Implementing a disaster recovery plan can often be a daunting task. When it comes to ensuring the security and continuity of your business’s data, there are a lot of factors for companies to consider. Everything, from identifying risk areas to choosing a location to host the disaster recovery site, takes time money and resources that many companies do not have.
For this reason, most organizations don’t think about Disaster Recovery (DR) until there’s a problem. Without a proactive plan, these companies are forced to be reactive in the event of a disaster. In the worst scenario, this lack of preparation can result in the dissolution of a business entirely.
Keeping the lights on for your business requires regular work on a DR plan to ensure that your data is secure from catastrophic loss in the event of a disaster. To help you get started with your disaster strategy planning, here are 5 things to implement while creating your company’s DR plan:
The first step in developing a DR plan is to establish a dedicated team responsible for implementation on the plan. This team will help your company maintain focus on DR, perform regular security audits and manage the recovery of your data in the event of a disaster. If your business is a multi-location organization, each specific location should have an established team that works with the corporate entity around DR. If your business is on the medium to small side, it may not be realistic to establish a dedicated DR team. In this case, you may consider outsourcing this team to a managed services provider. Managed services providers will monitor your environment, notify you of potential risks, and allow you to proactively address threats.
The goal of DR is risk reduction. Thus, creating a checklist of the risk your organization faces can help guide your core DR strategy. According to the Department of Homeland Security, “… a risk assessment is a process to identify potential hazards and analyze what could happen if a hazard occurs.” When it comes to protecting data from risk, it’s important to understand what that risk is and how it will impact your business. Thus, it is also important to conduct a Business Impact Analysis. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) allows you to predict the realistic consequences of the disruption of business due to the risk. Both, Risk Assessment and BIA are important when implementing your DR plan.
The three-two-one rule is the guiding principle of backup and disaster recovery. It states that at all times, there should be three copies of your data, on two forms of media, with one copy located offsite. This rule brings to light the importance of redundancy in your backup and disaster recovery plans. Having three copies of data accounts for the possibilities of human error, technical failure, and unforeseen disaster. If your data stored on traditional tape backups begins to degrade, for example, your second or third copies (stored either in the cloud or on a third media) will ensure the data’s integrity. Additionally, the data that is stored offsite will provide extra assurance in the event of a natural disaster. For this reason, it is important that the offsite location is at least 500 miles away from the onsite location. By following this rule, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of data loss in the event of a disaster.
One of the most frequently forgotten steps in a DR plan is actually putting the plan to the test. Often, organizations that are proactive in regards to DR will discover several unaddressed risks through the testing process. For this reason, it is imperative to conduct a test run of your DR plan prior to its implementation. For most organizations, it is tempting to skip this step of DR planning due to additional time, resources and costs that need to be allocated. However, in the event of the disaster, you will be thankful you completed this step when your data recovery is more effective.
Don’t be the person blamed for not having a plan when disaster strikes. Be the person who created the plan from scratch, and implemented it fearlessly. When proposing that your organization implement a DR plan, you should suggest three different options for review. One that is a cost–effective solution (this option will most likely have limited security, but will be a good base for them to lean on), one that is a complete solution (this one will most-likely have a pretty heavy price tag, but will help show management all of their options), and one that is the sweet spot. This sweet spot will be the best bang for their buck. This is where the most important factors to the organization lie; chiseling out the least important risks to your organization.
Yes, DR is a hefty concept, and yes, a lot of details, plans and strategy goes into an effective DR plan. But once DR is implemented correctly and completely, your company can sleep easy knowing your data is protected. In this day and age, with hackers, trolls and terror organizations searching for easy targets to attack, DR is not an optional investment. Additionally, with advancements in security assurances of Cloud Computing, and increased demand for affordable solutions, DR doesn’t have to be an expensive investment.