When developing business continuity plans, businesses should understand that they actually need two documents: an incident response plan and a disaster recovery plan.

Having an incident response plan means your organization is prepared for possible information security incidents such as a data breach, a system outage, or a security breach. These risks can cause lasting financial and reputational damage, so an ability to respond quickly and skillfully can be crucial to your company’s bottom line.

A disaster recovery plan, in contrast, addresses larger questions about how the organization can resume normal operations after a disaster disrupts your business activities. Incident response plans focus on the incident; disaster recovery plans focus on the whole enterprise.

Developing both plans before a disruption comes along means your management team won’t waste time with prioritization or decision-making when the disruption does arrive. The steps you need to follow are agreed upon, decided, and set in place for everyone to act swiftly.

What Is an Incident Response Plan?

An incident response plan is an organization’s set of procedures and responsibilities in the event of a cyber-related disruption such as a phishing attack or a data breach. The plan will help your incident response team reduce company-wide downtime.

A thorough incident response plan will address the following:

  • Actions and procedures for each step of response to an incident
  • Each department’s roles and responsibilities
  • Key stakeholders who act as leadership during an incident
  • A communication plan for the incident response team and other departments
  • Guidance on any legally required disclosure to the public or regulatory authorities
  • Metrics for capturing the effectiveness of the incident response

An incident response plan should also include a business impact analysis. A business impact analysis identifies which business operations could be disrupted by an incident and what the overall effect on the organization would be. This analysis can help you to prioritize which business processes require the most resources for resuming operations the fastest.

What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan is an organization’s set of procedures and responsibilities in the event of an unforeseen disaster such as a ransomware attack or equipment damage. For example, in the event of a ransomware attack, your disaster recovery plan will help your organization improve recovery time to resume daily business operations.

A disaster recovery plan usually is organized by type of disaster, and has instructions that can be easily followed by anyone within the organization. The instructions should be accessible without specialized department knowledge or training.

The benefits of having a strong disaster recovery plan include:

  • Reduced financial and reputational losses from an unplanned attack
  • Reduced interruption of daily operations
  • Internal staff trained in emergency procedures
  • Quick return of services to endpoint users

How Are Incident Response Plans and Disaster Recovery Plans Different?

The difference between an incident response plan and a disaster recovery plan is in the focus of each one.

Incident response plans are drafted for specific issues: data breach, ransomware attack, phishing attack. They are intended for incident response teams trained in addressing and mitigating known cybersecurity risks.

Disaster recovery plans are drafted for types of disruption: equipment outage, weather disruption, cyber-attack. They are intended for anyone in the organization to use, so his or her team can contribute to resuming normal operations.

Both plans, however, provide pre-approved steps that employees can follow to recover as quickly as possible from a disruption. It’s best for your organization to have both an incident response plan and a disaster recovery plan in place so you’re prepared for the worst of either world.

Make ZenGRC a Part of Your Data Security Plans

Improve your risk management in advance of cyber threats or data loss by installing a streamlined cyber security dashboard for your organization.

ZenGRC from Reciprocity makes creating reports for developing incident response plans an integrated and shareable effort. You’ll have all the metrics and data you need in one place to create a strong business continuity and disaster recovery plan that you can mitigate and improve over time.

Schedule a ZenGRC demo today to learn more.