What’s the difference between BCPs, DRPs, & Incident Response Plans

What’s the difference between BCPs, DRPs, & Incident Response Plans

[7 min read]


No matter how advanced, profitable, or talented organizations are, no business is immune to risks and business interruptions. In the cybersecurity industry, organizations need robust and tested strategies to survive in the current environment where threats, cyberattacks, and zero-days are more common and sophisticated than ever.


Organizations must have comprehensive incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans to ensure their company stays afloat. These plans decrease operational downtime, help preclude financial losses, and allow organizations to adapt and dynamically respond to threats.


Moreover, an organization’s crisis identification, mitigation, and recuperation proficiency indicate its integrity and understanding of the industry. Response plans serve to prepare and protect organizations from potential information and cybersecurity incidents like data breaches, zero-day exploits, and even negligence.


While we focus on the cybersecurity, IT, and networking aspects of response and recovery plans, they are adaptable for any purpose, goal, or incident an organization may face.


project management team planning


What is an Incident Response Plan?

Incident response plans (IRPs) are an organization’s procedures, practices, and staff responsibilities should cyber-attacks, mass-phishing frauds or zero-day exploits bombard the company. IRPs help businesses break down and denote:


  • Step-by-step actions the company should take when facing attacks or incidents
  • Each responding team member’s roles and responsibilities
  • Concise communication plans
  • Key performance indicators and metrics for measuring the efficacy of the company’s incident response


Incident response plans work best when paired with business analytics. Analysts can help leaders pinpoint how incidents affect business operations, how that translates to an impact on the organization, and which resources the company needs to minimize operational downtime.


These factors create an incident response life cycle, allowing leaders to observe and execute the plan in phases, depending on the incident and how the company responds. For example, a ransomware incident response varies from its server blackout IRP, both planning and execution.


What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?

A disaster recovery plan or DRP is a detailed, organized approach to reallocate resources to rectify an incident efficiently. Network backups are a prime example of disaster recovery plans in action.


IT disaster recovery plans typically revolve around cybersecurity, data centers, network upkeep, and software deployment. They are usually organized by what the recovery plan would cover, like the type of disaster.


As for what elements a disaster recovery plan should cover, six main pieces compose viable DRPs. These categories change across organizations and industries, but they all are similar in purpose and execution.


  • Identify the scope of the recovery plan
  • Create a disaster recovery team with roles and responsibilities
  • Identify risks and assess their severity.
  • Determine the strategies, critical team members, procedures, and resources needed to recover essential business operations
  • Create a communication plan
  • Create a schedule for implementing, testing, reviewing, and maintaining the work of the DRP


These disaster recovery plan steps help break down each critical process an organization needs to recover from disaster efficiently. Many organizations may not recognize the value of conducting such an analysis, but once they do, they seldom question why yearly disaster recovery testing is a best practice.


What is a Business Continuity Plan?

Business continuity plans, or BCPs, encompass the primary dimensions of incident response and disaster recovery plans. However, BCPs only contain elements of DRPs and IRPs and are not an umbrella solution for incidents.


BCPs are more dynamic in analyzing the tools, resources, and processes needed to create a packaged approach to prevent and recover from company threats and incidents. Many people think of business continuity plans as the entire process of identifying, responding, mitigating, and recovering from attacks and disasters.


Planning disaster recovery


Primary Differences Between BCPs, DRPs, & Incident Response Plans

While the incident response, disaster recovery, and business continuity plans have a lot of overlap, here, we will break down how they are unique and what their specific advantages are:


Incident response plans

Organizations typically use IRPs for cybersecurity risks like data breaches, ransomware, and phishing attacks. IRPs specializes in identifying how to respond and mitigate cybersecurity incidents.


Disaster recovery plans

Indented environmental and large-scale disruptions, like hardware and power outages, natural disasters, extreme weather, and significant cyberattacks, businesses create DRPs to travel throughout an organization, allowing any team member, technical or not, to understand and deploy the recovery plan.


IRPs and DRPs work best when organizations use them in tandem, using both plans to influence the other. In some cases, businesses use the same team for both incident response and recovery.

Business continuity plans

Business continuity plan components help organizations approach incidents holistically, allowing the scope of BCPs to change and alter how companies develop IRPs and DRPs. BCPs are strategies that help organizations ensure they can still facilitate vital business operations through or despite downtime, attacks, or incidents.


Incident response plans and disaster recovery plans are like the process by which a business continuity plan is executed and maintained. In most cases, organizations need all three plans to develop a strategy for maintaining business operations despite disasters, recovering from attacks, and responding to isolated and business-wide incidents.

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