Disasters of various natures are unfortunate and can strike businesses at any time, causing significant damage to infrastructure, daily operations, revenue, and reputation. Not every disruptive occurrence qualifies as a disaster – for instance, a power outage might be a nuisance if you have a backup generator and enough fuel. However, outages can also lead to system downtime, data corruption, or hardware damage, making a sound disaster recovery plan or emergency protocols necessary.
This blog post will provide an overview of disaster recovery, explain its importance for your business, and outline the steps to safeguard against disasters and recover from them effectively.
What is disaster recovery?
The term Disaster Recovery (DR) has existed since the 1970s when organizations started acknowledging their reliance on computer systems. It refers to foreseeing, planning, and recovering from a catastrophe that could impact a company.
Disaster recovery involves restoring normal operations after a disaster by regaining access to data, hardware, software, network equipment, power, and connectivity. In cases where facilities are damaged or destroyed, the process may include logistical aspects like identifying alternative work locations, re-establishing communications, or procuring resources such as desks, computers, or transportation for employees.
A disaster recovery plan includes documented processes or procedures to help the organization recover quickly during intense stress. This plan may cover communication with employees about the event, their expected actions, and strategies for resuming business operations afterwards.
Diaster Recover Plan FAQs
What is considered a disaster?
While these events can be natural disasters like a storm, they can also be caused by a severe system failure, an intentional attack, or even human error. Types of disasters can include:
- Natural disasters (for example, earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, or wildfires)
- Pandemics and epidemics
- Cyber attacks (for example, malware, DDoS, and ransomware attacks)
- Other intentional, human-caused threats such as terrorist or biochemical attacks
- Technological hazards (for example, power outages, pipeline explosions, and transportation accidents)
- Machine and hardware failure
Source: Google Cloud: What is a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Do I need a disaster recovery plan?
Disaster recovery (DR) is an organization’s ability to restore access and functionality to IT infrastructure after a disaster event, whether natural or caused by human action (or error). Every business needs to be able to recover quickly from any event that stops day-to-day operations, no matter what industry or size. Without a disaster recovery plan, a company can suffer data loss, reduced productivity, out-of-budget expenses, and reputational damage that can lead to lost customers and revenue.
What does a good disaster recovery plan include?
Creating an effective disaster recovery plan requires extensive planning, testing, and training; however, it can save significant time and resources during times of crisis. Here are 10 essential elements that must be present in every comprehensive disaster recovery plan.
- Business impact analysis
- Risk assessment
- Emergency response plan
- Data backup and recovery plan
- Communication plan
- Establish a recovery team
- Assign priority to systems and applications
- Establish recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO)
- Update the disaster recovery plan regularly
- Conduct team member training and awareness programs
Read more about the 10 essential keys to include in your disaster recovery plan here.
The importance of disaster recovery for your business
The primary goal of DR is to ensure that critical business operations, regardless of size or industry, can resume as quickly as possible after a disaster. It enables the company to regain client trust –and avoid costly repairs and ransom payments.
Why is disaster recovery important for businesses?
1. Minimizes downtime
Disasters can lead to prolonged downtime, resulting in significant financial losses and a loss of customer trust. When a company’s operations are disrupted, it can struggle to meet its customers’ needs, fulfil orders, or provide essential services. This can lead to dissatisfaction, loss of customers, legal issues, fines, and even company reputation damage.
A DR plan helps prevent significant financial losses, such as lost sales, contractual penalties, or recovery expenses, by enabling a rapid response to disasters. Moreover, it helps maintain customer trust and confidence in the company’s ability to navigate challenges and continue delivering its products or services. A robust DR plan is a safety net that allows businesses to recover from disruptions more effectively and maintain their competitive edge in the market.
2. Protects data
Ransomware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and data breaches have many consequences. While managed IT services can mitigate them, a DR plan is critical in safeguarding your data from corruption and loss.
This becomes particularly important when dealing with sensitive information, such as clients’ data, credit card details, financial information, and intellectual property, as breaches in these areas can have severe repercussions for a business.
The DR plan includes the implementation of robust security protocols, access controls, and encryption techniques. Regular data backups, both on-site and off-site, help ensure that critical information can be restored quickly in case of data loss or corruption from cyberattacks or other natural or artificial disasters.
In addition, the plan outlines the processes for recovering lost or compromised data and the steps to notify relevant parties, such as clients and regulatory authorities, when necessary.
3. Ensures compliance
Many industries have regulations and standards requiring businesses to maintain a DR plan. Non-compliance can lead to huge fines and sanctions. For example, in the United States, the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets stringent standards for protecting sensitive patient data in the healthcare sector. It requires companies to implement security measures, including disaster recovery plans, to safeguard electronically protected health information (ePHI).
In Australia, companies that collect, store, and process personal information must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) under the Privacy Act 1988. Principle 11 requires organizations to guard personal information against misuse, loss, unauthorized access, modification, or disclosure. This can include implementing disaster recovery measures to safeguard data.
A DR plan alone is no guarantee for compliance, but it is crucial to the security framework that safeguards sensitive patient information. Non-compliance carries hefty fines, suspensions, and closure.
4. Enhances business reputation
A well-prepared business for disasters demonstrates resiliency, reliability, and professionalism, which can boost its reputation among customers and stakeholders. A Disaster Recovery (DR) plan can be beneficial when applying for disaster loans. A DR plan outlines the processes and procedures a business will follow to restore its operations and minimize the impact of a disaster.
A company that can continue to meet its commitments in the face of adversity demonstrates to customers and stakeholders that it can be trusted to maintain performance standards, deliver on its promises, and recover quickly. It conveys a sense of preparedness, competence, and expertise in managing risks and navigating challenging situations.
Disasters can be catastrophic, but a good DR plan is not just an emergency plan but a blueprint to rise from the ashes. A well-structured DR plan demonstrates a company’s commitment to data security and compliance with industry standards and regulations, enhancing its overall reputation and credibility in the market.
Free resources to implement cyber security:
- Watch the latest Cyber Security Webinar Highlight and Step-by-step Cyber Security Best Practice at our Cyber Security Learning Centre
Benefits of Essential Eight Compliance
The primary benefit of this compliance process is that it provides organisations with better visibility into their current security state and offers actionable steps to establish more robust protective measures.
Additionally, organisations may find cost savings from having fewer breaches or incidents due to improved processes. Many organisations, such as government departments and major banks, have already seen success by implementing the guidelines set out in the Essential Eight Compliance Framework.
As more businesses become aware of these benefits and begin following the protocols outlined in this framework, they will likely experience similar successes.