobs in the midst of the crisis. This removes the risk of making decisions without taking the proper time to think things through or take action due to panic. Instead, by creating the continuity plan outside of an emergency, you and your team have the time to address all angles of a situation and prepare a thorough, well-thought-out response. Learn more about the importance of a plan and what it does.

What Are the Components of a Business Continuity Plan?

There are a number of different parts of a business continuity plan. The major part most businesses focus on is the technology disaster recovery plan. This is the part of the business continuity plan that focuses on IT security solutions, how to handle a situation in which those solutions fail, and how to determine what new cyber security services to put into place. This part of the plan should include the following:

  • A network security audit that lists all of your data and how that data is being protected.
  • A list of potential scenarios, including different avenues of attack and data theft.
  • Potential responses for each scenario.
  • Solutions you can implement now to reduce the risk associated with as many scenarios as possible.
  • Employees who will oversee various parts of each response and what their duties will be.
  • The location of backup sites, additional hardware, and other resources that may need to be used in potential responses.
  • How clients, business partners, and others will be notified. This may even include rough drafts of press releases and other responses that can be customized to fit each scenario.
  • How the company will operate through each potential scenario, including what services will be scaled back or temporarily discontinued.
  • A rough timeline for resuming standard operations.
  • Contact information for all C-level employees, supervisors, and other key personnel.
  • Contact information for key individuals who are outside of the business (partners, news agencies to release information, etc.).

You will also want to create a list of tools that can help you reduce or eliminate potential risks. CyberCompass offers automated solutions that will help you reduce data breaches and protect your network from intruders. When you combine tools like these with basic cyber security awareness training for your employees, you greatly diminish the risk of a successful cyber-attack.

Who Is Involved in Creating this Plan?

cyber resilient teamA business continuity plan isn’t written by one person. Instead, you need to form a business continuity team. This team should include members from all aspects of your company. Ideally, you’ll have a supervisor or manager, an employee from each department and at least two C-level company leaders. One focus of this team will be looking at a potential scenario from all angles. Even though it may seem like your IT department will be doing most of the heavy lifting in an event involving servers, others may have different perspectives that can highlight threats no one else might see.

In some cases, you may also want to bring in an outside consultant who has experience in building business continuity plans. Like employees outside of IT, these consultants bring a fresh perspective. They are unfamiliar with how your business operates, and they may be able to see potential risks that your team does not.

CyberCompass offers the tools to build your business continuity plan. Our CyberCompass Surveyor tools pinpoint your risk and analyze it. Through multiple tools, we assess your vendors and employees, test your networks and compare your standings with any regulating entity. Our Calibrator components help you take the data from the Surveyor and actively apply it to your business, workforce and vendors.

Creating Your Business Continuity Plan

SRA checklistOnce your business continuity team has been formed, you will need to conduct a business impact analysis. Again, this is where our cyber security assessment services can be of assistance. This analysis should look at risks from three potential areas:

  • Financial
  • Operational
  • Physical

For cyber security, your main threats will fall into the financial and operational categories, although there may be a few physical risks to consider as well. The team will begin by brainstorming various risks to the company to create a list of scenarios to address. You may also want to create a questionnaire for all of your employees to fill out. Once you have created the list of risks, each item needs to be expanded to include details such as the origin of the threat, how it will affect the business, and any long-term aftereffects.

In addition to identifying threats, your business continuity plan will also need to identify resources. This will give you an idea of what tools you have on hand to deal with the fallout of a cyberattack. It helps you identify resources you don’t have but need putting you ahead of the fallout from an incident.

Preparing Scenarios and Responses

Now that you have a list of risks and resources, it’s time to create scenarios and how they will play out. This is perhaps the most important part of a business continuity plan. Each scenario begins with a question, such as:

  • What if the network is hacked and sensitive customer data is stolen?
  • What if IT discovers spyware or phishing malware on our computers?
  • What if internal documents or emails are stolen and leaked?

Each question should be discussed, analyzed, and expanded upon in order to cover all angles of the scenario. The team should create at least one solid response to each of these scenarios, although you may also want to write multiple responses that vary depending on how many variables a scenario may have.

Your Plan Needs to Evolve Over Time

Your business continuity plan is not a set document that you create once and never look at until it is needed. Risks to your business will change over time, so it is vital that your continuity plan also evolve and change. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic led to many employees working remotely. This presented a number of potential risks involving remote worker security, which many companies simply had not addressed because their workforce did not work remotely. Few business owners anticipated a situation in which they were forced to completely close their offices, but it happened. Those that had a similar risk scenario in their business continuity plan were able to quickly adapt to having a remote workforce. Those that did not were left struggling to create a functional and safe method for employees to work virtually.

Ideally, your team will review your business continuity plan annually. Here are some points that should be discussed during this review:

  • What resources have changed?
  • What risks no longer apply or have been greatly reduced?
  • What new risks does the company face?
  • What other new factors need to be included in your business continuity plan?

By updating your continuity plan regularly, your business will continue to be prepared for many disasters. Never assume you have covered every possible situation; however, even when an unexpected scenario occurs, you will still be more prepared by having a plan. One of your existing responses may have some applicable points. Even if you don’t have an appropriate response, you do have a list of resources and other tools in your business continuity plan that will help you craft a response to the event.

If your company doesn’t have a business continuity plan, it’s time to create one. CyberCompass can assist you with assessing your company’s risks and reducing as many of these risks as possible. Contact us today to learn more.

CyberCompass Surveyor components identify and prioritize risks through a variety of vulnerability scans, testing and standards based assessments.

CyberCompass Calibrator components focus on remediating, reducing and managing risks with guidance from our team of experts.

Rapid changes to the work environment has left businesses vulnerable. Our Remote Workforce Security program allows you to assess and increase the security of your remote employees.

Your people are your first line of defense against cyber attacks. Our CyberCompass Academy provides cybersecurity awareness training to increase your human firewall.

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