Disaster recovery still not getting the love it needs

Posted on May 02, 2018


What keeps business leaders up at night? These days, the answer increasingly is cybercrime. But research suggests that by focusing too much on cyber attack prevention rather than cure, business leaders are failing to maximise overall IT resilience.

Growing danger

This year for the first time, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Report includes cybercrime among its top five global risks in terms of likelihood. And in a recent business confidence survey, cyber attacks topped the list of the threats most feared by UK business executives.

That the problem is receiving so much attention comes as no surprise, given the sheer scale of it. By some predictions, global annual cyber-crime costs will reach $US6 trillion annually by 2021.

Ransomware rampant

Ransomware in particular is a rapidly growing threat. Attacks have doubled over the past year alone, and ransomware is now the single most prevalent form of malicious code detected.

British cyber-security firm Sophos says of the hundreds of thousands of new pieces of malware it detects every day, over 80 percent are now ransomware.

“It’s staggering,’’ says Ashley Wearne, Sophos GM for Australia and New Zealand. “It’s now on a different scale to anything we’ve ever seen. When we first started seeing these types of things, they were annoyances driven by pimply teenagers.

“Now, you have groups of people who are incredibly smart – some of the smartest people in the world – doing this to make a fortune, and they’re using tools at the level of those developed by the (US government’s) National Security Agency.”

Targeting critical business systems

Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report warns cyber criminals are increasingly using ransomware attacks to target critical business systems such as servers rather than desktops, as they are more valuable and generate more profits as extortion targets.

Increasingly too, attackers understand the effectiveness of data back-ups when it comes to counteracting ransomware, and so many recent strains specifically target back-up files and back-up software.

The bill for a successful ransomware attack can be huge, including not only possible ransom payouts but also lost data, downtime, decreased productivity, forensic investigations, reputational harm and employee training to prevent further attacks.

Resilience essential

Of course, cyber criminals are not the only threat to IT systems. The impact of human error, or hardware or software failure, can be just as significant, so all businesses need strategies to restore the lifeblood of their operations – their mission-critical data – in the event of a catastrophe.

A comprehensive IT resilience strategy requires both a security plan and a disaster recovery plan. As ISO/IEC 27031, the global standard for IT business continuity planning, states: “Strategies should define the approaches to implement the required resilience so that the principles of incident prevention, detection, response, recovery and restoration are put in place.”

Uninterrupted IT

Achieving the ultimate goal – uninterrupted IT – demands such a multi-faceted approach, investing in both preventative and restorative strategies. But research shows that many businesses make the mistake of focusing too much of their resources on preventing cyber attacks, and not enough on recovering from one.

The perfect disaster plan would allow executives to sleep soundly at night, confident that should the worst case occur and production systems fail, a back-up solution would automatically take over without a single packet of data lost or second of downtime.

Of course this is seldom affordable, or even possible, but any IT disaster recovery plan should start with a risk assessment and business impact analysis, from where a realistic and achievable recovery point objective and recovery time objective can be established.

An example of best practice could be: ensuring your business has a written plan for disaster recovery; following the 3-2-1 rule (have three copies of data, use two different types of storage, and store at least one of those copies off-site); testing your plan consistently; and updating it regularly.  

Speak to Vocus about how our expert teams can design a disaster recovery solution to suit your needs and budget.

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