If your business has any IT infrastructure at all, you need to develop a disaster recovery plan - there's just no getting around it. By developing a comprehensive plan ahead of time, your organization will be able to recover more seamlessly in the event of a cyberattack or natural disaster. And even if the crisis led to the temporary paralysis of your organization via corrupted data or loss of function or any other scenario, you should be able to emerge with your head held high. The basics of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan are simple and achievable.
What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A disaster recovery plan refers to the set of tools and procedures used by an organization to recover from a massive disruption of its IT infrastructure. Disaster recovery planning uses several tools depending on your organization's current assets and recovery goals.
A disaster is any event interrupting access to data, systems, and apps. It could include the types of cyberattacks everyone is always warned about like ransomware, it could be widespread corruption data, or it could be something physical like a power outages or fire. A disaster recovery plan aims to address the cause of the problem and restore normal operations ASAP.
Basics of a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan
Certain elements should be an integral part of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. The plan should be simple to follow and understand, and it should address your organization's specific needs. The following are five fundamental elements to start with:
1. Establish a Disaster Recovery Team
Come up with a team to develop, maintain, and assist in executing the disaster recovery plan, when the time comes. Make sure to not only identify team members, but define their roles and responsibilities. List out which team member to contact in each kind of disaster or emergency, and be certain you can get in touch with them when needed.
2. Define and Assess Disaster Risks
Working together with the team you named above, identify and assess potential risks to your organization. That should include natural disasters, technology-related incidents, and perhaps any potential scenarios relevant to your specific industry. Draw up appropriate recovery strategies, resources, and conditions for when to initiate the plan.
3. Determine Critical Documents, Applications, and Resources
After evaluating your organization, determine which resources are most critical to your ongoing operations. Essentially, your plan should focus more on short-term survival needs like revenue and cash flow generation, and less on restoring the full functionality. While you can delay some processes, important ones such as payroll processing must go on.
4. Establish Off-Site Storage and Backup Procedures
The procedures should identify the data to back up, how to perform the backup, who will manage the backup, location, and frequency. Plan to backup all critical documents, equipment, and applications. Crucial documents may include current financial statements, inventory records, and customer/vendor info. Applications should include the software most necessary to continuing your critical operations.
5. Test and Maintain the Plan
With the changing nature of risks and disasters, disaster recovery planning is a continuous process. You can't set it and forget it on this one. Establish ways of continuously testing the plan, re-evaluating procedures as you go, and be ready to come up with new strategies when the need arises. While this may be primarily the the work of the disaster recovery team, it may also be wise to involve other members of the organization to get a fresh perspective and build your security culture.
It is easy to set up a comprehensive disaster recovery plan if you know the elements that go into it. Once the plan is in place, implement, evaluate, and maintain it so that your business is not caught unprepared in the event of a disaster. It’s never too late to start!