Businesses of all sizes generate and manage massive amounts of electronic information or data in today's workplace. Although no one wants to think about a disaster, whether natural, man-made, or cyber-attack, it can happen at any time, so your company must have a backup plan in place to restore interrupted or threatened data services quickly. A plan for disaster recovery can help reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with disruption. This article will explain what a disaster recovery plan is, how it differs from business continuity, and how to develop one.
What Is A Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan is a collection of tools and procedures that an organization employs to recover from a significant disruption to its IT assets. Depending on the organization's existing assets and recovery goals, disaster recovery planning can utilize various tools.
The "disaster" in disaster recovery planning can be any event that disrupts access to records, apps, or systems. Power outages, data storage corruption, DDoS attacks, natural disasters that disrupt server connections—anything and everything that disrupts IT workflows falls into this category. The objective is to recover from the data disaster and resume normal operations.
Certain cybersecurity threats can even be mitigated by disaster recovery plans. For example, having a disaster recovery plan in place can be extremely effective in countering a ransomware attack. Instead of paying a cybercriminal for the encryption key, you can simply restore the corrupted data from a remote backup.
What does a Disaster Recovery Plan include?
Your disaster recovery strategy should include secure, cloud-based disaster recovery as well as offsite backup and recovery.
It should also include a strategy for where employees will gather, how you will communicate with customers and steps you can take to reduce risk and increase security:
- Audit IT Resources
Before you can plan for everything to return to "normal," you must first define "normal" for your company. Part of this understands all of the disparate assets that exist on your company's network infrastructure.
By creating an inventory of all the IT resources on your network and the data that each resource holds, you can begin to consolidate and streamline things to make future backup and recovery easier.
- Plan For Worst
IT environments are becoming more complicated. Simultaneously, cyber threats are becoming more dangerous, common, and sophisticated. Businesses are also more vulnerable to dangerous weather events as a result of climate change.
Businesses frequently make the error of assuming that their service providers and partners have failsafe plans, which leads to complications. It is far safer to create a plan than to rely on other agencies for business continuity.
When you add it all up, you need a risk-based approach to disaster recovery. In other words, it is not a question of whether or not your company will suffer an IT disaster. It's only a matter of time. You can mitigate damage and potentially avoid catastrophic losses by planning for the worst and covering all of your bases.
- Identify the Attack
Your company probably processes and stores a lot more data than you think, and a lot of that data is redundant or not necessary for you to keep things running. During your IT asset audit, you'll most likely come across a lot of data sets that aren't that important.
If you try to copy every piece of data from every IT asset in your network to a backup server, you'll need a lot of processing power. By removing unnecessary or redundant data, you can reduce the size of the backup file, saving storage space and money in the long run.
This is also an excellent opportunity to practice good data hygiene by removing unnecessary files from endpoints.
- Communication Plan
Whatever type of disaster occurs, a communication plan is critical to ensuring business continuity.
Assign specific people to roles that are clearly defined.
For example, if a fire damaged the building, it might be the maintenance supervisor's responsibility to notify the CEO, who would then initiate a chain reaction of communications to staff.
If the business must be closed or relocated, create a plan of action to ensure that customers understand what has happened and how to contact you.
If phone systems are compromised, designate someone to be in charge of communicating via social media and monitoring social media for customer inquiries.
If a data breach occurs, your communication strategy should include both the required regulatory communications and public relations communications to reassure stockholders and customers of the steps you are taking to protect them.
It should also include emergency contact information for your managed services team, who will aid you in your recovery.
- Set Recovery Goals
How soon should your company be able to recover from a disaster? What (and how much) data can you afford to lose in the event of a disaster? Setting recovery point and recovery point objectives can be critical in an effective disaster recovery plan.
When it comes to RPOs and RTOs, you might even want to prioritize some data over others. For example, less important data that does not require immediate access could be given a lower priority, resulting in a longer recovery time and a lack of frequent backups for that information.
- Test Your Plan
Once you've created a solid disaster recovery plan, put it to the test. Run a drill in which a natural disaster occurs or a breach is simulated.
Test your team to ensure that your plan is complete. If you find gaps in the plan, such as communication or security gaps, strengthen them with additional steps.
Finally, you never know when the next disaster will strike and affect your business. Rather than waiting for something terrible to happen and forcing you to react, go on the offensive and review your recovery plan to ensure it can protect your IT infrastructure and digital assets.
Ready to begin developing a disaster recovery plan that will keep your IT operations running in any scenario?
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