The Role of Business Continuity in the WannaCry Attacks | The BCI

The Business Continuity Institute

BCAW 2017

In just the space of a weekend, the WannaCry ransomware attack is thought to have affected over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries, the most reported being that of the NHS.* With hundreds of medical appointments cancelled and organizations around the world thrown into disarray, the debate has naturally turned to questions of how the attack managed to infiltrate and compromise systems globally, whether old and outdated IT infrastructures are to blame, if governments have invested enough in cyber security, and so on…Yet we haven’t really heard the words “business continuity” and “resilience”.

Many questions have been asked about the causality of the attacks and the resulting aftermath, but nobody has asked how organizations, such as the NHS, Fedex and Nissan have managed to continue operating under a cyber-attack? What services have they been able to continue providing and what were they able to save? These are the important questions we need to consider during a crisis such as this. The dramatic effects of an attack such as last Friday’s should not be underestimated, but analysing how effectively organizations were able to react and continue their operations is something we need to equally address because it is what really makes a difference during a crisis. To understand how fundamental business continuity is, we need to learn to highlight how resilient organizations were during the attack and understand the processes they implemented to minimise impact…

Business Continuity is Key to Minimising the Impact of Ransomware Attacks

Business continuity is therefore key. Business continuity is what makes an immediate difference during any kind of emergency, crisis or disruption. It is what makes an organization resilient, ready to respond and carry on, even amid difficult circumstances. Yet business continuity cannot be improvised. It requires specialised and trained staff as well as the support of everyone within an organization – from executive management to junior staff.

“Could my organization be hit by a cyber-attack?”

The question on everyone’s minds now is: “could my organization be hit by a cyberattack? "Yes: no matter the scale or industry you operate in, your organization is exposed, but there are several precautions you can take to prepare in the event of a crisis like this. Prevention is what makes you resilient. Having specialised and trained business continuity staff with the ability and resources to develop, implement and maintain a business continuity plan, will help you identify the risks faced by your organization and key operational areas that need to be prioritized during a crisis. Practical exercises are also fundamental. You need to test the business continuity protocols, test how your staff reacts (e.g. if they cannot access IT) and most of all you need to see what works and critical gaps that need to be improved.

Shifting Attention from Chaos to Resilience

The BCI works to promote business continuity and resilience around the world, offering resources, training and events that focus on current topics, threats and issues in this fast-developing industry. So much is still to be done, but we need to keep working to shift the attention from fear and chaos deriving from a crisis to focus on how we pull through it and business continuity is the key to doing so. We cannot predict the future or foresee a crisis coming, but we can most definitely prepare for it and react to it in the most resilient way possible.

*https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/14/cyber-attack-escalate-working-week-begins-experts-nhs-europol-warn