As cyber-attacks get more sophisticated in their ability to breach an organization’s infrastructure, the importance of risk management increases. Malware, ransomware, and other attacks can cause tremendous damage to your business.
Furthermore, security breaches aren’t the only risk management concern you have. Natural disasters or other outages at colocation data centers are beyond a company’s ability to prevent, but still pose dire threats to your operations.
For this reason, organizations must consider how they can maintain business continuity and disaster recovery, should any of these circumstances occur. Having a business continuity plan can enhance your preparedness for a disaster, reduce downtime when one happens, and contain the financial costs the disaster might cause.
In this post we’ll share how to create a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP); and provide a template to help your organization assure you’ve examined all potential outcomes, and have sufficient disaster recovery planning in place to prevail when disaster strikes.
What is a disaster recovery plan?
A DRP is your organization’s documented framework for how you will recover data and critical functions in the event of a disaster. The disaster could be a cybersecurity incident, a power outage, or any other unplanned incident that disrupts your organization’s ability to conduct day-to-day business operations.
Your disaster recovery plan goes hand-in-hand with your business continuity plan (BCP). A BCP details how you will continue your business processes and use information technology (IT) infrastructure immediately following a disaster. The disaster recovery plan then brings you from that diminished state back to normal, pre-disaster operation.
DRPs are important because they help your organization to recover lost data to restore IT system functionality disrupted by the incident.
*While this post is primarily focused on DRPs, if you would like to learn more about creating a business continuity plan, check out our Business Continuity Checklist.
What considerations should go into disaster recovery planning?
Your DRP should begin with an assessment of disaster-related risks and a business impact analysis for your critical applications. It should also list the steps necessary to restore those mission-critical operations if they suddenly cease. Then outline how you plan to minimize the effects of a disaster.
The plan should also include recovery point objectives (RPOs), which are the restoration points you want to achieve with data recovery. For example: “When we restore operations from an outage, we want all the data and IT functionality we had one hour before systems went offline.” The plan should also include recovery time objectives (RTOs), which define how quickly you want to restore operations: “We want to restore normal operations within three hours of the incident.”
When developing a disaster recovery strategy, consider the following:
- How much budget is available to develop and implement a DRP?
- Is there any insurance coverage in place to supplement financial recovery?
- What resources can you dedicate to a recovery team?
- What technology (both off-site and on-site) will be affected?
- What data storage and protection methods do you have in place?
- Do you have a Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) plan in place?
- Do you have support from key stakeholders in the enterprise?
- Does the DRP align with overall organizational goals?
- What are your compliance requirements as they relate to your DRP?
*You can learn more about how to make business continuity and disaster recovery plans with the attached resource. We will also include a DRP template at the end of this post.
How do compliance frameworks affect disaster recovery planning?
Depending on your industry, regulatory compliance can be a significant concern for the development of your disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
While most laws and regulations simply state that an organization is responsible for implementing a disaster recovery planning process, numerous laws include specific requirements for data protection and risk management for IT infrastructure. For example:
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) states that corporate officers are liable for business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
- The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) requires due diligence for the availability of data in electronic funds transfers, including at the point-of-sale, after a disaster.
- The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires businesses that handle protected health information (PHI) to have a data back-up plan, disaster recovery emergency plan, and emergency mode operations plans.
- The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requires federally regulated organizations to ensure that electronic data is available during a crisis.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology Standard 800-34 mandates business continuity, disaster recovery, and continuity of operations (COOP) plans. NIST 800-53 recommends security controls for federal Information systems and provides details on policy, procedures, plans, training, testing, and updating disaster recovery plans.
Your Free Disaster Recovery Plan Template
To be confident that your systems and data are protected in the event of a disaster, and that your business can restore functionality as quickly as possible, we recommend that you include the following sections while writing your recovery plan:
- An inventory of your hardware and software
- Your tolerance level for downtime and data loss
- Who is on your recovery team, including their contact information
- How your team will communicate during disaster recovery execution
- The location for your recovery site
- Specifications about disasters to include in your SLAs
- A routine testing schedule for your recovery plan
To help you get started, we’ve created a FREE disaster recovery template that you can use to get started drafting yours.
How ZenGRC Supports Disaster Recovery Planning
Disaster recovery planning requires cooperation and communication throughout your organization to achieve the goals set forth in the plan.
With ZenGRC, you can create a disaster recovery plan that focuses on risk management, incident response handling, documentation, and recovery processes. Our task management feature lets you assign tasks to those responsible for them, and track task completion.
And because we’re a SaaS platform, you can maintain operations even when your physical facilities are down.
Zen’s centralized dashboard gives managers and stakeholders a user-friendly view of activities and key performance indicators for your disaster recovery program.