Why IT recovery plans are important – Is it time to reevaluate yours?
The need for effective disaster recovery planning is a crucial segment of today’s IT security practices.
There are many potential causes for disasters, with cyber-attacks being the most prevalent. Every organization with an online presence is vulnerable to this kind of criminal activity and the numbers tell a grim story. Gartner research found that more than 80% of organizations have been successfully attacked, more than half have experienced four or more such events, and just under 40% have had five or more. Small businesses are especially susceptible.
Cyber-threats are only one category of disasters. Other types are less frequent but can inflict as much or more devastation. New threats appear continually and every company’s IT setup evolves over time, so even the best recovery plans need frequent and regularly scheduled reevaluation.
The business world is more IT-sophisticated than ever, and companies expect the organizations with which they interact to keep up with the times. With the perpetual advancement of IT tools, trends, and techniques, businesses are increasingly pressed to deliver goods and services quickly.
So, unless you are on top of every aspect of your IT recovery processes and have created and continued to maintain a plan to support them, a refresher may be in order.
Why IT recovery plans matter
- Disasters happen.
- Shutdowns are expensive. No matter why or how your IT functions freeze up, high downtime costs are always possible, from data loss to diminished IT capabilities to a damaged reputation.
- Your disaster affects your customers and vendors. If orders go unfilled, communications become disrupted, or your performance is impaired, your most important contacts can be seriously harmed, without warning. If your system is hacked, the infection can spread to every entity to whom you are connected.
- Regulators can require IT recovery plans.
- To an increasing extent, insurance coverage can demand demonstrable IT recovery capabilities.
Disaster takes many forms
As mentioned, the most prominent of such challenges are cyber-attacks, which grow in number as new IT developments arise. New technological advances often carry new risks.
Similarly, single points of failure in a company’s security armor allow even the strongest defenses to be penetrated. A good plan identifies those vulnerabilities and takes steps to eliminate them. In addition, an emergency recovery plan clearly delineates procedures and responsibilities so that everyone knows where everything is, what to do in any emergency, and who is responsible for what. This way, the entire organization is on the same page throughout the disaster recovery process.
Some of the most easily overlooked malware entry pathways are created by the small devices and programs that users casually attach to systems, often without the knowledge or approval of IT staff. Mobile devices can create endpoints vulnerable to attack, and users may be unaware that their devices are not secure by default. As a Forsythe Solutions Group, Inc. article entitled Mobile Device Security in the Workplace: 6 Key Risks & Challenge points out, "With the right (inexpensive) equipment, hackers can gain access to a nearby mobile device in less than 30 seconds and either mirror the device and see everything on it, or install malware that will enable them to siphon data from it at their leisure."
In addition, innovations like digital transformation, as much of an advance as they may be, can add to problems of this kind by introducing potential penetration points.
Another risk is data leaks. Such problems require close attention and an understanding of how to prevent them.
Besides cyber-attacks, other significant threats are posed by completely different causes. These are generally hard to anticipate.
Natural disasters include hurricanes, earthquakes, and, increasingly, floods. Others are manmade, such as highway and railway accidents, utility failures, and chemical and oil spills. Of course, fires can be caused by natural events or human activity.
At the most extreme end of a disaster, possibilities are events that make it impossible for work to continue at your usual location. The only solutions to such disasters are offsite capabilities that enable you to restart operations rapidly. This can be achieved by exploiting the possibilities of cloud storage and working with a trusted vendor to set up a functioning alternate physical site.
Among potential risks, day-to-day operator error is in a class by itself. Employee mischief is always possible, but a person need not be disloyal or incompetent to cause major damage by making a small mistake. The most effective safeguards against both sabotage and human error are good communications, employee education, and training.
Planning the plan
Begin by thinking about where your company is now. Do you have IT recovery processes in place? Are those processes the result of careful planning? How well do your tools and solutions fit your company? Is each component the best choice for its function? Does each meet the needs of your current business model and IT environment?
Calculate your costs of downtime and review the fundamentals that every recovery plan should contain. Then look at potential threats to identify the key steps in developing and refining your plan. Determine the level of detail a plan requires, who should be responsible for what, and a schedule for ongoing testing of the plan. We cannot overemphasize this last point.
The tools and solutions you select need not to be the most complex, expensive, or feature-rich, but they should be the right choices for your company. Be prepared to consider fresh options and alternative possibilities.
Always keep in mind that the best plan and the best implementation with the best tools and solutions can become outdated and vulnerable with a single change to the system, even a minor one. The same is true for ongoing developments in the wider IT world, so stay abreast of new products and conditions that might have an impact on your disaster recovery capabilities. Once again, remember to reexamine your plans in deep detail on a frequent, regularly scheduled basis.
Planning for IT recovery is a complex endeavor that requires a serious time commitment, highly focused attention, investment, and most importantly, expertise. That’s what RenovoData can provide, throughout the whole IT recovery planning process.