Today, organizations that rely on the functionality of websites, databases, and digital resources face several threats that can shut down their processes and operations. A disruptive incident may cause significant financial losses, churn, and damage brand identity. It’s mission-critical to have a procedure designed to mitigate the total downtime a business may encounter from a disaster.
The course of action that organizations use when a digital collapse strikes is known as a disaster recovery plan (DRP). A network DRP outlines steps that an organization should follow in the instance of unforeseen circumstances, including, but not limited to:
- Being hacked (ransomware attacks, spyware)
- Phishing scams
Let’s explore the contents of a disaster recovery plan, its potential benefits and development, and define the steps to create an effective DRP.
- A network DRP refers to a company’s predetermined course of action to avoid and mitigate the negative impacts that a cybersecurity attack can cause.
- DRPs should be uniquely tailored to an organization’s digital resources and their role in its processes and operations.
- Entities that do not have a DRP are vulnerable to expensive system-wide shutdowns that can potentially cause irreparable damage.
What Should be Included in a Disaster Recovery Plan?
A comprehensive DRP requires clear steps your organization should follow in the event of an unplanned incident that disrupts the online resources a business utilizes. The DRP’s primary goal is to reduce the negative impacts of an unexpected cyberattack and bring your business back to standard operating capacity while avoiding unwanted downtime.
This plan should detail each potential IT complication that may impact an organization’s procedures, as responses will differ depending on the nature of the event. It should also detail instructions based on the location(s) affected. The contents of a DRP need to be clear enough to follow and implement by anyone who’s a part of your company.
Backup and Recovery Procedures
It’s possible that unforeseen circumstances could cause your systems to halt or go offline. An effective DRP should include a protocol that overviews what backup resources an organization has that can help operations continue despite a disaster. While these resources are being used to keep the company afloat, recovery procedures should run concurrently so your organization’s online tools, databases, and IT-related assets can return to normal functionality.
Conducting your business on backup resources alone isn’t optimal, as these procedures can be limited in their ability to bear the total digital weight of any company. This means that your organization might only be able to accomplish a fraction of what it usually could achieve while running on backup resources. So, it’s integral to implement a recovery procedure and a temporary support system to keep some operations going.
Should a severe problem shut down your business capabilities, an emergency site that can handle processes and is also routinely backed up with data can be the quickest way to recover from potential downtime. While the emergency site is being utilized, recovery procedures can be worked on to get your business up and running again.
Your company’s DRP will highlight what actions need to be executed in order of priority to restore functionality. The implementation items will differ depending on the following:
- The industry that the enterprise operates within
- The enterprise’s business vertical
- Type of disaster
- Regional laws
- Software and hardware usage
Clear and detailed instructions will be provided in the DRP regarding how to proceed with recovering your company’s processes and returning them to normal. Once the restoration has been completed, your company should document what actions were taken to salvage operations and how long it took to recover fully.
What are the Benefits of Having a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Your establishment may have iron-clad cybersecurity, a disruption-free history, and active policies to reduce the risk of unwanted incidents. Even so, an internal or external disaster can occur that causes a fraction of or all operations to shut down. A successful DRP can mean the difference between tolerable disruption and irreparable losses. Let’s examine some key benefits of implementing a disaster recovery plan.
A significant benefit of creating a DRP is preventing the loss of a substantial amount of capital. Depending on the nature of your organization, one day of downtime can result in thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions of dollars worth of losses. E-commerce giants such as Amazon would see a severe impact on their income even if their website was to shut down for an hour.
Furthermore, it’s possible that without a DRP, your business may not be able to recover its operations until a third party is hired for costly emergency recovery services.
Productivity & Scalability
Another benefit to having a DRP is the potential for scalability. New departments, locations, and services can change how an organization functions. Each addition to your company can use software that wasn’t previously implemented, digital tools that help with online functionality, and databases with private or confidential information.
Every time your organization scales up, it takes on the risk of more potential disturbances that can disrupt operations. This makes having a DRP crucial, especially when growing your enterprise. As you expand, you can examine the external and internal circumstances that can occur with each new addition. Thus, you can create a step-by-step procedure to mitigate unwanted disturbances.
Avoiding or reducing pauses has the short-term benefit of mitigated losses and helps avoid the long-term problem of customer turnover. Many consumers will think your brand is unreliable if they learn about cybersecurity breaches, server downtime, and other unwanted tech issues. This can lead to attrition, lowering income generated for months, even years. A structured DRP that works for your business can shield you from a potential PR nightmare.
A DRP plan has the capability for your company to uncover some weaknesses and threats to how an entity functions. This discovery can allow business owners to take a proactive approach to potential digital disasters that may occur in the future. You may be able to improve current processes by identifying risk factors and updating or replacing software that’s pivotal to your organization’s operations.
Some DRPs are developed for institutions legally obligated to comply with personal information, such as financial institutions and healthcare organizations. These entities need to safeguard their databases with clients’ and patients’ information. A breach in data can not only lead to churn, but expensive lawsuits too. An effective DRP can avoid personal information leaks or reduce the amount of possibly compromised information.
How do You Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Creating a comprehensive DRP requires a vast knowledge of your company’s digital resources, policies, and procedures. Omitting even just one element of software utilized infrequently or brand new from this plan can lead to a recovery system that only accomplishes a fraction of what it’s supposed to. Or worse, it may not work at all.
It is vital to develop a disaster recovery plan tailored to a company’s IT needs. As a result, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all DRP. Below, we’ll look at some of the core fundamentals of developing a comprehensive and effective plan.
Examining Potential Risks
Determining what risks can harm your company is key to developing a successful DRP. Examine online assets that can be compromised, the repercussions that would be inflicted if digital systems fail, and the different types of risks that your organization is vulnerable to. Knowing potential risks prepares you for accurate prioritization of procedures to recover during a disruption. Prioritizing the right objectives can lead your business to avoid more losses during a disastrous event.
Checking For Disasters
Identifying the exact issue that your organization is experiencing is paramount to developing a DRP. Unforeseen problems may take longer than anticipated to resolve fully. For example, in 2014, when the American multi-media giant Sony Pictures got hacked, the company didn’t even realize its internal documents and customers’ personal information were compromised. This allegedly lasted for two months, according to investigators.
If an active DRP established routine checks, Sony could have reduced the amount of time that it took to identify a problem that severely damaged its brand identity. In order to plan a successful DRP, ensure protocols are in place for checking if your enterprise is currently experiencing any problems or breaches of security.
The items that need to be implemented for your organization to return to normal likely can’t be completed all at once. It’s important to understand the timeline for the recovery of different digital tools and services used by an institution to develop an effective DRP. Consider the following factors when you’re organizing what objectives need to be prioritized during an IT emergency:
- Income generation
- User and client-facing issues
- The number of operations disrupted
It’s crucial to triage a dire situation and identify what needs immediate attention. Typically, these would be your procedures that help with generating income. Or, you might focus on operations that can protect your brand identity. Minimizing negative exposure to your consumers and investors can be the difference between your organization surviving a calamity and irreparable damage.
Trial and error is the final component of developing a successful DRP. Confirming that your business can recover from a disruptive event is the goal during this stage. Testing the developed DRP can help identify vulnerabilities that were overlooked. It also provides you with the opportunity to refine the plan so you can make necessary tweaks to improve it.
Without testing, businesses risk suffering from monetary losses or damaging their reputation, despite having paid for the development of a DRP.
How Does a Disaster Recovery Plan Help Your Business?
A DRP can be a lifeline to any enterprise experiencing a digital catastrophe that threatens or disrupts its operations and procedures. DRPs can help your business by decreasing the downtime of important proceedings. They can also identify outdated software, insecure databases, and other digital components apart of a company that are vulnerable. Finally, this plan can assist you and your business by preventing monetary losses and potential harm to your brand’s identity.
Suffice it to say that every establishment using any kind of digital software, regardless if they’re a for-profit company, a not-for-profit organization, or a government institution, should have a DRP. Organizations are bound to encounter problems during their lifespan, but the difference lies in how you can mitigate those issues from happening. Having a disaster recovery plan is more than a potential option. It’s a necessity that can protect from bankruptcy.
What are the Key Steps of a Disaster Recovery Plan?
This kind of plan always has a structured approach to remedying unwanted disruptions. Having steps in place speeds up the process of recovering systems that have shut down. Additionally, it provides enterprises with the creation of a plan that prevents or avoids significant monetary losses.
Let’s take a broad look at some generalized steps of a robust DRP. Remember, these steps should be created with the knowledge of your own company’s operations, policies, and procedures in order to be appropriately effective.
Identifying the disruption should be the first step. Knowing what’s causing a system collapse is vital for executives to understand how to fix a disaster optimally. Otherwise, you run the risk of applying a solution that’s meant to treat a different problem. This can increase the time that databases, websites, and online resources are down.
Determine who’s responsible for IT procedures and operations at the company. Contacting staff who oversee these areas will help speed up the process of recovering from a disruption. It can also help identify what caused the downtime, which is crucial for revising a new operations plan once a company has returned to normal operations.
Take note of each system impacted by the disruption. Document what software, applications, and digital tools are used. Identifying what’s not working and what each component impacts can help you discover how disruptive a problem is and how much damage the issue can cause. Furthermore, organizations can triage objectives that need to be completed for optimal recovery.
Account for products that are in inventory. What’s sold, unsold, and when the company is supposed to receive more items. This enables staff to measure a certain amount of customers who will experience delayed shipments. Considering your inventory also helps your company know what products may perish during a system outage.
Utilize backup servers to proceed with completing high-ticket items and time-sensitive objectives. Ensure you perform an operations triage to access what needs to be prioritized first. Your backup servers may have the capacity to handle a fraction of your operations or all of them.
Use alternative digital tools to temporarily proceed with paused business processes while executives or emergency IT services work on restoring your organization to normal. The alternatives will depend on the nature of your company and the type of disruption.
Pursue a remedy to fix the disruption after identifying what caused the problem. If it’s impossible to recover a fraction of the entire system that shut down, then it is best to move forward and implement an alternative method that’s more secure.
Review what went wrong and invest in improving the digital resources you recovered to avoid and reduce future unwanted problems. Skipping the review step can result in repeated disasters that may lead to more significant complications.
Perform a penetration test to identify potential procedures vulnerable to being hacked. Penetration tests are intentional cyberattacks orchestrated by the entity improving their cybersecurity to spot which digital tools can be compromised due to malware, phishing scams, hacking and other online attacks. Use the feedback from the trial to reinforce or replace software and applications that may be compromised in the future.
Document the disruption. In addition, record both the time the problem was discovered and how long it took to respond to the incident. Make a list of each action taken to recover the system shutdown, and keep track of monetary losses. Finally, you should take note of any operational items that were replaced after performing a penetration test.
Creating a DRP capable of guiding your enterprise toward a solution should it face a potential disruption is absolutely critical. Even if your organization experiences some losses during the time it takes to restore operations, it’s still considered a victory if you can reduce the number of losses that could have happened without this plan.
If you’re looking to develop a DRP with the help of experienced professionals, our team at Revnet is ready to help. Get in touch with us, and together, we can ensure that your company’s infrastructure has a DRP crafted for success.