Sophisticated systems and programs and strong cybersecurity measures do not necessarily always insulate organizations from disasters. Natural disasters, fires, power outages, man-made disasters, cyber-attacks, etc. can and do happen, leading to loss of data, downtime, etc. Organizations need to have a strong IT disaster recovery plan to tide themselves over in such circumstances. An in-depth understanding of components of IT disaster recovery plans and tools for the same can be obtained through cybersecurity certification courses by professionals engaged in cybersecurity and IT engineering.
Here we discuss 7 things that must be covered in your IT disaster recovery plan.
Define Priorities and Tolerance Level for outages/ data loss/ downtime: Defining priorities is very important in a DR plan. Not all the data, assets and application are needed to be protected or recovered. Information already available publicly or awaiting public release need not be protected but the protection of confidential information and recovery of critical applications are indispensable. Similarly, clearly spelling out the level of tolerance for outages, data loss and downtime will aid in making the plan more effective and on-point. Both these definitions would be a good starting point for building an IT DR plan.
Analysis of possible threats and possible responses: An in-depth analysis to uncover a wide spectrum of possible threats, interruptions and breaches as well as potential intruders and possible solutions to each of the scenarios must be incorporated into the DR plan too. Though all scenarios may not occur, the organization should not be caught unawares without any processes and plans in place. After all, prevention and preparation are better than cure.
Business Impact Analysis (BIA): Each disaster is bound to have a different impact on the business operations in terms of nature (financial safety, legal, reputation, etc.) and magnitude. This can be identified and evaluated through a BIA. Three security objectives probed by this analysis are confidentiality, integrity and availability. Based on the BIA, dependencies can be understood, and priorities established. Experts suggest that the best time frame for conducting this analysis is after the formulation of the DR policy and before the preparation of contingency plans.
People and Processes: Most organizations tend to get one-tracked minded in their IT disaster recovery plans, focusing solely on technology, systems and structures. In the process, they tend to sideline and neglect their most important resources- people (employees as well as clients) and processes in the recovery process. When a disaster strikes, every organization must have the following figured out:
- Having a critical response team in place who would take care of employees who need help and make necessary arrangements. Who calls law enforcement agencies if the need arises should also be decided upon well in advance.
- A clear communication plan.
- Employees must know how to act when a disaster occurs, whom to call, awareness about email ids or phone numbers they can call for help.
- The response team that would communicate with affected people including employees, customers, clients and other affected parties.
- Awareness among employees and team management about work arrangements in times of disaster, i.e. if work continues in a remote fashion, if telework happens and which teams need to be on-call, etc.
- Where needed, arrangements for an alternate worksite with the required equipment and connectivity.
Updates: With technology, there are regular changes in internal systems, applications, software and practices of the organization. Technological advancements may also change some underlying assumptions in processes or may provide a more effective solution in the DR plan. These need to be consciously updated on the disaster recovery plan so as to ensure there no gaps or vulnerabilities, and to also ensure the DR does not become redundant.
Testing and regular practice drills: Regular testing and practice drills are indispensable for organizations since they identify gaps and vulnerabilities in the DR plan. Unless testing is done, you cannot be sure if your sophisticated technologies and processes run smoothly, without glitches. You will not be able to find the follies and faults of a perfect plan. Similarly, testing cannot be a one-time affair, it is an ongoing process. Experts also say it is effective if the testing environment and frequency are defined in the DR plan itself.
Disaster Recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) could be considered: Service providers today offer DRaaS due to the growing movement of data onto the Cloud. These services can be economical and easier options for some organizations and could be given serious consideration.
In conclusion, Disaster Recovery Plans are important for every organization in the climate of greater vulnerability to attacks and disasters.
Through cybersecurity certification courses, IT engineers and security professionals can learn tips and tricks from industry and academic experts about cybersecurity and hone their skills and techniques to be better prepared for cyber-attacks and disasters.