By Sungard AS
Planning for business disruption is not a simple task and it is often easy to adopt the attitude that it will never happen to you, but with an increasingly digitized landscape and the threat of cyber-attacks growing, being prepared for disaster is no longer an option but a necessity. Of course, it isn't just cyber attacks you need to be prepared for; the weather, technology failure and human failure can all disrupt your business. Making sure that your Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) plans are up to date and fully tested is essential to protecting your company if disaster strikes.
Many people conflate the terms Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, believing them to mean the same thing, but they terms are separate for a reason.
Disaster recovery is a subset of business continuity planning. Focusing solely on restoring IT systems and operations as effectively as possible, DR invokes backup systems and IT contingency methods for critical functions and applications. The aim of DR is to minimize business downtime so that your tech gets back up and running in the shortest possible time. Business continuity, on the other hand, looks at maintaining the functionality of the business as a whole and covers a much wider scope, including putting in place preventative controls and managing staff and customers.
The 2017 ransomware attack on the NHS demonstrates how important having a secure and easily accessible file backup system is as the downtime caused by this attack affected thousands of patients. Similarly, the Google Docs' Phishing scam, showed how good business continuity that includes swift media reactions and customer support can mitigate the damage of an attack. Of course, customer support and swift media reactions aren't the only advantages of having a good BC plan. With a BC plan in place, you will be more capable of using it to thwart other adverse effects such as downtime which impacts not only your customers but your employees and other stakeholders as well. A good BC plan will let you resume normal business activity quickly, whereas without one this could take much longer.
Given these examples, it is not surprising that the importance placed on both BC and DR is growing as digital threats increase and IT departments are quick to get on board, with Tech Pro Research showing that increased network availability is being pursued by 70% of respondents.
The most important part of maintaining your business functions in the case of a breach is planning ahead. By staying up to date with your BC and DR strategies, you can be prepared for quick, effective recovery if disaster strikes. Include regular testing to ensure your plan stays up to date and to highlight any vulnerabilities. Be prepared to make changes and provide training and resources for your employees where necessary so that at any moment you can be sure your plans are watertight.
Regardless of business size, perceived attack thread or experience, all businesses should implement a business continuity and disaster recovery plan and use them in conjunction for the greatest protection against business and IT disruption.