Your network, systems, and data must be accessible, functional, and efficient wherever and whenever they’re needed. It seems obvious, but you might be surprised at how little thought some organizations give to the possibility of systems going down. If your internal — or worse, external — users can’t access your systems, your business is at risk. And that is why availability and disaster recovery plans are crucial to your company’s success.
The ultimate goal of availability management is to ensure that you’re always on.
A comprehensive availability and disaster recovery plan includes strategies to provide a stable network and protect data from interception and loss during disasters — whether they are man-made or natural. Data lost to hackers or hurricanes can cost you dearly while damaging your reputation and exposing you to unnecessary financial and legal risks.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Availability management is at the core of any IT service management plan and closely correlates with service value. Unrecoverable data loss can affect both customers and employees alike and have severe repercussions for your organization, including lost revenue, a damaged reputation, and even litigation.
What can affect the availability of your data and systems?
- Hardware Failure
- Human Error (average cost: $3.5 million)
- System Failure
- Natural Disaster
- Computer Virus (90% of malware has evolved to circumvent defenses)
- Accidental Deletion
- Power Outage (Downtime costs between $10k and $5M per hour on average)
Waiting for an incident to occur — or for regulatory bodies to force your hand on compliance — can be a costly mistake. Incidents of any type can disrupt your daily operations. Remediation and recovery can be expensive prospects. Any plan is better than no plan at all, and developing an availability and disaster recovery plan doesn’t have to be complex. Even a part-time information security officer can help you formulate one.
Creating an IT Disaster Recovery Plan
The development of a business disaster recovery plan should be an integral part of your information security program. A strategy for how to deal with a cybersecurity incident is incomplete if it doesn’t include steps for maintaining system and data availability.
Development of a robust IT disaster recovery plan will include the following three steps:
1. Analyze Business Impact
The first step in preparing for the worst is understanding exactly what the worst entails. What will happen to your organization in the event of a data breach? What about a natural disaster? Look at the big picture here. Don’t just focus on internal operations — consider every aspect of what disruption will mean for your business.
- Review existing business continuity capabilities (if applicable)
- Identify critical business functions and their dependencies
- Estimate the impact of disruptions (operational, financial, legal, reputation, client goodwill, etc.)
- Estimate the timeframe for recovery
2. Develop a Strategy
Once you’ve identified and prioritized your business-critical continuity systems, it’s time to work on protecting them (as well as other systems that depend on them). Understanding dependencies is vital here. If System A is critical to your operations, obviously it must be protected. But if System A is dependent on System B, then System B must be equally protected.
Ensure your strategy includes necessary IT resources, security concerns, and data retention solutions.
3. Document Everything
The final step in creating your IT disaster recovery plan is documenting it. Every member of your team should understand exactly what to do if and when disaster strikes. (A cybersecurity governance plan can also help ensure different departments and team members know their responsibilities.)
Consider including these elements:
Who should staff members contact in the event of a disaster? How should they communicate? Who is responsible for notifications or declarations?
What action should be taken and by whom? Include clear instructions for the recovery team, facilities management, and operations managers.
We Understand Availability
At AISN, we understand that your organization needs security, performance, and reliability from a system that can be regularly serviced and carefully maintained to ensure you’re prepared for anything. If you’d like assistance developing or implementing an IT disaster recovery plan, our experts can help. Have other questions about availability or information security? Talk to us today.