The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dramatically increased the threat of cyberwar, prompting many organizations to reconsider their protocols, technology and the security measures that are in place to protect digital assets and networks (among other things.)
A robust, well-designed security strategy is a good start, but when a problem arises, an IT crisis response team will play a critical role. So if you are wondering, “Does my business really need an IT crisis response team?” the answer is “yes, absolutely.”
What is an IT Crisis Response Team?
IT crisis response teams are composed of individuals from several different divisions or sectors within the organization. The following people may be included as team members:
- In-house IT team leaders;
- Operations supervisors / leaders;
- Sales the marketing managers; and
- Company leadership and stakeholders.
It is also common for independent consultants to join the IT crisis response team, filling in knowledge gaps. These third-party contractors may include security experts or public relations (PR) specialists.
Each organization is unique, so the composition of an IT crisis management team may differ slightly to accommodate a company’s unique needs.
What Does an IT Crisis Response Team Actually Do?
An IT crisis response team has a few objectives, ranging from response to damage control and prevention of future crises. Here is a look at the functions that a team will perform.
Identifying the nature and scope of the problem – When a crisis arises, the first priority is to understand exactly what is happening and what (or whom) is affected. This is the first priority because you cannot respond to a crisis effectively until you know exactly what you are up against.
Strategizing a solution in the form of an action plan – Once the scope and nature of the crisis is identified, the IT crisis response team is in a position to develop an action plan. The objective is to get the crisis under control as quickly as possible. IT team members play a key role in the development of this strategy since they are best positioned to identify what measures will stop the bleed, so to speak.
It is common for an action plan to have multiple phases. The first phase is usually designed to serve as a tourniquet, staunching the flow of blood, so to speak. The second phase focuses on a more permanent resolution.
Managing the crisis and overseeing implementation of an action plan – Once an action plan is formulated, it’s time for deployment. Members of the crisis management team work to ensure that all aspects of crisis mitigation strategy are carried out as planned.
Performing damage control – Some crises can lead to harmful press coverage or problematic social media buzz. An organization’s reputation matters and an experienced public relations team can be called in to advise and oversee “damage control” efforts.
Debriefing and developing crisis prevention strategies for the future – Once the crisis has been addressed and everything is in order, it’s time to look to the future to ensure that the organization does not see a repeat of the incident or any similar scenarios.
All IT crisis response team members should be debriefed, as should all individuals who were involved in the mitigation efforts. This information — along with an overview of the mitigation efforts and an analysis of the overall response efficacy — can be compiled into an incident report. This document can offer useful insights down the road.
Once the team has documented the exact circumstances surrounding the crisis and evaluated the efficacy of their response, the group can turn an eye toward the future. Measures may include developing new policies to avoid a future crisis or implementing new technologies to minimize vulnerability.
The Importance of an IT Crisis Response Team
An IT crisis response team places your organization in a position to react quickly and decisively in the event of a high-tech emergency.
The team members ought to be selected in advance of a crisis. Most IT crisis response teams meet periodically (e.g. quarterly) to touch base and discuss any possible vulnerabilities or concerns. Tabletop exercises and regular mock crisis responses are recommended to ensure that all team members are familiar with the crisis response protocol and their role in the process. These mock crises also provide a great opportunity to identify problem areas that might snarl your response. Time is critical when a crisis emerges, so you’ll want to do everything possible to streamline the response.
It is also prudent for the crisis response team leader to guide the development of protocol for how everyone will react if a crisis arises. For example, you will want to consider questions like:
- What is the process for alerting team members if a crisis emerges after business hours?
- How will the team members be notified?
- How will crisis response team members convene?
- What is the expected response time when a crisis occurs?
Technology solves many problems and these advances position today’s business leaders to achieve things that just weren’t possible a mere decade ago. But technology also introduces risk and vulnerabilities into the equation, making an IT crisis response team indispensable.
Without an IT crisis response team, there is a much higher risk that a crisis will get out of hand. The subsequent damage may be much more significant than what an organization might have experienced if they had an IT crisis response team standing by, ready to tackle the situation head-on.
It should be noted that the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) strongly recommends that all businesses and organizations — large, small and everything in between — establish an IT crisis response team. This recommendation has been emphasized on the heels of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, which has led to increased concerns over cyber attacks and cyber warfare.
If you suspect your organization has been a victim of a Russian cyberattack, you are encouraged to contact CISA to report the incident. CISA can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 888-282-0870.
Developing a Secure Enterprise Software Platform from the Ground Up
Some company leaders may begin addressing their technology and its security only to realize their enterprise software is plagued by vulnerabilities and holes. Here at 7T, we have extensive experience developing enterprise software platforms with robust, military-grade security. We’re available to work with your business to understand your unique needs from an operational and security standpoint, crafting a custom enterprise software platform that meets your exact requirements. As an innovative Dallas software and mobile app development company, 7T offers collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.