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How Should You Estimate Ransomware Recovery Timeframes?

How Should You Estimate Ransomware Recovery Timeframes?

No two ransomware attacks are alike, making it difficult to establish the typical recovery time after an incident. The time it takes for an organization to recover from a ransomware attack depends on the scope of the threat and the resources available to the company. In the best-case scenario, where you detect the attack early on and manage to minimize its spread, you should be able to execute your disaster recovery plan (DRP) and get your operations up and running after little impact.

Before you can confidently get to a stage where you can rely on your threat detection systems and DRP, the two require rigorous testing to ensure optimal recovery after an attack. Some companies place more emphasis on business continuity planning than others. And the time it takes to recover from a ransomware attack is largely dependent on a business’s attention levels to cybersecurity and their IT disaster recovery plan development in general.

Nonetheless, the conditions described above are ideal, making them comparatively rare in view of the wider picture. Research shows that the average time to recover from a ransomware attack is roughly three weeks. And most of this time is relegated to system and employee downtime. In cases that are often less rare than most would imagine, the disaster recovery process can labor on for months if the attack doesn’t shutter the company long before that time.

Underestimating the ransomware recovery timeframe it takes to is common among ill-prepared businesses. Too often, management teams believe they can resolve a ransomware attack simply by restoring their essential files from offsite backups. Worse still, many business owners naively remain willing to take the gamble, assuming they can simply pay the ransom request in exchange for decryption.

The threat factors that come into play during the ransomware recovery process are as numerous as they are diverse. In this post, we’ll cover a few variables that frequently prolong the recovery process and almost always result in extended system downtime.

1. Internal communication barriers

If you think disaster recovery is a task for your IT depart alone, you’d be remiss not to reassess this common assumption. Disaster recovery requires adequate and streamlined communications across all areas of your organization. It is true that IT disaster recovery is primarily a technical undertaking. But a lack of communication between internal staff and external partners can delay the recovery process considerably, even leading to the ultimate demise of your company as it exists now.

Among the first steps after a significant ransomware attack is to consult your legal team for advice. Your lawyers will inform you of any regulatory reporting options and how to start mitigating litigation. If you haven’t secured representation on this front, and your attorneys can’t even tell you what ransomware is, you could quickly find yourself in hot water from both a regulatory and legal liability standpoint.

Ensure you’re also keeping your insurers informed throughout the disaster recovery process. Ask them to reiterate your coverage and any deductibles. Try to give them the best estimate of your disaster recovery timeframe and how much you think it will cost to restore your operations back to normal.

Lastly, you must communicate effectively with your customers and your attackers alike to set the appropriate expectations. If you have to disclose the incident to your customers, you are, for all intents and purposes, making the incident public. Subsequently, you’ll need to begin taking steps to preserve or restore your brand reputation. Depending on the size of your business and its impact on confidential third-party information, you may require the help of a public relations specialist to manage your communications.

You’ll also be communicating with the attackers after a ransomware incident. As a company, you may decide that speaking with them at all is a bad idea. However, if you’ve no other options there are organizations out there that can help with conducting negotiations with the criminal hackers.

2. Poor testing protocol

Any ransomware recovery planning initiative should include exhaustive testing. A well-documented plan that hasn’t been analyzed and stressed is always insufficient. Your recovery strategy should be tested rigorously and religiously. This will give you a firm baseline on where your security posture stands and also help ensure that your current staff understands the latest security threats to your industry and the company procedures for preventing them.

Implement various tabletop exercises to simulate a ransomware attack to determine your readiness. Activities like this expose system vulnerabilities while pointing to existing gaps in your disaster recovery plan. According to a recent Veritas report, over half of all companies surveyed have not tested the disaster recovery plans they initially drafted within the last 60 days.

3. Unreliable decryptor performance

If push comes to shove, and you have to negotiate with the attackers, know that you can’t rely on the decryptor tools they provide. Oftentimes, they do not work, which can substantially extend your recovery time. Malicious hackers should never be trusted. If they do provide you with a means of decrypting your essential business information, the decryptor could contain bugs that irrecoverably corrupt the data as you try to recover your files.

4. Inefficient forensics

It might seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll need to understand how the attack occurred and the extent of its impact before you can expect a full recovery. Understanding which aspects of your system were compromised requires a comprehensive forensics investigation by qualified experts.

Not all in-house IT departments are up to such a specialized task, which is where a reputable outsourcer like PCH Technologies comes into play. Our digital forensic specialists can help you complete a thorough analysis that might otherwise take your existing IT team months to complete, extending the recovery process to a point where it’s longer affordable.

5. System restoration

Even as you recover your critical business data, the impacting systems will most likely command a significant and complicated rebuilding process. Remember that the first step after a ransomware attack is securing your information. After that, you’ll need to invest significant time and resources into recovering your IT infrastructure and systems. Companies that can’t resolve their system vulnerabilities swiftly will face considerable delays in restoring their operations.

Let PCH Technologies help you stop ransomware attacks before they start

Investing in a ransomware protection service is one of the smartest decisions you can make. To reduce your chances of becoming a ransomware victim or suffering any other kind of cyberattack, fill out our online request for contact form or book your free discovery call now by dialing (856) 754-7500.