There’s no mistakes about it – cyber security drills are necessary.
When an unforeseen situation occurs, you would want the personnel with key passwords to be contactable, the firewall working properly, your cloud service provider to be available, and backups ready to be used. These things can only be achieved if you have a solid disaster recovery plan in place.
When It Hits the Fan…
Some people make the mistake of treating cyber security preparedness as just another checklist. They may have the mindset that they need to check off one item after another, e.g. disaster preparedness plan, off-site cloud failover, firewall, backups, etc. But these things mean nothing until they are tested under real-world conditions or through simulations. In other words, it is hard to know that everything will work the way it is intended to until “it” hits the fan. So, start establishing a breach response plan before it is too late.
Panic Leads to Chaos
Even if you have the latest technology in place, it is only half the battle won. When disaster strikes, people start to panic. Under these stressful conditions, they may forget what they are supposed to do, lines of communication start to break down, and mistakes pile up because everyone is in such a rush. That’s why conventional disaster preparedness plans quickly become obsolete as infrastructure tends to be reconfigured and people are moved around.
Real Life Experiences Count
Most humans do not assess risks in a comprehensive manner. Oftentimes, there is the mindset that if nothing bad has happened yet, there is no cause for worry. As a result, many data centers do not practice disaster drills at all, only practice for a small subset of the disasters they might face or do them infrequently. This happens because they may feel that drills are disruptive. They are afraid to involve all of the stakeholders, suppliers, partners, key customers, and data center staff. This sort of thinking has to stop! Drills can help you uncover problems that are costly or difficult to solve. After identifying potential problems, you can prioritize them, fix them, or develop work-around strategies.
It Does Not Need to be a Full-Scale Attack
Yes, that’s right. Drills do not necessarily have to be simulated as full-scale attacks. They should be more about attack simulation tests, e.g. running through one or more vectors of DDoS attacks. Next, you may choose to increase their scope and complexity. These exercises will ensure that your team members know what they are supposed to do and that every element in your response plan is in place.
Cast a Wider Net of Scenarios
It is recommended that you cast a wide net of scenarios. This allows you to uncover potential blind spots in your cyber attack response plans. In addition to testing your resilience to DDoS attacks and the effectiveness of your backups, your data center should also be prepared to face malware attacks and data breaches. These attacks have become distressingly common. Ensure that you also have countermeasures against power outages, cooling system failures, router failures, and server failures.
Don’t Limit Cyber Security Drills to Technical Personnel
Remember, everyone needs to be on the same page. So, don’t limit disaster response drills to just technical personnel. Senior business executives, for example, should participate. You may never know when a disaster can affect your company’s reputation. These executives may come under the spotlight during times of an attack. That’s not all. PR personnel may need to be involved if there are legal, compliance, and bad publicity issues to handle. If you have an in-house security team, you will need to prepare up-to-date contact information for law enforcement agencies, specialized forensic firms, cyber security insurance firms, and more.