Disaster recovery (DR) planning is one of the most important roles of any IT department. While proactivity is an essential part of any technology strategy, there will always be a chance of the unexpected occurring. This can lead to severe downtime and/or data loss. This is unacceptable, especially at a time when people are entrusting you with their digital information, and it doesn’t take long before disgruntled customers will start looking elsewhere.
As the experts often say, failing to plan is like planning to fail, which is why you need to prepare for the worst with a disaster-proof technology strategy that will see you through any eventuality. Here are some of the fundamental features of any decent disaster recovery strategy:
#1. Analyze the Threat
Today’s businesses face a multitude of digital and physical threats, but that doesn’t mean the threat landscape is the same for every business. It’s not about determining whether your business is a target either. The truth is that every company is a target, no matter its size and industry. In fact, small businesses in particular are among the favorite targets for hackers, since they’re often perceived to be ill equipped.
The precise nature of the threats facing your business depend heavily on the devices and software your company relies on. Start the disaster recovery planning process by drawing up a profile of your networked machines, as well as any other devices used for work, such as employee-owned (BYOD) smartphones and laptops. Then, consider every possible scenario, such as natural disasters and data breaches, and how they could affect your systems.
#2. Keeping it Current
The cyber threat landscape changes constantly as new attack methods appear and innovative scams make their way around the internet. After all, any successful data breach takes victims off-guard and often comes as a huge surprise to the industry as sensational headlines abound. The dynamic nature of technology means that threats are always evolving and changing, and that means your disaster recovery plan must evolve with it.
A disaster recovery plan is only as effective as it is current. If, for example, you fail to update your plan after implementing a major system upgrade or migration, you’ll be leaving a big gap in your strategy that leaves your whole business vulnerable. That’s why successful businesses regularly audit their disaster recovery plans (at least once annually) or whenever they’ve made any significant changes to their systems.
#3. Establish Roles
Technology might be a key enabler of doing business in the modern world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the be all and end all. We’re a long way off from being able to fully automate disaster recovery, hence the need to include employee roles in your plan. A common issue with many strategies is that almost all the focus is on technology, which will be useless if no one knows how to implement it during a time of need.
It’s imperative that all your employees are onboard with the process and that your plan is built around the needs and conditions of your entire organization. You’ll need to clearly define employee roles during the execution of a plan, and you’ll need to have their emergency contacts on file where they’re easily accessible. Staff need to know exactly what their duties are, what to do and whom to call if disaster strikes.
#4. Set Expectations
Not every asset your business has needs to be a top priority, especially if you end up with bigger problems to tackle. For example, chances are your email accounts will be more important than your point of sale systems, which might be easily replaced. It’s also important to determine the value of your data to your organization – marketing content, for example, isn’t as important as sensitive customer data.
Aside from prioritizing your various systems in your disaster recovery strategy, you’ll need to define a recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). These figures determine how much data you can afford to lose and the maximum amount of time an affected system can be offline without your company suffering unacceptable loss. You’ll likely assign different parameters to different systems.