Does your business have a disaster recovery plan if the worst were to happen?
Picture this: a hacker intercepts your business network, shutting off access for your entire company. All devices, software, and data are in the hacker’s hands. Now what? If you have a disaster recovery plan, you’ll know what to do next.
Disaster recovery plans are essential for any company relying on online systems. Without one, your business could face irreparable damage, not to mention delayed downtime and interruption to operations. So, let’s look in more detail at what a disaster recovery plan is and how to get started.
What is a disaster recovery policy?
A disaster recovery policy refers to the plans and procedures to recover IT systems and infrastructure if compromised. Essentially, it’s the steps you take to protect your business and essential information from further damage and loss.
Usually, a disaster recovery plan forms part of your business continuity plan; however, it should focus solely on IT systems, software, and common threats. These could include fire, flood, theft, and cyber attacks, such as hacking and malware.
Why is a disaster recovery plan so important?
Disasters can drastically impact business output, especially downtime. While a temporary network problem may lead to a few annoyed customers, complete loss or theft of data can have more severe consequences, including fraud. Therefore, having a disaster recovery plan is critical for ensuring your business can get back up and running with minimal damage.
In particular, disaster recovery plans help to:
- Minimise interruptions to business operations.
- Limit the extent of disruption and damage.
- Minimise economic and financial impact.
- Outline responsibilities and train personnel with emergency procedures.
- Establish an alternative means of operation for business continuity.
- Ensure smooth and rapid business recovery.
What should be included in a disaster recovery plan?
For a disaster recovery policy to work, it needs careful planning. It’s not just a case of outlining what data you store and where the data backup site is located. Instead, your disaster recovery plan should be highly detailed, including everything from recovery sites to key roles and responsibilities of personnel.
Disaster recovery plans typically include:
- Goals: Outline your goals for disaster recovery, including the time frame you wish to recover systems by and how much data you can acceptably use without impacting your business significantly.
- Responsibilities: Detail responsibilities of key personnel during and after a disaster; for example, individuals responsible for accessing data backups or notifying employees.
- IT inventory: Create a list of all hardware, software, cloud systems, and other IT assets, detailing their role in business operations (especially if they’re critical), whether they’re leased, owned, or rented, and who has access to them.
- Backup procedures: Outline how, where, and which data is backed up; for example, in the cloud or on specific devices.
- Disaster recovery procedures: Cover the steps needed during a disaster to recover data and systems, such as additional backups, emergency response protocols, and cyber threat management.
- Disaster recovery sites: List all disaster recovery sites housing data backups. These are usually located remotely.
- Restoration procedures: Outline the steps to recover data and systems following a disaster, and to review the success of your plan afterwards.
How does disaster recovery work?
A disaster recovery policy relies on two factors: the recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO). Both are crucial for ensuring your disaster recovery plan is effective and minimises the impact on your business. So, what do these terms mean?
Recovery point objective (RPO)
The RPO refers to the maximum amount of data your company could lose during a disaster without a significant impact on operations. For instance, you may determine that your business could lose around 5 hours of data before suffering significant consequences. As a result, you’d need to schedule backups every 5 hours, at a minimum.
Recovery time objective (RTO)
The RTO is the maximum amount of system downtime your organisation can experience during a disaster with minimal impact on business. For example, your business may only handle a maximum of 4 hours downtime. Therefore, you have 4 hours to recover systems after a disaster to avoid irreparable damage.
Steps to create a disaster recovery plan
Creating a disaster recovery plan requires a full assessment of your business’ IT infrastructure. First, you must conduct a cyber security assessment to understand the risks to your IT systems and highlight threats. Then, you need to decide what the recovery steps are, and who should be doing what.
To create your recovery plan, follow these steps:
- Conduct a risk assessment – Determine which disasters could take place and what could happen to your business. Remember to include all potential disasters, from a half-hour server problem to the full loss of your business premises.
- Evaluate department needs – Establish critical conditions for each department during a disaster and consider how threats can affect them. For instance, if the IT team loses access to their devices.
- Set recovery plan objectives – Determine the crucial recovery steps and outline equipment, data, personnel, software, and anything else needed to meet those objectives. Organise goals by most to least important depending on the impact on your business. You should also determine the RTO and RPO.
- Collect necessary data – Collect data needed to create your plan, such as employee lists, access lists, passwords, data storage locations, recovery sites, and any other inventories or essential information.
- Write the recovery plan – Write the recovery plan in coordination with key personnel and ensure all necessary individuals have approved the written document.
- Test and revise the plan – Run a disaster recovery test to determine its effectiveness, and adjust where necessary.
Benefits of implementing a disaster recovery plan
Disaster recovery policies are an essential part of business continuity. They ensure your business can continue operating during a disaster while minimising downtime and negative impact on operations. In addition, disaster recovery plans can benefit customer satisfaction, costs, and legal compliance. Here are some of the top benefits:
- Cost efficiency – By putting recovery steps in place, you can reduce further costs down the line; for example, those caused by downtime.
- Increased productivity – With greater awareness of disasters, you can increase productivity and accountability among employees, easily identifying any potential problems.
- Improved customer satisfaction – Taking steps to secure customers’ data is paramount, as well as showing how you prevent your services from being interrupted.
- Legal compliance – Disaster recovery plans can help businesses comply with specific legislation surrounding data security and downtime.
- Business scalability – Most disaster recovery plans include cloud-based storage systems, which streamline IT processes and provide greater opportunity for business scalability, especially data storage and application use.
How can Fabric IT help with disaster recovery?
Fabric IT works with businesses of all sizes across various industries, offering scalable, cost-effective cloud-based solutions and cyber security software.
Our bespoke cloud-based solutions include Microsoft Azure and Azure Cloud Backup, providing your business with a live, secure backup of all business data. So, should yu face any disasters, you can access everything you need quickly and securely while actioning your recovery policy, minimising downtime and interruption. To find out how our cloud services can help your business, speak with an expert by calling 01625 443110.