An Introduction to Disaster Recovery: 5 Things Your Plan Needs to Include

Data Recovery

Your business may lose important data and information when you least expect it. Just as natural disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis may hit your business and cause you both financial and physical damage, man-made disasters, such as cyber-attacks, hacking and robbery may also result in the loss of crucial data or business operations.

If not prepared, your company may suffer huge losses, or even collapse. Even large businesses have suffered huge losses in the stock markets after a cyber-attack – remember the Talk Talk disaster? However, with a data backup and disaster recovery plan, you can still stay afloat after a disaster.

How effectively your enterprise bounces back after a disaster depends on how your disaster recovery plan is formulated. Below are some crucial aspects of your disaster recovery strategy should cover.

#1. A List of Possible Threats and How Your Business Will Respond to Them

An effective disaster recovery plan should analyze what disasters may hit your enterprise, and how prepared you are to deal with each incident.

Your plan should state the recovery strategy, step by step, for all the possible threats. For instance, if your systems fail abruptly, or if your systems are hacked, or if floods hits your enterprise’s location, what exactly will you do to keep essential business processes running?

Of course, there are disasters that pose more threats than others. Most notably,, cyber-attacks are becoming more prevalent than natural disasters. This means you, and others involved in the maintenance of the recovery plan, need to stay on top of the latest threats and mitigation strategies.

It is also important, however, to not overlook disasters that you think are unlikely to hit your systems or geographic location. Do not assume that a certain disaster cannot hit your business!

#2. Critical Personnel Involved in the Disaster Recovery Plan

Formulating a disaster recovery strategy without outlining the people to be involved in the plan is a bad move. The best, most comprehensive recovery plan in the world would be useless if you don’t identify people to implement it! The disaster recovery plan should list the people to be involved as well as:

  • Their contact information and how they can be reached both during work hours and after
  • What role they will play in recovery plan and what specific steps they will take
  • Who will be contacted in case the person cannot be reached

It is essential to let all the role players know what is expected of them, and that they will be contacted in case an emergency hits the enterprise.

#3. Prioritize Which Systems and Data Are Recovered First

In any enterprise, there are data and systems that are more crucial than others. Not all the data and services have the same magnitude of importance; some will cause a company to collapse without them.

It may seem obvious, but in case of a disaster, you should strive to recover the most important systems before recovering the rest. This is why a critical element of any disaster recovery plan is determining what the recovery priorities are. Failure to highlight the priorities in advance may lead to time wasted on recovering nonessential systems in the event of an actual disaster. This may put your business at a stand-still until the important systems and data are brought back online.

#4. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A business impact analysis (BIA) is a critical part of developing your disaster recovery plan because of it::

  • Identifies potential effects of disasters
  • Evaluates the possible risks involved
  • Covers both natural and man-made threats
  • Minimizes losses in case a disaster strikes
  • Helps establish the priorities of the business

Having a complete business impact analysis allows for the identification of your system’s dependencies and priorities. Furthermore,  BIA focuses on three security objects that your business requires: confidentiality, availability, and integrity.

#5. Systematic Updates

Let’s say you created your disaster recovery plan in January 2017.  Everything runs as normal until May 2018 when your systems are hacked. Chances are high that in the year and a half since you created the plan, there were quite a number of changes. Some of the updates that are commonly done include:

  • Changes in the internal systems
  • Change in software
  • Software updates
  • Incorporation of new technological advancements
  • New employees or changes to personnel roles

Whenever changes to any of these occur, your disaster recovery plan should be updated.

As everyone knows, technology is constantly evolving, and your enterprise is likely to incorporate new software and techniques fairly regularly. It can be quite frustrating to realize that your disaster recovery plan contains useless strategies that are no longer effective.

As I mentioned above as well, it’s also important to update your plan to regularly update your plan to reflect the latest cyber-threats and risks, along with how you will prepare and react to each.

In Summary…

Do not wait to formulate an effective disaster recovery plan until after a disaster strikes your enterprise. Invest in formulating an effective disaster recovery plan and include the aspects discussed above to help your business have a swift recovery and continue operations after a disaster. Failure to include some of the crucial aspects discussed above may make your recovery process strenuous.

In addition to the suggestions above, it is necessary to organize regular disaster recovery drills. Practicing how the disaster recovery plan works will familiarize the involved personnel on what they are expected to do. Formulating a plan and forgetting about it until a disaster strikes is unadvisable.