By Wesley Bard
Senior Director, IT Risk & Compliance at Network Solutions
I’m a planner and organizer in almost every way. As an aeronautical engineer that once designed fighter jets, I had to pay attention to every minute detail – after all, lives depended on it. I bring that same sense of preparation and order to my current position as the Senior Director of IT Risk and Compliance at Network Solutions. But as we’ve recently experienced during the coronavirus crisis, the wellbeing of even the most organized businesses can be unexpectedly and negatively affected by unforeseen events.
As a fellow IT professional, you have undoubtedly been affected by recent happenings. Maybe you had to deal with meeting the needs of a suddenly remote workforce to ensure employees had everything necessary to complete their tasks. On top of this, you understand the importance of balancing sound security practices and principles. I can relate to all of this. Thankfully, I wasn’t on my own to make these decisions and had good guidance because of security incident response planning.
You probably have a contingency plan in place too but might not have had time to practice or refine it. Let’s be honest, I’m not sure anything could have fully prepared us for the recent challenges we’ve faced. But whether you are dealing with a pandemic, a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado or even a theft, there are ways to enhance your security incident response plan to help you and your organization be as prepared as possible. Here are some ways to make that happen.
The coronavirus has taught us a lot about the need to be prepared for going weeks or even months without physical resources or other items you might normally have uninterrupted access to. Simply put, you have to be ready for anything. That’s why your security incident response plan is invaluable to your organization.
This plan is a living entity that requires constant reviews and updates to ensure you and your team are as ready as possible for unforeseen circumstances. Now is a great time to take a fresh look at the plan you have in place and make any necessary changes so that everyone in your organization understands their responsibilities and is always ready to take action.
Focus on Redundancy
Server and physical asset redundancy is key to managing any security incident. Identify all your critical pieces of infrastructure and make sure you have a strong backup plan in place.What if your mail server went down? What if you had a ransomware attack that affected your C-suite’s laptops? What if a hurricane hit one of your data centers and you had to power down all your assets in that data center for a week? Redundancy planning will be critical to your success.
Simulate Various Scenarios
Simulate security incident scenarios and conduct exercises to determine how long it would take to bring your business back online if you lost a key piece of infrastructure. Are those downtimes acceptable? If not, start designing plans and weighing the additional costs, procedures and support that you would need to be able to bring your business back online in a timely manner.
Follow the National Institute of Standards and Technology Guidelines
A robust, well-defined and well-practiced security incident response plan will be invaluable to you as an IT professional in responding to any work stoppages. The National Institute of Standards and Technology lists the following five steps an IT pro needs to follow in responding to an incident or disaster:
When dealing with a disaster, you will likely be spending less time on steps one through three than you would in a traditional online security incident and more time on responding and recovering.
A security incident response plan is crucial to your organization and it should define key players and assign specific responsibilities. Everyone needs to have clear and defined actions and it is imperative that everyone is marching towards the same goals when recovering from a work stoppage of any kind.
Test Your Plan
While most organizations have some form of Security Incident Plan in place, some fail to put it to the test before dealing with a challenge. Conduct tabletop planning exercises and make sure everyone is ready to act. Contemplate various scenarios – hurricanes, tornadoes, pandemics and civil unrest – as a group and practice in detail what actions you will collectively take to restore your business or organization.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned during this pandemic is the need for clear communication. Whether it is to customers or employees, a constant and open dialogue is critical to managing your business and your relationships through any change in your business pattern and especially during extraordinary circumstances like these.
Security is also a critical factor that has come to light. In regard to a remote workforce, are your networks and systems set up to run from a location outside of your physical location? If they are, that’s great but how secure is your plan? We are seeing an increase in cyberattacks during the pandemic and learning to take measures to defend against cybersecurity incidents will help you be better prepared for the future.
The coronavirus has been an extreme test for most businesses. Learning from this seemingly unprecedented situation will ensure you have an even better security incident response plan for future obstacles and unexpected events.
Network Solutions is well equipped to help you and your organization prepare for risks now and in the future. All of our website packages include website hosting on redundant cloud servers. If one server fails for any reason, your site data will be quickly shifted to another server so there is little to no website downtime.
Our website plans also include a secure connection and guaranteed privacy protection to safeguard your personal data. Most importantly, your website files will be backed up every day, meaning that your website can be quickly and efficiently restored in the event of any unforeseen cyberattacks or other obstacles.
As we’ve seen so clearly illustrated lately, no one knows what the future holds. The good news is that you can plan for the unexpected. A security incident response plan is one of your most important resources in times of company crisis, so I encourage you to carefully review the plan you have in pace now and take measures to make it even better for the future.