Whenever blizzards and hurricanes start impacting businesses, disaster recovery and business continuity become hot topics among business owners. Most companies typically have policies that outline the different steps needed to both revive the business after a disaster and keep the daily operations ongoing throughout such disasters. However, you will need to use different strategies for your business to indulge in stellar disaster recovery or business continuity initiatives.
Here is how business continuity and disaster recovery differ:
Business Continuity in a Nutshell
Business continuity, as pointed out by the International Standards Organization, came into existence from regulators and governments identifying the need to shield the effects of disastrous and disruptive events from businesses and society, since they recognized that the two are interdependent.
A diversity of industry-specific requirements like the Payment Cards Security Standards Council and the Federal Insurance Corporation have also weaved business continuity into their compliance requirements.
All definitions point that designing a business continuity plan (BCP) is an essential part of any business’ business continuity management (BCM). The BCP should outline how business operations should be maintained despite going through a disaster. Ideally, businesses should implement risk management strategies that define clear business objectives as well as KPIs for measuring the success rate of these objectives. Your BCP should also include alternatives that make maintaining core customer services easy, such as data backup, emergency file locations, and emergency IT administration rights.
Disaster Recovery in a Nutshell
Disaster recovery assumes that the usual functioning of business has already been disrupted by an event. It emphasizes implementing control measures to get the business back up and running. With it, a business can transition from the alternative business processes it chose to follow due to an event to the regular processes.
Differentiating Disaster Recovery from Business Continuity
The main difference between the two business solutions is when the respective plans take effect. While business continuity will focus on keeping the business afloat during and immediately after a disruptive event, disaster recovery aims at helping the business gain some normalcy once the disruptive event has been dealt with.
Although both act as an ‘after’ response, disaster recovery is meant to get the business back to normal operations. They may overlap but are quite distinct.
For instance, in case a hurricane hits your offices, your business continuity solution might be to have employees work from home. This might only be a short-term solution that isn’t sustainable. The disaster recovery plan focuses on ensuring employees can get back into a brick-and-mortar office and the replacement of office equipment.
What are the Business Continuity Risks that Exist?
Some business continuity risks like natural disasters are easier to identify than others. For instance, businesses that are based in Florida or Louisiana have a high risk of having their operations interrupted by a hurricane. On the flip side, businesses located on the west coast, such as Oregon and California, need to be on the lookout for wildfires.
Business continuity strategies should focus more on IT risks for this reason. For instance, in Q2 2018, Verisign reported that DDoS attacks had risen by 35% from the figure in Q1. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks happen when malicious actors send a wave of requests to a single server, causing them to either slow down or shut down. These attacks can interrupt your business, regardless of whether you provide your customers with internet-based services like online banking or act as a Software-as-a-service platform.
Identifying Business Continuity Risks
First, you need to fully understand the intricate details of your IT infrastructure. With such an understanding, you can use a few questions to determine the scope of these risks:
- What systems can’t the business run without?
- What information can’t the business operate normally without?
- What networks will be vital to normal business operations?
- What software can’t the business operate without?
- What are the natural disaster risks that can pose a danger to critical networks, systems, and software?
- Which cyber risks are your networks, software, and systems exposed to?
- What vendors or third-party services can’t the business function without?
- Do you have any controls in place that can prevent cyber risks affecting critical networks, software, and systems?
- Have you set up any controls to limit the risks that vendors and third-party services pose to your business?
- Have you set up in transit encryptions for remote access to be used in case of disruptive events?
- Do you have endpoint encryption to help maintain the business in case of a disruptive event?
- Have you already set up a process for the implementation of emergency administrative authorizations for business continuity?
- Have you set up data backup, and do you have an off-site recovery service you can rely on?
Incorporating Disaster Recovery Planning
After making a detailed list of potential risks to your network, systems, software, or third-party outages, you ought to design policies that make recovery from business interruptions easy. Some common business recovery plan questions include:
- Do you have a disaster recovery timeline?
- What documents will prove that your business has fully recovered?
- Have you delegated the disaster recovery tasks to specific individuals?
- Have you established an official, documented chain of command for the disaster recovery process?
- Did you follow all the requirements of your recovery timeline?
- What steps will the data recovery process follow?
- How will you reinstate the normal administrative authorizations post-disaster?
- Do you have control in place for measuring the efficacy of incidence response?
- Have you documented the corrective actions?
- Do you monitor nonconformities and take actions for correcting them?
- Did you conduct post-disaster interviews with the individuals in charge of the recovery process?
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!