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93% of firms without a robust disaster recovery plan that endures a data breach incident had to shut down their operations within a year. In contrast, 96% of firms with a reliable disaster recovery plan were able to outlast ransomware attacksThese figures demonstrate why it is absolutely critical for companies to put in place a robust disaster recovery plan.

As firms today increasingly rely on electronic data for everyday operations, the volume of data and IT infrastructure lost to data breaches continues to grow. Data loss can be damaging to any business. Yet, it is something that only a few businesses are ready to deal with. One way companies can be ready and protect themselves from breaches is to establish a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Companies must develop a disaster recovery plan that can address all kinds of disasters.

What is a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan?

A disaster recovery plan is an official document conceived by a firm that comprises exhaustive guidelines on ways to respond to unforeseen incidents such as cyberattacks, power outages, and any other disruptive incidents. The plan includes approaches on curtailing the effects of an infringement, so a firm can continue their operations or quickly resume after a disruption.

Lengthy disruptions can lead to revenue loss, damage to the brand, and unhappy customers. The longer the recovery time, the bigger the unfavorable business impact. Consequently, a good disaster recovery plan must facilitate rapid recovery, irrespective of the source of the disruption.

An ideal disaster recovery plan outlines a disaster recovery solution that includes processes, business assets, business partners, infrastructure, human resources, and more in the aftermath of a disaster. The disaster recovery plan must be hinged on business impact analysis, risk assessment, and Incidence Response Plan that classifies and collects data about critical business operations, their comparative positionings, susceptibility assessments, attack behaviors, and likely response and recovery plan.

 

Disaster Recovery vs Business Continuity

Disaster recovery is a key component of business continuity planning, but the two are not the same. Business continuity planning (BCP) is largely centered on ensuring that operations are not halted despite disruptions. In contrast, disaster recovery is about getting on the road to recovery from such disruptions. Business continuity plans are often more resource-intensive than disaster recovery plans.

For instance, where a disaster recovery plan may call for a remote server to store copies of vital data, a business continuity plan may have a whole backup production setting that reflects the complete active production server. This backup setting can be scaled up when a disaster hits to flawlessly take over, so others do not notice any trouble in service.

Moreover, business continuity plans might call for certain threat management steps to avert possible disasters from taking place in the first place. For businesses with the resources, having a comprehensive business continuity/ disaster recovery plan in place can be worth the extra cost over a simple disaster recovery solution.

 

What are the Steps Involved in Disaster Recovery Plan?

To create a robust disaster recovery plan, you must stick to the following steps:

  • Audit IT resources: Before planning for everything to return to “normal,” you must understand what normal looks like. By forming an inventory of all of the IT resources on your network, you can streamline things to make it simpler to back up and retrieve information in the future.
  • Ascertain what’s “Mission-Critical”: During an IT asset audit, you may come across data sets that are not important. By sorting out redundant data, you can lower the backup file size, saving storage space.
  • Create roles and responsibilities for all: Each employee in a firm must have a role to play in the disaster recovery plan. Something as simple as informing cybersecurity risks up the chain of command to somebody with more seniority to enforce the DR plan can be critical.
  • Set recovery goals: How fast should your company be able to recover from a disaster? How much data can you afford to lose if there is a disaster? Establishing goals for recovery point and recovery time objectives is crucial in an efficient disaster recovery plan.
  • Look for a remote data storage solution: When a business is struck by a disaster that destroys its primary data, it may be lost forever if there is no remote backup. Currently, the gold standard for remote data backup is a cloud-based solution that can routinely download and copy data every few days.


Create a recovery plan test: Establishing a DR plan for businesses is one thing, it is another thing to understand that plan will work when needed. For this reason, it is essential to have a method for regularly testing disaster recovery plans.

Why is it Important to Test Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

The objective of testing a disaster recovery plan is to understand the shortcomings within the plan. By testing a plan, it is possible to find quick solutions before they deteriorate and disrupt the ability to re-establish key business operations. It is extremely important that businesses test their disaster recovery plan so that they can be well-equipped to cope with any incident that may impinge on critical business processes. 

Likewise, DR testing is essential for managed service providers. Testing disaster recovery plan also boosts their capacity to respond to and recuperate from different breaches, irrespective of whether it is a human-made disaster, a communication breakdown or even a natural disaster. DR testing validates a disaster recovery program and business continuity. 

Also, it is not sufficient to test a disaster recovery plan once in a while. Regular testing is the surest way to guarantee that the IT disaster recovery team or the cyberattack recovery team can restore customer operations immediately after a catastrophe. Companies today can outsource the task of testing the suitability and efficacy of an IT disaster recovery plan.

 

How Do You Test a Disaster Recovery Plan?

There are several steps that can be taken to test a disaster recovery plan. A simple walkthrough to assess process flow with disaster drills and simulations can help in testing the efficacy of the plan. To establish efficient strategies, situations are manifested to quickly manage the disaster. Here is a checklist to testing a disaster recovery plan:

  • Offer a detailed DR testing plan when trying to get authorization and aid to run tests.
  • Identify goals, procedures, and the things that you seek in the post-testing assessments.
  • Form a test team that include SMEs and make sure each person is available for the scheduled date of testing.
  • Find out what needs to be tested, for instance, employee notification system, or the backup and recovery system.
  • Meticulously document and be ready to revise your DR plan and DR testing scripts.
  • Evaluate and verify that all code in test scripts is correct.
  • Incorporate all pertinent tech components and procedures being tested, no matter how insignificant.
  • Make sure the test ecosystem is ready, available and will have no effect on production systems before commencing. Ensure testing does not clash with other activities.
  • Plan a DR test that will take hours, far in advance; inform other IT supervisors of the approaching test.
  • Carry out a dry run before the disaster recovery test goes live to unearth and resolve potential obstacles.
  • Halt and assess the test when problems arise. Resume if the issue can be circumvented; postpone if needed.
  • Appoint a timekeeper to record start and end times and a transcriber to help with the test's after-action report, which illustrates what transpired during the test, what did and did not work and what has been understood.
  • Update disaster recovery and BCP and other documents based on what has been understood from the DR test.

These measures can halt business activities. To avoid any hindrance to your daily operations, non-critical business units must be shut down temporarily while testing is conducted. If an extensive test is carried out, all functions would be interrupted. 

Extensive tests are the best as all processes can entirely be tested in case of an incident. Disasters can affect the whole infrastructure. Moreover, such tests can help in establishing whether or not a firm will recuperate from a disaster or not. Disaster recovery testing will test a company’s strategy and prepare them on simulated scenarios. Triumphs and failures must be documented including any lessons learned during this process. Testing exercises for disasters must be carried out to stay updated and refreshed.

 

How Frequently Should a Disaster Recovery Plan be Tested?

A disaster recovery plan must be evaluated, examined, and reorganized at least once every year. Every time there are major changes made to recovery tactics, human resources, operating software, and IT infrastructure, a business continuity and disaster recovery test must be conducted. 

Frequency of the tests depends on the type of business plan being analyzed. A disaster recovery plan entails the management of activities between multilayered technology configurations and vendor partnerships. The suggestion for DRP testing is every year, but because of the inclusiveness of a business continuity plan, more frequent testing is essential. 

There are BCP and DRP training course to help people become more familiar with the nitty-gritty of disaster recovery testing. Also, there are vendors who offer business continuity management certifications to help conduct sufficient DR testing.

 

After the testing stage of a disaster recovery and business continuity plan, a business can interpret what worked and what did not. All that did not work can be examined to see what can be enhanced so that the process can be altered in favor of the business. The MetricStream Business Continuity Management Product enables an integrated approach to business continuity management processes with abilities to simplify workflows, automate metric computations, and integrate BCM activities.

 

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