Preparing for Cyber Attacks: The Importance of Contingency Strategies, Backup Plans, and Employee Training

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In our modern era of constant connectivity, the leaders of organizations bear a profound responsibility: safeguarding the valuable assets and resources residing within their information systems. The ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats has elevated this responsibility to a paramount level, demanding comprehensive strategies to protect against intruders. While many organizational leaders acknowledge this need, they often grapple with the complexity of cybersecurity, lacking the necessary technical background to make informed decisions.

One fundamental truth leaders must grasp is that achieving absolute protection for an organization’s networked systems is an unattainable goal. Regardless of the array of security measures and detection systems deployed, the reality remains that no system is immune to determined attackers. Nevertheless, the key to resilience lies in preparation, assuming that an attack is not a question of “if” but “when.” Therefore, organizations must proactively take measures to mitigate risks and minimize potential damage.

This article delves into the essential components of a holistic approach to securing organizational information systems. It underscores the significance of business continuity planning, the importance of robust system backups, network fortification, well-defined breach response protocols, and the crucial role of user education in defending against cyber threats. By comprehending and implementing these strategies, organizational leaders can reinforce their defenses and substantially reduce the impact of cyberattacks.

In a phenomenal article by AMUEdge, Dr. Kenneth Williams wrote, “Organizational leaders are expected to conduct due diligence in order to protect valuable resources and assets within their information systems. While many leaders clearly understand this need and their responsibilities, very few have the expertise and technological background to make an informed decision about how to actually protect their systems from intruders.

Leaders must first understand that an organization’s networked systems can never be 100 percent protected from attackers. No matter how many detection systems or proactive measures are installed to protect a network, there is no guarantee against intrusion.

The best way for an organization to protect itself is to prepare as if the network is going to be attacked. Then, the organization can take measures to mitigate the risk by developing strong contingency plans and instituting comprehensive backup and restoration measures to minimize data loss.

Creating Business Continuity Plans

Business continuity planning is the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to maintain business operations during a catastrophic event like a data breach or ransomware invasion. By creating contingency plans, an organization mitigates its risk and minimizes the loss of critical assets if an attack were to happen.

A continuity strategy should be planned and developed at the highest echelons of the organization and implemented throughout the organization. To begin, leaders must ask themselves some important questions, including:

In addition to developing detailed contingency plans that address those questions, it is vital for an organization to regularly review and practice these plans. Organizations should:

Organizational System Backup Considerations

While a contingency plan defines how the organization will operate during an attack, the organization must also take steps to minimize the potential loss of data and other information after an attack. The organization must have an effective backup plan in place to rapidly restore service following a cyberattack.

An organization’s backup strategy will depend on its operational priorities, as well as on its size and specific operational environment. For example, small organizations with limited networks can use digital devices such as thumb drives or DVDs to store important files, while larger organizations should consider online resources such as redundant arrays of independent disks (RAID), automatic failover, server clustering, or mirrored systems.

Organizational leaders should talk to their IT department about its backup strategy and ask questions such as:

When Are Backups Conducted?

It’s also important to clarify how and when network backups will occur. Regular backups of company data should be conducted either once a day or once a week, and usually during hours when the data and network are not in use, such as around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Selecting a time when the system is not in use will lessen the chance that it will cause interruptions to regular business processes. There are three common methods for conducting backups:

  1. Full backup: This captures all files on
the disks and occurs on a single medium. The time required for a full backup is greater than that of incremental or differential backup but ensures greater accuracy. Due to the associated time and cost, a full backup is usually performed during the initial phases or following a data restoration.
  2. Incremental backup: This captures files created or changed since the last backup and requires less time and cost to run than a full backup. One issue with this technique is the need to use different devices during recovery. For example, if differential backups are captured on different devices, such as a tape and
a USB drive, recovering the data will require access to each media separately.
  3. Differential backup: This type of backup is the storage of data since the last full backup, which occurs following a full backup, and is faster and less costly than a full backup. This type is considered slower than an incremental backup but offers a faster recovery time. During recovery, a differential backup only requires the use of the full backup device and the differential backup.

Best Practices for Hardening a Network against a Cyberattack

Organizational leaders should also verify
that their IT department is following best practices when it comes to hardening a network. Leaders should confirm the following recommendations are being followed:

  1. Select, purchase, and install all system hardware, software, and licenses.
  2. Verify the installation of antivirus software on all computers and turn on automatic updates.
  3. Configure all computers to use junk e-mail filtering and install spam filtering on the mail server.
  4. Turn on automatic software updates for all computers.
  5. Locate the server in a locked room with controlled access.
  6. Institute backup and restoration procedures across the entire organization. Implement daily backups with a full backup conducted weekly. Store the backed-up data in a location outside of the organization’s geographical area.
  7. Configure services on the server to enforce strong passwords of at least 10 characters with at least two uppercase characters, two lowercase characters, two numerals, and two special characters.
  8. Configure individual computers to log users out after a five-minute period of idleness so that those users are required to log back on.

Data Breach Considerations

All organizations should operate under the assumption that a data breach will happen and create a plan to respond to an intrusion. Here are questions to ask your IT department about its breach response policies:

  1. What’s our breach containment procedure?
Upon detection of a breach, the
organization should immediately
  2. How will you notify
affected individuals?
The incident response team should be notified first, followed by affected managers and personnel. activate its designated incident response team. These initial steps will help the organization contain the spread of the virus to other networked systems and limit additional loss of data.
  3. How will you evaluate the risk
of the breach?
Upon detecting a breach, an organization needs to immediately and thoroughly evaluate the risks associated with the breach, including who was affected and what harm was done.
  4. How will you conduct a review of the incident to help you prepare for future breaches?
After the incident has been addressed and remedied, it is important for IT staff to have policies in place to learn from the situation. They must evaluate how the organization responded to the incident and work to refine and prepare for future breaches.

User Education Considerations

Organizations should also plan for robust
user awareness training. The importance of training should not be ignored, as it is common knowledge that human error is considered
the greatest threat to organizations’ information systems.

All users should receive training in critical areas, including incident handling, disaster recovery, securing data at rest, phishing, and safe home computing. This training will educate users on the importance of security, the proper handling of passwords, laptop security, virus prevention, safe internet browsing, and consequences for unsafe and illegal actions.”

How To Train Employees Within a Business Continuity Plan

In an article by Chron, they wrote, “A business continuity plan provides details on how to recover from a disaster. It includes planning information for handling your business facilities, employees, and information technology infrastructure in the event of an emergency.

Communicate effectively in response to natural or man-made crises by preparing ahead. To continue operating your business or to restore operations quickly, ensure your staff can execute the plan.

Schedule training exercises within your business continuity plan to maximize awareness. Three types of training (plan review, role-playing activities, and simulated dry runs) validate your business continuity plan. Plan to run training events at least once a year or more if your business conditions change more frequently.

Distribute your business continuity plan, prepared using standards such as those available from the National Institute of Standards and Technology throughout your organization. Ask employees to read the document and look for errors, missing components, and inconsistencies while they are learning about the plans.

In addition to being able to identify the scope of your plan, your employees should be able to assess the effects of a disaster on their work. Ensuring your employees can quantify the financial impact of a destructive event also contributes to your company’s overall risk management plan.

Ensure each employee is prepared to act appropriately by scheduling training sessions, which include role-playing activities. Allow employees to demonstrate whether they know their duties in the event of an emergency. Role-playing scenarios should include preventing events, discovering issues, and correcting problems.

Simulate a disaster to test your company’s ability to respond. These events can be scheduled or launched as a surprise. Establish a realistic scenario that is neither too difficult nor too simplistic.

You can determine your organization’s readiness by trying to move to an alternate location, using backup equipment, and implementing your disaster recovery procedures. Simulations also uncover shortcomings in your plans and your true ability to meet your recovery objectives.

Document your company’s training results and incorporate appropriate changes into your business continuity plan. This ensures your company’s long-term success.”

We hope we’ve addressed the critical importance of preparing for cyberattacks by putting contingency and backup plans in place. In today’s highly connected world, organizational leaders are responsible for protecting their valuable assets and resources from cyber threats. While complete protection against cyberattacks is unattainable, the key to resilience lies in preparation.

As a recap, the essential components of a holistic cybersecurity strategy are…

Business Continuity Planning: Organizations must create comprehensive business continuity plans that outline how the business will operate during catastrophic events, such as data breaches or ransomware attacks. Leaders need to identify critical systems and interconnections, assess technology, and develop alternative systems for maintaining operations.

System Backup Strategies: An effective backup plan is crucial for minimizing data loss during and after a cyberattack. Let’s explore various backup strategies, including redundancy, mirroring, and the use of different storage devices. We’ll also discuss the importance of regular backups and choosing the right backup method (full, incremental, or differential).

Network Hardening: Organizational leaders should ensure that their IT departments follow best practices for network hardening. This includes selecting, purchasing, and installing hardware and software, configuring antivirus and spam filtering, using strong passwords, and implementing security measures to protect against power loss.

Data Breach Response: Organizations should operate under the assumption that a data breach will occur and develop a plan to respond effectively. We’ll suggest steps for breach containment, notification, risk assessment, and incident review.

User Education: Human error is a significant threat to information systems, so we’ll stress the importance of user awareness training. Employees should receive training in incident handling, disaster recovery, securing data, recognizing phishing attempts, safe browsing, and password management.

We also discussed the significance of communication within a business continuity plan, emphasizing the need to train employees effectively to execute the plan and conduct training exercises regularly.
Remember that while absolute protection against cyberattacks is not possible, organizations can enhance their resilience by proactively preparing for potential threats through contingency planning, robust backup strategies, network hardening, breach response planning, and user education. These measures collectively reduce the impact of cyberattacks and help organizations maintain business continuity in the face of evolving cyber threats.

At Adaptive Office Solutions, cybersecurity is our specialty. We keep cybercrimes at bay by using analysis, forensics, and reverse engineering to prevent malware attempts and patch vulnerability issues. By making an investment in multilayered cybersecurity, you can leverage our expertise to boost your defenses, mitigate risks, and protect your data with next-gen IT security solutions.

Every device connecting to the internet poses a cyber security threat, including that innocent-looking smartwatch you’re wearing. Adaptive’s wide range of experience and certifications fills the gaps in your business’s IT infrastructure and dramatically increases the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture.

Using our proactive cybersecurity management, cutting-edge network security tools, and comprehensive business IT solutions, you can lower your costs through systems that are running at their prime, creating greater efficiency and preventing data loss and costly downtime. With Adaptive Office Solutions by your side, we’ll help you navigate the complexities of cybersecurity so you can achieve business success without worrying about online threats.

To schedule a Cyber Security Risk Review, call the Adaptive Office Solutions’ hotline at 506-624-9480 or email us at