In 2020 alone, over 155.8 million individuals were affected by a data breach.
Whether you’re working at a small or large company, there’s likely a large amount of data within the company that needs to be protected. With cybersecurity attacks on that data becoming more common and more complicated to avoid each year, it’s more important than ever that companies have a disaster recovery plan to help resolve any data losses quickly — and to help minimize the effects of disasters in the first place.
What Is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
The first step to creating an information technology disaster recovery plan is having a solid understanding of what a disaster recovery plan is and why it is important. An IT disaster recovery plan, sometimes called a DRP or a business continuity plan, is a formal documented policy or process that a company or organization has in place to implement immediately if something goes wrong within a business’s IT infrastructure. These plans typically include a step-by-step process that consists of ways to minimize the impact of a data breach and an action plan as to what to do if that data breach does occur.
The goal of a disaster recovery plan is to act as quickly and efficiently as possible to help recover and secure any affected data and reduce downtime to minimize any financial and reputational damage that might occur. These plans often involve employees spanning from high-level management down to entry-level positions. They aim to get everyone involved to increase their effectiveness.
Why Is a Disaster Recovery Plan Important?
With an increase in data and the desire to provide excellent customer service and experiences, businesses are leaning on cloud data storage solutions. While these cloud storage solutions are great from an organizational and convenience standpoint, they tend to lack the ability to store information securely, often resulting in frequent outages and even cyberattacks.
Why else should businesses consider creating a disaster recovery plan?
- They help decrease any disruptions to normal business operations.
- They reduce the reputational damage that can occur when a data breach occurs.
- They help avoid the issues and damages from ever happening in the first place.
- They help minimize the financial impact of the interruption.
- They establish other forms of operations in advance.
- They help build trust within a customer and help increase customer retention and loyalty.
With most businesses operating in a 24/7 world that never stops or slows down, the impact of an outage or disruption to an organization can be tremendous — even devastating to some. Businesses need to have an IT disaster recovery plan in place to help restore operations within minutes, if not seconds, of any disruption that might take place.
Types of Disaster Recovery Plans
It’s essential to tailor your IT disaster recovery plan to fit your organization’s specific needs. Some of the most common disaster recovery plans include the following:
- Virtualized disaster recovery plan: A virtual disaster recovery plan works by creating a virtual version of your system, data or software and storing it in a location with no ties to any physical location. One of the benefits of a virtualized environment is that it can create a new virtual machine instantly to help begin the recovery process.
- Network disaster recovery plan: A network disaster is typically caused by human error, but it’s just as important to resolve it as quickly as any other disaster. A network disaster plan is designed specifically for internet and external network infrastructures. These plans become more complicated as a network increases in complexity.
- Cloud disaster recovery plan: Cloud disaster recovery plans, also known as cloud DR, range from having a simple file backup in the cloud to having full business replications. Cloud DR tends to be one of the most cost and time-effective of the different IT disaster recovery plans, but it has the highest risk for security breaches.
- Data center disaster recovery plan: What makes a data center disaster recovery plan unique from the other DRPs is the fact that it solely focuses on recovering data that is lost or breached. It works to help minimize the impact of a disaster as well as try to avoid them altogether.
What to Include in Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan
While every IT disaster recovery plan is a bit different, they all tend to follow the same structure and include the same material. Here is a checklist of what your IT disaster recovery plan should include:
- Goals: What does your organization want to achieve with this disaster recovery plan? What is your goal recovery time object (ROT)? What maximum amount of downtime do you want to allow? What is considered an acceptable amount of data loss?
- Personnel: Who will be assisting with and supervising the IT disaster recovery plan?
- IT usage: Determine any hardware and software assets that you are using and provide any necessary details about them.
- Backup plan: Explain how and where all of your data is going to be backed up and how to recover from backup.
- Disaster recovery site: Where is your alternate data center with any critical data replicated, and how will you access it in the moment of a disaster?
- Restoration: What are your plans for recovering from a complete system loss and getting back to normal operations?
How to Create Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan
Now that you have a solid understanding of what an IT disaster recovery plan is and why it is so important to have one set for your business, you can start to customize and create a DRP. While your plan should be custom-fit to your organization’s needs, you can expect to follow these disaster recovery plan steps:
- Select a team: Pick a team that is going to be responsible for executing the DRP and maintaining it.
- Determine your assets: Map out what assets will be necessary for you to complete this project. Your list might include network equipment, cloud services, hardware and software.
- Add context to your assets: Determine if the above assets are used and classify them as low-impact, medium-impact or high-impact based on how they affect business operations. Make sure to record items like manufacturer, model, serial number and cost.
- Identify threats: Perform a risk assessment to help identify any potential threats to your business.
- Set goals: Determine the goals and recovery objectives that you would like to achieve if a disaster occurs.
- Determine your disaster recovery procedures: You should address emergency response procedures in response to natural disasters, detailed backup operations procedures to make sure that data can be recovered after disruption, and recovery action procedures to ensure quick recovery of data processing systems.
- Set a budget: Determine a set amount of money that can be spent on disaster recovery technology.
- Get approval: Get final approval from management.
- Test and review: Conduct realistic disaster scenarios and see how your staff acts according to the plan. Modify the plan based on the outcome.
Reach out to Learn More About Keeping Your Data Secure
The question at hand is not if you should have an IT disaster recovery plan — it’s what steps you’re taking to implement it. Your business has too much to lose if a disaster hits. Make sure you have a strong IT disaster recovery plan in place.