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How to Create a Ransomware-Ready Disaster Recovery Plan

Data disasters come in all shapes and forms, and enterprises need to have multi-layered contingencies in place. 

A good enterprise disaster recovery plan protects against a wide variety of scenarios. It must ensure business continuity – or provide a plausible roadmap for it – in case of natural disasters, human errors, and malicious cyberattacks. 

From a disaster recovery perspective, there isn’t a huge difference between losing office functionality because the building is flooded or having to isolate the same office due to an active ransomware attack. The particulars can (and should) vary, but the overall strategy follows a similar contour. 

In both cases, impacted systems need to be isolated to contain the damage. Backup systems will activate in their place, and users will continue their work in the backup environment. If those backup systems contain current data and have sufficient resources to run enterprise IT infrastructure, the organization can continue running almost as if nothing was wrong at all. 

Disaster Recovery Is an Exercise in Risk Management 

There is a significant difference between recovering from a natural disaster and ensuring business continuity in the wake of a ransomware attack. Cybercriminals carry out attacks with specific tactics, techniques, and procedures to achieve a strategic goal. If one approach fails, they may attempt another. Your organization must be equipped to detect and deny those activities just as persistently. 

Preparation is key to successful disaster recovery. Organizations that have robust, multi-layered solutions in place can continue business as usual even while under active attack from advanced, persistent threats. 

Preparing for these events successfully demands a sophisticated approach to risk management. An organization can only afford to invest so much time, money, and employee hours into its security posture. Security and IT leaders need to optimize their disaster recovery approach to protect against ransomware risks while mitigating the damage of attacks that do manage to get through. 

A strong security posture makes carrying out a persistent cyberattack difficult, risky, and expensive. The more challenging it is for cybercriminals to get away with stolen data, the more likely they are to pass on the opportunity and look elsewhere. 

Think About Scenario Outcomes First 

A ransomware attack scenario typically leaves victims with two choices.  

  • The first choice is paying whatever sum hackers demand in order to keep the business running and hoping they don’t come back. Unfortunately, they have every motivation to come back whenever they want. 
  • The second choice is to refuse to pay. If the organization has a robust disaster recovery plan in place, it can save itself from catastrophic failure. Otherwise, going out of business is a real possibility. 

Cybercriminals know how disaster recovery solutions work and will try everything they can to prevent their victims from using them. That’s why secure cloud-based backup systems require complex architecture and multi-layered defenses. Vendor-supported recovery strategies can help distribute the cost of building secure infrastructure and reduce the risk of recovery failure. 

IT leaders and security professionals who work through attack scenarios and identify ideal outcomes gain critical insight into the way their organization’s disaster recovery plan needs to work. By starting with ransomware attack scenario outcomes and working backward from there, deploying an optimized disaster recovery solution at an efficient price point becomes possible. 

However, no organization should depend entirely on one technology or solution to protect itself against cyberattacks. Multiple technologies must work together to form a cost-effective defense made up of several different layers. 

Ransomware Does Not Announce Itself – Until It's Too Late 

When most people think of ransomware, they imagine rows of office workstations suddenly encrypting themselves and displaying pixelated pirate flags. By the time attackers gain the ability to trigger encryption and demand money, the attack itself has already hit its end stage. Unauthorized activities may have been happening for weeks or months without anyone noticing. 

Proactive threat detection and response helps security professionals identify and block ransomware attacks well before they get a chance to cause severe damage. Tools like Exabeam and Palo Alto Cortex can provide early warning when suspicious activities or connections occur, giving IT personnel a head start on incident response. 

This early warning could be an unexpected connection to another country, or newly created accounts attempting to grant themselves network privileges. When security analysts have time to pull at these threads and investigate their source, the organization gains valuable time to mitigate the potential damage and ensure business continuity throughout the event. 

Start Building a Multi-Layered Defense for Your Organization 

Your organization must be able to recover mission-critical systems from secured backups, but there is more to this process than comparing recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. The earlier your security team can identify suspicious behavior, the better equipped it will be to mitigate the associated risks.  

Castra is a managed detection and response vendor that specializes in providing early detection of cybersecurity breaches. Our 24x7 security operations center combines sophisticated technology with human expertise to help enterprise security teams build robust defenses and guide them through security incidents successfully. 

 

Make sure your business is prepared with a strong security posture and recovery plan. Discover how Castra can help.