What Is a Security Contingency Plan?

First of all, what does contingency mean? It is defined as the possibility of a negative event occurring in the future. Even though contingencies can be planned for, the kind and magnitude of such unfavorable occurrences are often unpredictable. Different types of companies prepare for this by conducting analyses and putting preventive measures in place. Managers of businesses frequently seek to anticipate and plan for potential eventualities that they feel may arise using predictive models. To limit risk, most of them lean on the cautious side, expecting somewhat worse-than-expected results.

What is a security contingency plan? A security contingency plan is a business document that gives all types of instructions, suggestions, and measures for an organization to follow in the case of a security breach, calamity, or system interruption. The major goal of this type of document is to defend data and assets following a security breach or calamity. This type of plan will contain procedures for implementing preventative measures and preventing further threats, breaches, or losses. Additionally, this document will also cover methods for gathering and preserving evidence, as well as methods for effectively developing a root cause analysis.

What’s Included in a Security Contingency Plan?

Here’s what’s inside on majority of security contingency plans that are created:

Purpose. This is usually the first part that is included in writing a security contingency plan. Basically, this part explains the purpose of the procedures that are listed in the contingency plan that is carried out in accordance with the existing control standards and requirements.Definition of Terms. After defining the purpose of the security contingency plan, this part then comes next. This part should be included in the security contingency plan should be included so that the readers of the document properly understand their roles and the terms that are present in the document, no matter how simple or complicated they may be. This is also important because it helps the readers understand the definitions of the terms listed as intended by the person who prepared the security contingency plan.Scope and Applicability. The next part of the security contingency plan is the part that discusses the scope statement and applicability of the document. A typical security contingency plan encompasses all company and information system protocols, including information systems used, managed, or controlled on behalf of the agency by a contractor, another agency, or other entity. It also specifies that the measures outlined in the security contingency plan apply to all firm workers, contractors, and other users of information systems supporting the organization’s activities and assets.Information. The next part of a security contingency plan is the information. The capacity to recognize when a scenario occurs is at the foundation of a contingency plan. For some businesses, notably those that have advanced to a higher degree of operation, the information is a metric or collection of metrics. Other businesses, especially those still functioning on a fundamental company level, have a more innate sense of the business.Boundary Conditions. This is the next important part of the contingency plan. Once a corporation has decided what information it will use to analyze the situation, it must decide under what circumstances it will declare that particular situation to be a contingency that must be handled. In other terms, this part explains the comfort zone of the situations being analyzed, and the boundaries of that particular comfort zone in which a contingency must be declared should the situation exceed those boundaries that are set.Audience of the Contingency Plan. This part of the security contingency plan states that the audience of the said document is the employees of the company, its contractors, stakeholders, and all the other users of the company information and information systems that serve to support the operations and assets of the said company.Levers. This part of the security contingency plan discusses what type of levers the company might employ to rectify its course. These levers may be reduced administrative costs, more sales visits, wage increases postponed, or a change in an approval procedure. Levers should focus on either income or cost effects. Because it is rare that any single lever will be able to touch both areas, and because the business may confront scenarios where income or cost must be managed, it is essential to build a portfolio of levers with which the organization can operate.Decision Process. This is the next critical component of the security contingency plan. In this section, the company should consider how it will choose to utilize the levers if the data shows that a barrier has been crossed. This will differ from one firm to the next. Some companies will have a predetermined decision-making procedure in place so that the guidelines are known before the organization enters a contingency. Other companies, however, are simply content to leave it as it is until they are confronted with the circumstance.Roles and Responsibilities. This is the next part of the security contingency plan. In this part, the roles and responsibilities of the employees in the company regarding what they should do in case a contingency happens are listed here. Typically, here are the roles listed in the security contingency plan, along with their responsibilities: the chief information officer (CIO) of the company ensures that the organization has the resources that are required to prepare and enact contingency plans for information systems inside their organization, the senior agency information security officer (SAISO) oversees the implementation of the company’s planning and testing processes, the information management officers (IMO) develop and issue the necessary steps to support the contingency plan, the information security officer (ISO) ensures that the contingency plan is updated, and the system owner (SO) and the system manager (SM) ensures that the contingency plan is properly implemented when a disruption or a failure occurs.Contingency Scenarios. After establishing who does what in the event of a contingency, another important part that should be present in this document is the different scenarios that the company can face.To take preparation to the next level and give a management team confidence that the company is ready and able for a contingency, the companies can develop a plethora of higher-probability contingency scenarios, thinking through what every one of the components would look like in each scenario and what potential issues could be. Winning numerous large contracts at the same time, losing your largest market, a cybersecurity assault from within, an external hacker gaining access to the company’s important information, a natural disaster crippling the company’s operations, and so on are all possible scenarios.Contingency Plan Timeline. This part of the security contingency plan refers to the timeline or the actions that need to be accomplished by the contingency team immediately or within a set period of time after the contingency has occurred.

How to Create a Security Contingency Plan

It is always good practice to have a contingency plan ready even if you don’t need it, especially for companies that deal with security systems. An effective security contingency plan should discuss matters that concern the mitigation of risk. To repeat, it is always good practice to have a plan in place since you never know when a contingency in your workspace can happen. With that being said, here are the steps to follow to effectively create this document:

1. Conducting a Risk Assessment

The first step in creating a security contingency plan is to assess the possible risks within your company. In this step, assess the most probable possible hazards that your company may face. Spend lots of time with your employees discussing risk assessment by thinking about challenges that might interrupt your company’s operations. After you’ve written down all of your possibilities, choose which of these challenges is most likely to materialize and will have the most influence on the company’s capacity to remain functional. The challenges stated are the conditions for which you wish to devise contingency plans. Delays of any type, market adjustments, regulatory changes, and so on are examples.

2. Identifying Resources

After conducting a risk assessment within your company and identifying the most probable risks that can happen, it’s time to proceed to this step, which is to identify the resources needed to address the said risks that were identified previously. This step basically addresses the issue of what materials are needed to respond to a contingency and the methods that are taken to attain the said resources. An example would be hiring outside help to complete your current tasks in the event of a contingency, providing a proper outline to the person or company that was hired to do the task, and requesting to extend the said deadline of that particular task because of an emergency that occurred that rendered the employee unable to finish the task on time.

3. Ensure Availability of the Resources Needed

After identifying the resources needed to respond to the contingency and the methods in which the said resources can be acquired, this step will then follow. In this step, you need to make sure that the resources needed to respond to contingencies are always available. You may discover that by expanding your contingency team’s skill set, you may reduce or even eliminate some challenges. Taking an overview of the people on your team and evaluating their talents to the ones you’ll need to address a workplace crisis and return to regular operations are examples of things that may be done in this step. If you discover any skill shortages, you may be able to address them by recruiting an independent group member on a contract basis.

4. Develop Plans and Procedures

After making sure that all the resources must be available during a contingency, this step will then follow. In this step, develop all the necessary plans and procedures to properly utilize the resources that were made available in the event that a contingency occurs. In developing the necessary plans and procedures, take into account that you must answer the question concerning the most effective use of all your resources in the event of a contingency. Because contingency measures are executed at the moment of disaster, communication is critical at this stage. In every facet of contingency, activities seldom go as planned, forcing managers to think in the context of conceivable outcomes rather than the most probable outcomes.

5. Share the Plans and Procedures

After developing the necessary plans and procedures, it’s time to share them with the people that need to know about them in this step. What needs to be done here is to read and sign off on your contingency plan with your team. Communicating your plan with others in your business not only makes them prepare but also allows you to learn from their recommendations. Sharing ideas is also essential since other people in your team or firm may have experience in areas that you do not.

6. Take Feedback

This serves as the last step in creating a security contingency plan. After sharing the plans with your team, it’s time to take some important feedback. Look for any chance to revise your contingency plan at this stage. You could hold frequent meetings with your team members to examine some of your most significant plans and determine if any improvements can be made. Over time, you may just find new ways to deal with a situation. It’s also possible that you’ll be able to reassess a contingency plan after putting it into action.


What is a disaster recovery plan in a security contingency plan?

A disaster recovery plan, which may be contained in a security contingency plan, is referred to as the set of established steps for recovery and protection after a major contingency such as a disaster has occurred in the workplace. In terms of information security, the function of this document is to focus on restoring operations of a company’s security systems and applications at an alternative site that is designated for use after an emergency has occurred.

What is the benefit of having a security contingency plan?

When a company suffers a security breach or a disruption, such as a natural catastrophe or a power outage, having a contingency plan in place may help mitigate the loss of production and data. Data can be redirected and preserved in a separate place using a contingency plan. Data centers, cold sites, and cloud-based solutions are some of the recovery solutions available to you. In order to duplicate regular activities, it is critical that you attempt to provide full security within a chosen backup site.

What is an example of a problem that can be encountered during contingency planning?

An example of such a problem is called a lack of buy-in. It takes a lot of work to build a contingency plan, so be sure you have the backing of the company’s stakeholders before you begin. To alleviate this kind of problem, make sure to check in with the sponsors on a regular basis while you develop your strategy to verify you’ve addressed important risks and that the action plan is credible. By doing so, you can guarantee that your contingency plan is supported by your stakeholders.

An effective security contingency plan can be painstaking and take a lot of time to create, but once an emergency does happen in your workplace, this document will then assist everyone on what to do and everyone will be glad that this document was created in the first place. To aid you in creating this type of document, feel free to browse the sample templates that are present within this article so that you have an example to refer to.