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Cyber attacks are growing in complexity, and the damage these can cause in an organization can be significant and debilitating. Cybersecurity documentation can help offset and reduce these risks by outlining security efforts to personnel about responding to disasters or incidents.

Cybersecurity documentation educates employees about standard operating procedures when digital attacks happen. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. These days we can’t afford to ignore cyberattacks from phishing efforts, ransomware, and advanced persistent threats.

The Essentials of Cybersecurity Documentation

Preparation is the name of the game when it comes to cybersecurity documentation. It removes confusion by clearly outlining the steps that an organization must undertake when a breach is happening. The personnel must remain calm under pressure when these situations occur to avoid further mistakes and complications.

For the proper implementation of cybersecurity documentation, here are some pointers:

Outlining Security Processes

During emergencies, having a written incident response can help decision-makers act accordingly. When the measures are written, everyone will know their roles in communication, coordination, and investigation.

It also helps eliminate uncertainty, guesswork, and chaos at a very critical time. These are playbooks that can assist organizations in having prompt and efficient countermeasures against attacks.

Constant Updates

Having cybersecurity documentation can only provide robust defense if they are up to date. If these written references are outdated, they can cause more problems than they solve.

More importantly, advanced persistent threats do not remain stagnant. They scale up, improvise, adapt, and evolve. If the cybersecurity documentation does not keep up, it will be obsolete and useless.

Consistent Format

The decision of what format the cybersecurity documentation should adopt varies from one industry to another. Some organizations prefer concise writing styles, while other companies rely more on verbose descriptions for more details.

Whatever the style, this must be consistent throughout the company to be on the same page. This consistency will help stabilize the situation in the event of a cyber attack.

Documentation Platform

Knowing where to find the cybersecurity documentation when it is urgently needed will save a lot of resources. Time is essential during a security breach, and having a safe place to store the documentation will help the team do a quick repair of any digital damage the hackers may have done.

There is simply no space for chaos and confusion during these critical emergencies, especially in scrambling to locate the cybersecurity documentation.

The documentation platform should have strong encryption and authentication protocols so that it has protection against unauthorized use. If hackers get possession of the cybersecurity protocols, it is similar to handing robbers the key to the bank vault.

Document Troubleshooting

It is also essential to create documentation of the aftermath of an incident, particularly the measures used for troubleshooting and the solutions deployed to fix the incident. These insights are valuable in creating defense mechanisms should these events happen again in the future.


Vital Types of Cybersecurity Documentation

1. Information Security Policy

The Information Security Policy is the foundation of the security system. It has a detailed outline of how a company’s cybersecurity program operates and the inherent responsibilities of every vital personnel.

This document will also enumerate the daily activities and milestones of the cybersecurity program and the macro-level focus of the organization for future endeavors.

During the Information Security Policy creation, the organization must integrate its insights within the mission and vision of the business objectives. Security should be an utmost priority during times like these when cyber-attacks are prevalent. Every personnel should understand its importance.

The Information Security Policy must consolidate rules, agreements, and standards that adhere to best practices in the industry and legal requirements from regulations.

2. Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Plans

The Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) are essential documents that will outline the contingencies of an organization during an adverse event. With so much at stake and so much potential confusion during an incident, these written references will help restore the standard functionality of an organization.

A good example is an untimely disruption of IT services and technical facilities after a national disaster. A DR plan will enumerate steps to respond to such a catastrophe and take a leadership role during these times.

If the DR plan is a stopgap for an immediate emergency, the BCP focuses on the big picture. It discusses the company’s overall strategy for resilience, mainly how the organization can keep operating despite an adverse event.

A critical factor in the success of a DR Plan and BCP is that they must undergo testing. Without any dry run rooted in reality, these plans may ultimately become irrelevant. They must experience simulation beyond the computer desktop. Update as needed to adapt to various business situations, especially now that the world is under the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cyber Resiliency

Disasters are both unpredictable and inevitable. They simply happen, whether it’s a natural catastrophe, a persistent attack, or a human error. Resilience is the ability of an organization to withstand these difficult times with a plan that will attempt to normalize the business functions that suffered disruptions.

Continuity of Operations Program (COOP)

Another critical aspect of disaster recovery is to ensure that the damage to essential services is kept at a minimum. The Continuity of Operations Program encompasses response plans, recovery strategies, and detailed documentation about navigating critical systems.

There are various approaches that a COOP can adopt to ensure the smooth function of the program:

  • Impact. A program that centers on impact will prioritize facilities, personnel, and technology. This plan will analyze the fallout or aftermath of the incident and how it can recover from it.
  • Priority. A priority-based program will do a hierarchy sequence of essential systems and infrastructure that will receive all the company resources if an incident happens. These are the crucial aspects of the company needed to hit the ground running again.
  • Time. A program that focuses on the element of time will assess the extent of the incident and determine the varying time frames needed to re-establish a return to normalcy.

Department Simulation

A simulation is the best means to test the defenses and preparation of an organization to counter disasters and persistent threats.

Disruptions to normal business operations will happen in an experimental environment. The personnel will then have to accomplish critical business functions while faced with daunting challenges. If the program is effective, the organization can resume operations even with external constraints.

3. Incident Management Plan

The Incident Management Plan (IMP) is an organizational defense against adverse security incidents such as ransomware assaults or phishing attempts. The IMP is a written reference that will guide personnel at a very crucial time during a crisis, instructing what they can and cannot do during a cyberattack.

The IMP enumerated activities and task lists must undergo pre-definition, training, and testing to ensure that the organization can handle these active threats from reporting to recovery.

The IMP must have full integration within the organization’s mission, vision, and business goals for the best results. The security team, including front-line staff, senior managers, board members and business managers, must have full awareness of the incidence management activities of the company.

Prior training empowers the personnel about how they can effectively and swiftly respond to any cyberattack. All hands must be on deck to have a positive conclusion for the organization as it defeats the threat.

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Ransomware Defense

One of the most prevalent types of cyberattacks is ransomware, malicious software that infests a computer system stealthily. When the system infection is complete, they will display a  message demanding a ransom to make the system work again. This is a very offensive criminal scheme that infiltrates organizations using phishing emails.

Your company is not helpless against ransomware if you have high-quality cybersecurity documentation on hand. Practice and preparation are vital to energizing and strengthening your company defenses.

The initial step is to prevent the cyberattack from gaining access in the first place. The personnel is the first line of defense because phishing only works when the human element is ignorant of these schemes.

An “air-gap” strategy to back up critical files and data is also a good insurance policy. An “air-gapped” infrastructure has no possible gateway for an online connection. By isolating the essential data from an online attack, there is always a safe backup to help a company restart when a security incident happens.

Foresight is essential because it helps an organization have many available options for contingencies. It works under the adage of not putting all your eggs in a single basket. Consistent practice will help build overall company intelligence and memory to be on the same page when an actual incident occurs.

The organization should always test its restore protocols frequently to identify potential gaps or vulnerabilities. Designate off-network and off-site locations of recovery data that are accessible for key decision-makers.

Having an insurance policy against ransomware attacks will be very helpful. Prior coordination is essential, so the company is fully aware of the requirements for a claim to be paid.

Technical Writing Exercise

A technical writer is essential to formalize the business and cybersecurity processes and practices of your organization.

Partner with Governance Docs so that you can focus on your business goals instead of worrying about your technical writing requirements. Our team of experts will create excellent documentation that your entire organization can rely on for reference. We have deep domain expertise in all aspects of cybersecurity defense, compliance, and certifications.

We will work closely with your IT team, business decision-makers, and subject matter experts to determine the specifications of your technical writing needs as clearly and precisely as you need them. We ask the right questions to produce a document that speaks to the right audience. Research and support are our strong points as we provide a wide array of cybersecurity initiatives.

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