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The Crucial First 48 Hours: Navigating Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

The actions you take in the first 48 hours of a business disruption dictate the speed and effectiveness of resuming business operations. These first two days set the stage for recovery and continuity efforts, defined by quick assessments, decisive actions, and the effective mobilization of resources. An organized business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy makes this all possible. 

Understanding the fundamentals

A well-rounded strategy includes incorporating Incident Response, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery to ensure both immediate and long-term stability.

Incident Response

This is the first line of defense when a security incident occurs, and is focused on the immediate steps to manage, respond, contain, and mitigate the impact of an incident.

  • The process is focused on the immediate steps to manage, respond, contain, and mitigate the impact of an incident.

Business Continuity 

This is the strategy involved in preparing for and maintaining essential business functions during a disaster or significant interruption.

  • An essential part of this strategy is understanding the Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which is the maximum acceptable length of time that your processes and systems can be offline after a failure or disaster.

Disaster Recovery

This is the strategy involved in restoring infrastructure, systems, and operations after a disruption. This includes planning around the Recovery Point Objective (RPO), which is the maximum acceptable amount of data loss for an organization.

  • This also helps determine how frequently data backups should occur.

⛔ Stop and consider:

  • Does your organization differentiate between Incident Response and BCDR?

Enhancing BCDR strategies

Each risk applicable to an organization will have unique characteristics, however, there are key elements that support building a resilient BCDR strategy. 

Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly outlined roles and responsibilities ensures that every team member knows exactly what to do, reducing chaos and overlap in responsibilities.
  • This clarity is crucial when every minute counts.

Streamlined Communication

The strategy should outline how to establish effective communication channels to facilitate swift decision-making and information dissemination, both internally and externally.

Detailed Scenario Playbooks

Create comprehensive playbooks for when business critical systems or applications go down, with step-by-step actions to take.
  • For instance, a retail company directs its staff to manually track sales and stock levels when its inventory management system is down. While this approach is imperfect, it allows operations to continue, even under less-than-ideal conditions.

Secure and Tested Backups

The integrity and availability of backups are non-negotiable in a BCDR strategy. Regular testing ensures that in the event of data loss or system compromise, recovery can be initiated without delay.
  • Corvus has found that organizations with secure and viable off-site backups are more likely to increase their chance of recovery and decrease their chance of paying ransom.

Cross-Functional BCDR Teams

Include representatives from various departments, from the Executive team, Engineering, IT, Security, HR, Finance, Product, and more to ensure that all aspects of your business are considered in the BCDR strategy.

Regular Drills and Stress Testing

Conduct drills and stress tests at least annually to identify potential cracks in the BCDR strategy.
  • This way those cracks can be patched before the organization is hit with a real disruption.

⛔ Stop and consider:

  • Who is responsible for identifying and initiating the BCDR strategy during a disruption?
  • Do you have a clear communication plan for internal and external stakeholders?
    How effectively can you allocate resources during a crisis?
  • Do you have a plan in place on how to continue business operations if a critical system were to go down?
  • What steps are taken to assess the impact and prepare for recovery?
  • How do you restore operations and update stakeholders throughout the disruption? 

The broader spectrum of BCDR risks

A robust BCDR covers cyber threats and other critical risks that could lead to a business disruption. While cyber threats are often the primary focus in BCDR strategies, it is crucial to consider a broader spectrum of risks. These risks can include:

Cyber Threats

Cybersecurity risks such as ransomware, data breaches, and phishing attacks are concerns for organizations.
  • The rise in cyberattacks requires strategies to protect and recover critical information.

Technology Failures

System outages or hardware failures, both internal and vendor-managed, can disrupt business processes and strategies should include rapid recovery and substitute solutions.

Human Error

Simple mistakes can lead to significant data loss or system downtime and therefore strategies should include considerations to quickly rectify human errors.

Natural Disasters

Events like earthquakes, floods, or hurricanes can devastate physical and IT infrastructure or displace individuals.
  • Therefore, strategies should consider alternative operation modes in these situations.

Pandemics

The recent global events have highlighted the need for a strategy to address the continuity of operations during health crises, including remote work capabilities, health and safety protocols, and communication approaches to manage workforce disruptions. 

⛔ Stop and consider:

  • How are potential risks identified and prioritized in your BCDR strategy?
  • Does your BCDR strategy plan for a diverse range of scenarios?

Why it matters

When faced with a disruption, having a robust BCDR strategy equipped with detailed playbooks can support minimizing organizational impact and enhance precision in crisis response by having:

An Organized Approach

A clear sense of direction and leadership can support an organization to quickly assess what is going on, explain the environment, aid forensics and a quicker recovery.
  • Corvus has found that organizations that are more organized and have a focus on security are able to discover unauthorized access earlier and therefore more likely to decrease the impact of an incident and recover to normal operations faster.

Prompt and Precise Reporting

The efficiency and accuracy of communication of a crisis and bringing the insurer into the conversation can support remediation efforts.
  • When a security breach occurs, policyholders that notify our claims team earlier are able to get assistance throughout the claims process, including ensuring proper investigation, help from cyber experts, and clarity on the steps of the recovery process. This aids in achieving quicker containment and eradication of the threat.

⛔ Stop and consider:

  • How does your BCDR plan align with your cyber insurance coverage? Who is responsible to notify the cyber insurer and when?
  • How do you incorporate threat intelligence, such as Corvus’ Sentinel Alerts, into your BCDR strategy?
  • How is documentation and evidence managed in your plan? 

Start strategizing

Prioritizing your organization’s BCDR strategy is a key aspect of your overall operational strategy. This strategy is not a set-it-and-forget-it task but a dynamic and evolving process that requires regular updates and refinements to stay effective in the face of new risks and changing circumstances. Remember, it’s not just about risk mitigation; it’s about ensuring the continuity and resilience of your organization.

Here is a detailed look at 5 steps you can take to start building your BCDR strategy:

  1. Assess and understand your current risks

    • Begin by conducting an analysis of your organization’s current risk landscape. The goal is to determine what BCDR risks are applicable to your environment and the impact that they would have on operations.
      • For example, what cyber threats does the organization face (e.g., ransomware, data breaches), are there critical systems that, if they fail would cause a significant disruption, is the organization located where certain natural disasters are likely to occur?

  2. Define clear roles and responsibilities and communication plans

    • Establish a dedicated BCDR team within your organization.
      • Assign clear roles and responsibilities, ensuring that every individual understands their part in the event of a disruption, including the point of contacts for internal and external communication.  

  3. Develop and document your BCDR strategy

    • Using the insights from the assessment and through collaboration with the BCDR team, develop a BCDR strategy that addresses the identified risks.
      • Document this strategy, including detailed playbooks for various potential scenarios. The documentation should be tailored to your organization, however, if you are not sure where to start, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides a detailed template that can be a useful reference.

  4. Implement regular training and drills

    • Schedule in advance training sessions and drills for the individuals involved in the BCDR strategy. 
  5. Secure and test your backups

    • Establish a process and assign ownership to ensuring that data backups are secure, tested regularly, and align with your RPO.

If you are a Corvus policyholder or broker partner and not sure how or where to start, email us and request a consultation with our Risk Advisory team. Let Corvus be your partner in navigating cybersecurity challenges and strengthening your BCDR strategy. 

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