Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention, Technology & Software

IT Disaster Recovery Strategy: 8 Steps to Protect Your IT Equipment

40% of small businesses risk being wiped out by natural disasters.

Companies today have to contend with the idea of unexpected disasters that can put them at risk.

While natural disasters are the more noticeable ones that garner public shock and sympathy, other disasters also pose a risk. From your typical power outage to malicious cyber-attacks, firms have to design a plan to recover.

It is against this backdrop that having an Information Technology (IT) disaster recovery policy is critical. Every company needs to sustain its IT infrastructure for continuity.

Here are steps that can help you design a disaster recovery strategy.

1. Take Inventory to Begin Your Disaster Recovery Policy Formulation

When an organization is thinking of developing a business disaster recovery plan it has first to take an inventory. No organization can formulate a recovery plan if it does not know what it needs to protect.

Take note of all the IT assets. These can include:

• Servers
• Applications
• Network appliances
• Access points
• Network switches
• Data
• Storage devices

As you identify each asset, you need to create a map to show where it is physically located. You also need to take note of the network each asset is on.

Make sure to critically assess if there is any dependency that makes the asset vulnerable.

Your inventory should list the assets in descending order of priority. Doing so will make it easy to tell what kind of attention to pay to each asset during a disaster.

Pair each asset in the inventory with its vendor technical support contract information and contacts. Having the information at hand will help reduce downtime via a quick recovery.

2. Conduct Risk Assessments

The second thing on the disaster recovery plan checklist is to run a risk assessment study.

Now that you know what you are protecting via the asset inventory you need to rate potential risk scenarios.

Comb through each list and perform a threat analysis to predict worst case situations. Be thorough and try to think outside the box.

Understand the likely impact from each predicted event to know how to best recover from it and involve the rest of the team during risk assessment.

Also, pay close attention to any potential security breach in the event of a disaster.

3. Rate How Critical Each Asset Is

Recovering from a disaster is in large part influenced by the prior understanding of how critical each asset is to continuity.

Before designing your network disaster recovery plan, speak to your team to know the essential nature of each asset. Without any context for your plan, you will likely develop a policy that isn’t accurate.

Watch out for the temptation to classify each asset separately. The proper approach should be to look for common levels of criticality and organize them together.

During recovery, it will be easier to get back up again due to less complexity.

4. Craft the Recovery Objectives

Different companies will have different objectives behind their recovery plans.

The nature of the business will influence this part of the plan, and you need input from the managers. If you do not consult them, you will create inaccurate objectives.

For example, you need on-the-ground knowledge on how downtime can expose the firm’s security. You can learn more here about the tools your firm needs to stay secure.

Consult your line managers to understand any weak points if any downtime was to occur. As a result, you will accurately determine the best security objective to get back to safety.

Seek to have a clear grasp of your company’s needs to design the most suitable recovery targets.

5. Select the Tools and Tactics You Will Use

Once you know your assets, their vulnerability, and your recovery objectives, you need to look at the tools you need.

Every disaster recovery plan checklist should include what you will use to facilitate the process.

While there are various options, focus on those offering suitable protection. If you over-protect, you will unnecessarily increase your overheads. On the other hand, being under protected could put your data and other IT assets at risk.

Offsite data protection is critical despite the other measures you may use. Ensure to automate as much of the recovery as possible to avoid human error and lack of enough hands in recovery.

6. Define Responsibilities

It is imperative that you determine and assign responsibility for various roles in disaster recovery to avoid confusion.

If you are not clear about who is responsible for what part of the plan, it will fail.

Decide on who can officially declare a disaster in the firm. An authorized source will provide clarity in information flow during panic times in the disaster.

Set out the process by which responsible parties can be contacted during a disaster. The step-by-step foreknowledge will cut downtime since people know how to respond.

7. Document and Communicate It

Bring together all the pieces of your policy by creating an IT disaster recovery planning template. A written down reference provides information team members can reference during panic times.

Documenting the plan also makes it easier to improve it after a disaster highlights any weaknesses in it.

Complement the written recovery plan by communicating it so that everyone is aware. When you create awareness there will be alignment should the worst occur.

8. Practice Makes Perfect

The best disaster recovery strategy will be of little use if no trials are carried out beforehand. During a disaster, people need to rely on instinct to counter reduced objectivity due to panic.

When you carry out repeated drills after communicating it, the plan becomes second nature.

Additionally, repeat testing will expose weak points in the strategy for you to improve upon. For example, if a key employee in the plan has changed their phone number, only continuous testing will indicate that.

A testing schedule will help automate continuous drilling. Your company’s recovery efforts will only be as good as its last test.

Do Not Hide Your Head in the Sand

Unexpected disasters threaten every business in existence.

Unless a company intentionally takes steps to anticipate these disasters, it risks failure. A disaster recovery policy is a crucial tool that will help firms get back on their feet faster.

Do not craft your recovery plan in isolation to avoid blind spots. Rope in all the employees and ensure that you regularly practice it to improve your preparedness.

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