Disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) is a comprehensive approach to reducing the impact of natural disasters. In the context of cybersecurity, the program aims to effectively reduce the risk of data breaches, data theft, and other cyber attacks and manage the consequences of such disasters.

DRRM informs and supports an organization’s business continuity plan (BCP), an essential program that helps it avoid or minimize the effect of operational disruptions in the event of power outages, IT system failures, and cyber attacks.

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DRRM is a broad concept used by governments and various organizations like the United Nations. We’ll scrutinize it in the succeeding sections using a cybersecurity lens.

Why Is DRRM Important in Cybersecurity?

Adopting DRRM helps organizations become more resilient against cyber threats. That is because like natural disasters, cyber disasters are also unpredictable. They can happen unexpectedly, thus requiring organizations to be ready to respond quickly and minimize the potential damage.

DRRM can help security teams:

  • Reduce the risk of cyber attacks: DRRM can lessen an organization’s exposure to security threats since it involves proactive prevention strategies. That typically includes continuous vulnerability discovery and management, implementing robust security controls, and conducting regular security awareness training for employees.
  • Prepare to respond to security incidents: In the event of cyber attacks, organizations already have a well-defined plan naming who will and how to contain an attack, remove a threat, and restore systems. DRRM also includes regular program testing to identify areas for improvement and using cybersecurity tools, such as intrusion detection systems (IDSs), endpoint protection solutions, and threat intelligence.
  • Minimize the potential damage of cyber attacks: DRRM enables companies to quickly detect and respond to incidents, significantly helping limit their impact. The approach also establishes a recovery plan for data restoration and business continuity, minimizing operational disruption and financial loss.

How to Develop a DRRM Program

These are the general steps in creating a DRRM program, which may differ from one organization to another.

How to Develop a DRRM Program
  1. Assemble a cross-functional disaster recovery team: This group comprises several people from different departments, including the executive management, crisis management, business continuity, and impact assessment and recovery teams.
  1. Define the scope of DRRM: Identify the systems and processes critical to business continuity. Prioritize them based on their acceptable downtime and maximum tolerable data loss. That means asking questions like “How long can this particular system be down before it can cause damage to the business?” and “What is the cost of this much data loss?”
  1. Conduct a thorough risk assessment: Identify potential disaster scenarios that can impact your IT infrastructure, such as natural disasters, cyber attacks, power outages, hardware failures, and human error. Evaluate the potential impact and likelihood of each threat scenario on your critical systems and data.
  1. Define specific recovery strategies: Outline the steps required to restore functionality and minimize data loss for each critical system and dataset. Recovery options include having a secondary site with the necessary infrastructure and using cloud-based backup storage and services.
  1. Create a comprehensive DRRM document: This document should outline the response team’s procedures, roles, responsibilities, and contact information.
  1. Train team members regularly: Ensure everyone understands their roles and actions during a disaster.
  1. Test and review the program: Conduct regular testing of your disaster recovery plan (DRP) through simulations and drills to identify weaknesses and refine your DRRM procedures. Review and update your DRP to reflect changes in your IT infrastructure, threats, and business needs.

How Can Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Reduce Risks?

DRRM may involve different methods to manage identified cyber risks, including:

  • Risk remediation: Remediation efforts aim to eliminate a threat and prevent it from occurring in the first place. It may involve applying security patches or upgrading software to remove vulnerabilities in a system.
  • Risk mitigation: This approach focuses on reducing the likelihood or impact of a potential threat that cannot be eliminated. For example, implementing multifactor authentication (MFA) can reduce the risk of account hacking.
  • Risk transfer: If some risks are unavoidable, organizations may decide to shift some or all of the financial burden to a third party. They can purchase cyber insurance to transfer the financial risk of a cyber attack to an insurance company.

DRRM is a crucial approach for organizations to become more resilient against cyber threats. It’s like preparing for a natural disaster, but for cybersecurity.

Key Takeaways