5 Things to Include in Your Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery Plan

As per the Varonis Global Data Risk Report for 2021, 13% of all the files and folders; and 15% of sensitive files in an organization are open to everyone. Further, when it comes to the SMEs, only 16% of them have done thorough cybersecurity posture reviews, and that too after encountering an attack.

While organizations across the globe have very little or no preparedness when it comes to cybersecurity, cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. The hackers are assuming more aggressive stances, with more than 30000 websites getting hacked daily in 2021. 

Even the mobile apps ecosystem is highly vulnerable to malicious activities and around 24 thousand mobile apps get blocked daily for being malicious in nature. 

Hence, having a reliable, robust, and thorough cybersecurity strategy and a disaster recovery plan to contain or overcome any cyberattack are two major must-haves for businesses of all scales and all types. 

Below, we discuss the cybersecurity disaster recovery plan at length, explore its goals and share key considerations for creating a foolproof disaster recovery plan. 

Let us get started with a detailed overview of the term itself.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Also referred to as DRP, a disaster recovery plan is a step-wise process you follow to resume the normal state of business operations and processes after an organizational disaster has occurred. In the context of cybersecurity, the disaster can be of multiple types, such as breach, theft or loss of data, data hijacking, loss of sensitive data, virus attack, cybercrime, cyberattack, etc. 

So, the primary objective of a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan is to protect the organizational data and assets after a security mishap has happened. You can also understand it as a stealthy approach to collect and preserve evidence, and root causes analysis of the security incident. 

However, this is not the only task, as you have to ensure many other things once a security issue is identified, such as:

  • Minimizing the exposure 
  • Preventing further data and resource loss
  • System and network degradation to curb the proliferation and escalation of security attacks
  • Restoring the system back to its normal operational state

These tasks are also the goals of every disaster recovery plan. We discuss more such goals in detail in the sections ahead. 

Finally, you also have to manage, monitor, update and track the cybersecurity disaster recovery plan to maintain a strong and foolproof security posture. 

A simple visual representation of the common steps and processes involved in a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan is shown below:

Cybersecurity disaster data recovery plan


Now that we understand what a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan is, let us move on to discuss its various goals.

Goals for Disaster Recovery Plan 

Before we proceed to discuss the goals of a cybersecurity recovery plan, it is important to understand that disaster recovery is disjoint from business continuity. While business continuity also becomes important and requires proper remediation after a cybersecurity disaster, disaster recovery purely focuses on the IT and management aspects of the disaster. 

So, the goals of a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan are built keeping the effects and recurrence of such disasters in mind, and comprise:

  • Managing, monitoring, protecting, and tracking the IT inventory, such as hardware, applications, data, processes, connectivity, etc. 
  • Updating and refining IT strategies for protection against future disasters
  • Updating and refining disaster recovery strategies 
  • Updating organizational disaster and risk register 
  • Disaster recovery and contingency planning 
  • Testing the system for any remnant effects or loopholes
  • Addressing employee, investor, client, and customer concerns with appropriate communication
  • Audit (third-party, security, or complete) and maintenance operations to restore the desired or ideal organizational state

While we have outlined some common goals of a disaster recovery plan, you must note that these objectives and activities change across the businesses and operation ecosystems. 

Some specific industries, such as finance and healthcare might need more thorough and complex activities and goals. On the other hand, SMEs working in non-vulnerable sectors, such as lifestyle blogs, coaching, etc. don't require too technical goals. 

Next, we discuss 5 key considerations for creating a robust, reliable, and thorough cybersecurity disaster recovery plan.

Good Read: 7 Best Practices for Effective Third-Party Cyber Risk Management

5 Things to Include in Your Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery Plan

5 Things to Include in Your Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery Plan

Irrespective of the scale and type of business organization you have, the following five key considerations are a must for your cybersecurity disaster recovery plan. 

1) Set Recovery Time Objective

Recovery Time Objective or RTO is the maximum time you consider acceptable for your business system or operations being down in the light of a cybersecurity disaster. While the ideal case scenario calls for waiting until all the damages of a disaster are done and no new recurrences are expected, we live in the real world!

And, no business can afford to be down for very long.

Hence, you set an RTO as a maximum tolerable outage that your company can endure without causing significant damage to your clients, employees, customers, and asset clusters.

You need to create different RTO categories, as some business operations and processes are definitely going to require a longer recovery time than others.

Important factors to keep in mind for determining RTO include:

  • Cost/benefit analysis 
  • Outage and mitigation costs
  • The complexity of the recovery process
  • Processes and time that were taken by the IT department to restore the business activities to normal
  • Prioritizing the applications, processes, and assets for strategic recovery 

2) Identify Personnel Roles

Just like a risk management plan, a cybersecurity disaster recovery plan has clear-cut personnel roles and responsibilities for every member considered relevant and reliable for disaster management and containment. 

These roles and responsibilities will ensure that your team is aggressively working on the solution and disaster containment activities, instead of being in a state of panic or frenzy. Also, when every individual has a role assigned, task delegation ensures proper and systemic handling of the various impacts ha disaster brings with itself. 

3) Take Inventory of Hardware and Software

Now that the task delegation is done, you need to work on your hardware and software inventory to gauge three things:

  • Available resources - You will need them for disaster management, containment, and resetting the entire system gracefully.
  • Lost resources - You need to be aware of the data, resources, and network nodes that are no longer available, damaged, compromised, or hijacked.
  • Hijacked resources - Once you confirm that some of your resources (software and hardware) are hijacked, you have to take the necessary actions, such as consulting a reputed security solutions provider, waiting for the ransomware perpetrator, etc. 

A thorough analysis of your hardware and software inventory allows you to gain vision into the current situation and present data-backed facts to every stakeholder, such as employees, clients, and customers, with proper abstraction. 

4) Outline Response Procedures

No cybersecurity disaster recovery plan is complete without a detailed outlining of various recovery procedures to be followed in any situation. 

Now, when you are initially compiling your cybersecurity disaster recovery plan, you don't have much historic information to rely upon, and you have to think of all the things that could go wrong!

Hence, it is an exhaustive activity that requires a thorough analysis of your security posture, business model, operations, network, etc. So, we recommend consulting some reputed security solutions providers or cybersecurity consultants, such as Appknox to create a highly precise and immaculate set of response procedures. 

5) Create a Crisis Communication Plan

Finally, it is important to have a crisis communication strategy that you can follow to keep all the business stakeholders informed and on alert. Otherwise, they can get panicked, or swayed by your lack of initiative, and might also entirely stop doing business with you. 

Some common examples include:

  • Sending emails to your employees on personal inboxes to convey the outage, and the predicted up-time. 
  • Depending on the severity of the matter, you might or might not choose to share the actual incident. 
  • Communicate with your clients and customers with as much alacrity and readiness as you can. 

Take a look at how Amazon keeps its customers pacified even during major outages, such as the infamous Amazon Prime Day:

Amazon 404 page


Creating a Foolproof Cybersecurity Disaster Recovery Plan: Alacrity, Preparedness, and Right Expertise

While it is impossible to avoid risks, or security disasters coming your way, creating reliable and robust plans to contain and overcome the situation is a surefire way to emerge as a winner. 

Now, one major mistake that you can make is creating a disaster recovery plan and totally forgetting it until you meet a disaster. Always remember, you need to update, revise, and improve your disaster recovery plans consistently. This is because the technology is evolving at a rapid pace and so are the hackers!

So, your alacrity and preparedness are the two must-haves for an infallible disaster recovery plan.

Finally, you must have the right expertise, such as Appknox to maintain a strong security posture and ensure recovery with minimum losses every time. With its impeccably robust testing and consulting offerings.

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Published on Feb 17, 2022
Harshit Agarwal
Written by Harshit Agarwal
Harshit Agarwal is the co-founder and CEO of Appknox, a mobile security suite that helps enterprises automate mobile security. Over the last decade, Harshit has worked with 500+ businesses ranging from top financial institutions to Fortune 100 companies, helping them enhance their security measures.
Beyond the tech world, Harshit loves adventure. When he's not busy making sure the digital realm is safe, he's out trekking and exploring new destinations.


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