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Cybersecurity In-Depth

4 min read
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Test Your Team, Not Just Your Disaster Recovery Plan

Cyberattacks imperil business continuity, but there is a much more common security threat — unintentional human error.

Disaster recovery (DR) plans have evolved into a central mechanism for safeguarding today's enterprises against the rising threat of cybercrime and natural disasters. With 86% of global businesses expecting to be victims of a cyberattack within the next 12 months, putting their DR plan to the test before a disaster strike is critical.

Sadly, however, DR testing is not being prioritized as highly as it used to be. This is because data center professionals are stretched thin and don't have the time or tools to test more frequently.

DR testing matters because the recovery process is based not only on your recovery procedures, but on coordination, collaboration, and sequencing of your internal team members. The structures put in place must be maintained across storage, network, applications, databases, and other remote working platforms.

While cyber threats can put a huge strain on a business' productivity and ability to quickly restore data, there is a much more common, yet overlooked, security threat — unintentional human error. In fact, Verizon's "2021 Data Breach Investigations Report" found during the pandemic, 85% of all data breaches resulted from a human element. Automated DR detection software can be useful in identifying odd behaviors and signs of a breach in a disaster environment. However, the first line of defense is always a business' employees.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Disaster recovery plans need to include policies, tools, and procedures to facilitate the recovery and restoration of important technology infrastructure and systems following a disruptive event. Disasters can be caused by any number of factors — everything from weather to hardware failures to cybercrimes to human error.

Planning ahead helps businesses determine the best strategy to combat the threat of disasters and reduce any downtime as a result. With the number of attack vectors continually expanding, DR plans are essential for business continuity.

The Human Side of Technology
It is an inescapable truth that data loss will occur as a result of human error, so all organizations must remain vigilant and educate their employees on how to best mitigate these events. In fact, according to a 2021 data protection report, 22% of data loss is caused by human error.

The most common reasons cyber breaches occur include email misdelivery, accidental deletion, poor IT hygiene, data corruption, and outdated security training for employees. What's the connection? They can all be minimized through employee training, strict internal policies, and a more comprehensive understanding of today's cybersecurity landscape.

Preventing Data Loss From Human Error
Reducing human error should not be reactive. Proactive measures should be put in place to ensure an immediate response and decrease total data loss when faced with disasters. Employee training, internal regulations, and job design are some effective controls businesses can use.

A recent study from training firm KnowBe4 showed that 55% of workers received little to no cybersecurity training once the pandemic started. Whether it's part of a holistic IT strategy or separate, organizations should be educating all staff on safe practices when online — particularly those working remotely. This can greatly reduce the risks of data loss caused by ransomware or other forms of malware.

As important as getting non-IT staff well-trained in cybersecurity, every member of a business IT team should regularly undertake training and upskilling drills. IT teams play critical roles in enforcing a DR plan and keeping the system available and accessible in emergencies. A comprehensive understanding and analysis of the cyber landscape is essential to implementing the most efficient and effective recovery plan.

Employees need to understand the organization's best practice policies — limiting file access, using strong passwords and authentication, promoting good back-up habits, using a secure network, and performing routine cyber hygiene checks. These measures, in combination with the right IT strategy, greatly minimize the risk of incidents caused by human error.

The Importance of the Human Touch
While automated DR tests serve an important purpose, they test only the technical component of a DR plan. In the event of a real disaster, staff will also need to work quickly and expertly to get systems back up and running. Conducting both simulated and physical tests in advance will help ensure your team is prepared to execute against your policies and procedures. This is an area where silos or "teams vs. individuals" mentalities have no place.

Employees can — and should — be your biggest asset in a disaster. Putting the time and effort into upskilling staff ahead of time can mean the difference between surviving and thriving.