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Cybersecurity crises are a serious and costly business problem. Employ a preparedness measure in your cybersecurity plan to help mitigate any negative impacts on your business in the event of a cyber crisis.

Why preparedness must be in your overall cybersecurity plan

You don’t leave your office at the end of the day without locking the doors to your business, and you may even have an advanced security system that records and alerts you when an intruder enters your business. That’s because you understand the importance of protecting your files and on-site assets. It’s critical to apply that same level of foresight to your cybersecurity plan to protect your data in a cyber crisis. Many companies have a cybersecurity plan that includes maintenance and management, but are you prepared with a detailed plan should a cybersecurity crisis occur?

Let’s do a quick audit of where your company falls on the crisis management culture ladder. Below are some brief definitions of each stage.

Reactive: When you are in a reactive state, you take swift action only when a crisis occurs.

Calculative: In a calculative state, you do have systems in place to manage a crisis, but this only applies to known problems that can occur.

Proactive: When you are proactive, you are working on and finding issues that could lead to a crisis continuously.

Generative: If your business is generative, you anticipate crisis and identify prevention tactics all the time as a standard operating procedure.

As you step up the ladder, you put yourself in a better position to withstand a potential crisis without significant negative impacts on your company. Your resiliency as a business is a direct reflection of your diligent efforts in crisis management. Are you where you want to be on this ladder as it relates to cybersecurity? If your cybersecurity plan doesn’t include preparedness, you will always be one step behind. Follow the steps below to build an effective plan for cyber crisis preparedness.

How to prepare and implement your cybersecurity crisis management plan

A cybersecurity crisis could cripple many small businesses and, at the very least, damage their reputation among customers and the public. That’s why your cybersecurity plan, and preparedness, is so important. When you have a response plan in place, it allows your organization to respond swiftly and efficiently, so you don’t waste time determining what needs to be done. Your teams can act and minimize the damage of the cybersecurity incident when everything is laid out ahead of time. Here are a few steps that will help direct your approach to craft a cybersecurity preparedness plan.

Establish a team

When a cyber crisis strikes, having a team of individuals with well-defined roles and responsibilities can make the response process run smoothly. The first step of your preparedness plan should be choosing what the roles are and who will be responsible for those tasks in the heat of the moment. Some typical roles within a cybersecurity incident response team include:

  • Information owner: the person who has operational authority over the flow of information and responsibilities is typically the business owner.
  • Incident response manager: the person who leads the response actions in addition to informing employees and any necessary regulatory bodies.
  • Security or IT staff: the individuals who are responsible for your IT management on a day-to-day basis.
  • Volunteers: a few additional employees that assist with any coordination or training in the event of a cyber crisis.

Once these roles are identified and clarified, this team can begin crafting your response plan. It should include professionals that are knowledgeable about your systems and whom you can trust.n

Set parameters that determine a cybersecurity crisis

Cyber “incidents” happen all the time, and often they don’t need the response of the entire team or even warrant an escalation if the issue is addressed correctly. For example, if you notice unusual behavior from an account user, you can manage that directly with the individual rather than sounding the alarm to deploy the entire crisis team. If the cybersecurity event is more significant, like a security breach, then you will want to mobilize the team and your response plan.

The key is to identify which situations constitute a crisis. Everybody should be clear when a full response is necessary to put your plan into effect.

Create an escalation hierarchy

When a cyber crisis does occur, and the proper team members are notified, having a clear escalation hierarchy will determine each person’s tasks and the order in which they must be completed. For example, was customer data exposed? Identify the person who will notify them and/or any other legal entities and how soon this task must be completed following the incident. Having a flowchart can help direct the whole team’s efforts simultaneously while curbing the crisis and managing your reputation.

Determine communication protocols

In the event of a cybersecurity crisis, there will need to be multiple levels of communications sent out from the leadership team. Having predetermined templates can ensure that key individuals are notified promptly. From employees to customers to even media outlets, setting forth communication standards that cover different scenarios can quickly help your information owner get important messages.

The entire team should work together to craft various templates for emails, website communications, and even social media to address any questions or concerns that you anticipate arising from the cyber crisis.

Test your plan

Even the best plans can fail if they aren’t tested properly. This is where real-life simulations can help the team home in on any weak points within the plan and identify areas that can be improved. Your building likely conducts annual fire drills, so everybody knows what to do and where to go should the building catch fire. The same thing should be done for your cyber crisis plan. Walk through the steps and complete them in real-time to ensure everybody has their marching orders if a real crisis happens. This will also test how prepared your team is and help train employees so they can act quickly and take immediate steps when faced with a crisis.

Keep in mind that preparation does not mean prevention

Your security plan likely includes many prevention measures, like antivirus and tiered access levels to key data. Still, it’s important to remember that preparedness is not designed to prevent a cyber crisis. This plan ensures that your business reacts quickly and curbs the crisis before it does too much damage to your company. The faster you can mitigate the problem and communicate to key stakeholders the steps you’re taking to ensure their data’s safety, the better your business will preserve its reputation and withstand the cyberattack. You don’t want to be caught flat-footed when disaster strikes.

Key takeaway: any worthwhile cybersecurity plan needs to include preparedness measures

A cybersecurity crisis is a costly and severe business problem that threatens to impact your company, employees, and customers every day. While you are actively taking steps to try and prevent a cyber crisis from occurring, there may come a day when your prevention measures are unsuccessful, causing your business to suffer a cyberattack.

Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to react. Your cybersecurity plan must include a preparedness section where you outline the response team and each of their responsibilities to manage the crisis proactively. Remember the crisis management culture ladder we went through earlier? Your organization should be generative, anticipating a crisis, and identifying prevention tactics all the time as a standard operating procedure. This is how you will get through a cyber crisis without a severe impact on your business. If you need assistance in drafting a cybersecurity preparedness plan or need training for your response team, the security professionals at Level4 IT are ready to share their knowledge and expertise with your team.

About Us

Level4 IT is a Computer and IT Management company located in Schaumburg, IL. We provide Cloud-IT Services, Computer Management, Server Management, Internet & Cyber Security, Data Backups, Cloud Services, and Technical Support for Small & Midsize Companies.

Our focus is to help businesses stay safe on the internet while providing ongoing Technical Management, Consulting, and Support. We help our clients stay ahead of the competition.

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