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February 1, 2024

What to do after a ransomware attack recovery: Post-event analysis and improvement

Following a ransomware recovery, teams can conduct post-event analysis to identify specific areas for improvement, understand the effectiveness of the recovery process, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, alongside other optimization-related factors. 

In this second part of our three-part series, we look into the various post-event analysis components following a ransomware recovery or simulation exercise, offering you insights to strengthen your overall cybersecurity posture. If you would like to read our first article in the series on the ransomware recovery process, you can view that article here.

And, to discover how Cutover’s platform can minimize the financial and reputational impact of ransomware attacks on your organization by bringing teams and technology together, book a demo today

Ransomware attacks: An overview

Ransomware attacks are a prevalent cybersecurity infection where a malicious actor aims to encrypt an organization's or individual’s sensitive data, rendering them inaccessible until a ransom is paid. Ransomware threat actors don’t just target one industry — all industries and all business sizes are susceptible to attacks, and their susceptibility increases significantly if the necessary safety and ransomware recovery measures aren’t in place. 

While monetary loss is the most common consequence of ransomware attacks, businesses also face reputational damage, particularly when highly sensitive information becomes encrypted or is leaked. A recent large-scale example involved the Costa Rican government which was subject to a host of ransomware attacks in 2022, resulting in a national state of emergency. This was primarily due to the impairment to customs control and international trade, resulting in losses of up to $125M within the first 48 hours of the attack alone. 

Organizations suffer by not implementing robust recovery measures and engaging in post-event analysis; conversely, tried-and-true recovery processes work to mitigate the impacts of ransomware attacks, helping to minimize financial losses, protect reputation, and ensure business continuity.

Key components of a post-event analysis 

A post-event analysis involves systematically examining each aspect of the ransomware recovery tasks to understand what actions were taken, when, and by whom, and how those recovery plans can be improved. The goal is to extract valuable insights that can guide improvements in cyber recovery strategies. Here are several foundational aspects of a post-event analysis.

Runbook analytics: The goal here is to scrutinize existing recovery runbooks to identify potential improvements. This may include evaluating the efficiency of runbook templates, bottlenecks in the sequencing of tasks, alternative steps taken to drive desired outcomes, or reviewing automation responses to the recovery technology stack. A key focus should be on analyzing the orchestration of tasks between the people and technology involved in recovering applications and data after the ransomware attack, understanding the efficacy of these actions, and how quickly systems are restored to normal operation. 

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) assessment: This step involves a comparative analysis between recovery time actuals (RTAs) and pre-established RTOs, and, if the RTO was not met, understanding why. This aspect is foundational for ensuring that systems are recovered within impact tolerances to avoid unacceptable knock-on effects on users. In addition, recovery points of data must be measured against RPOs to understand how much data is potentially lost after restoring from the last known good, non-infected backups.  

Audit and regulatory compliance: Maintaining a detailed audit trail of cyber recoveries allows organizations and regulatory bodies to examine the sequence of tasks and the decision-making processes for compliance with relevant regulations such as the European Union’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) which will be in full force in January 2025. Proper regulatory reports for cyber recoveries and tests should be automatically generated and record the timing and execution of tasks in a non-editable format. This serves as a record of execution for auditing, continuous improvement, and regulatory compliance adherence.

Post-event analysis in practice

For a major financial services company, the introduction of the Cutover platform significantly improved their post-event analysis processes. Before Cutover, the institution struggled with manually inputting Recovery Time Actuals (RTAs) – a method prone to delays and inaccuracies. This legacy process was not only inefficient but also failed to meet regulatory standards for timely and accurate reporting.

Cutover’s real-time dashboards functioned within the company's extensive IT disaster recovery exercises, providing immediate, live updates of the recovery process, and capturing the execution of tasks in real time. This feature ensured that the RTAs were not only recorded more accurately but also instantly available, eliminating the previous delays and uncertainties associated with manual entries.

This accurate and timely capture of RTAs proved invaluable for post-event analysis, offering the company deeper insights into the efficacy of their recovery strategies. By comparing the real-time data against pre-established RTOs, the company could seamlessly identify areas needing improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance its resilience strategies. Furthermore, this shift to automated, real-time data capture brought the company into compliance with regulatory standards, strengthening its position in the highly regulated financial sector. 

Gain confidence with Cutover 

Cutover can help your business navigate the intricate landscape of cyber recovery, particularly in the face of increasingly complex ransomware attacks. Our platform is designed not just to streamline your recovery processes, but to significantly reduce the impact and fallout from such incidents.

With Cutover, you unlock a suite of tools and features:

Full visibility: Clarity is key in the aftermath of a ransomware attack. Cutover provides stakeholders with comprehensive insights into the status of cyber recovery efforts through intuitive dashboards and detailed reporting capabilities. This not only cuts down on the time typically consumed in manual reporting but also mitigates the errors associated with it. Our platform's real-time dashboard equips IT teams with the necessary information to make strategic decisions rapidly, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the recovery process.

Centralized management: Cutover combines teams and technology via a centralized source of execution and communications. Cutover fosters enhanced collaboration by seamlessly integrating with various communication tools like email, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and text messaging. As a centralized hub of information, Cutover amplifies collaboration, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page throughout the entire recovery process. 

Simple auditability: Cutover simplifies regulatory compliance with its immutable audit logs, increasing audit efficiency by 60%. This feature is relevant not just for compliance but also for post-event analytics, helping organizations identify areas for improvement and streamline their recovery processes.

Proven efficiency: Utilizing Cutover has enabled our customers to slash their recovery time by 50%, significantly reducing downtime and its associated costs. This reduced downtime further works to maintain customer trust and protect your organization’s reputation. The increasing prevalence and complexity of ransomware attacks require sophisticated, automated runbook technology. Enterprises around the globe trust Cutover for its comprehensive, efficient, and user-friendly approach to cyber recovery.

Book a demo of Cutover’s collaborative automation platform today! Or, you can learn more about how Cutover’s automated runbooks can help de-risk your cyber recoveries by reading our e-guide

This article was part two of our three-part series. Click here to read the third article in our three-part series where we’ll take a deeper look into the steps your organization can take to rehearse and train its ability to recover from ransomware attacks by building muscle memory.

Testing and preparing to recover from future ransomware attacks
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