Written by: Daniel Haurey on 03/07/24

Often lost in the constant buzz about cybersecurity is the critical role that backup and disaster recovery solutions play in protecting your organization. The adage about cyber attacks is simple: It’s not a matter of if, but when. 

That raises the question: Is your company prepared when something goes wrong in your IT environment?

Having robust backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions in place protects your organization and its important data from cyber attacks, but also hardware failure, natural disasters, and plain old human error.  A trusted and experienced managed IT services provider (MSP) will work closely with your organization to identify the right combination of technology solutions needed to protect your business when and if things go sideways. However, not every component of disaster preparedness is IT-based. When it comes to disaster recovery, there are four pillars to consider: Prevention, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

This week, let’s learn more about the blend of assessment and prioritization that happens in the first two steps.

Prevention is the First Step Toward Disaster Recovery Planning

Executing fundamental steps such as identifying risks, evaluating cybersecurity, and creating redundant systems go a long way in protecting your organization in case of a disaster.

Conduct a risk assessment:  Create a policy, including a recurring schedule, about identifying and evaluating potential threats, both internal and external. Every organization faces unique threats to operations depending on their business. Keep in mind that “disruption” doesn’t have to be a complete shutdown; it can be anything that slows productivity, impacts customer service, or creates a safety threat for your employees. Don’t overlook even simple challenges such as internet outages if that could derail your business and impact revenue. Understanding the threat landscape helps to segment responses and preparations more effectively.

Implement data security best practices: Work closely with your MSP to evaluate, plan, and deploy robust data security measures to minimize the risk of data breaches and other cybersecurity threats. This includes encryption, access controls, vulnerability scanning, and patching. Organizations often focus on the biggest threats and expensive solutions, but many gaps in data security are easily closed with proper policies in place and simple maintenance schedules.

Check out our blog on five common vulnerabilities to avoid

Network redundancy solutions: Build redundancy into critical systems and infrastructure to ensure they can withstand failures—whether the attack is by Mother Nature or a bad actor. Creating resiliency may involve redundant hardware, backup power supplies, and geographically dispersed data centers. Many businesses use hybrid cloud solutions and leverage the 3-2-1 approach to achieve redundancy.  That best practice helps you mitigate disaster risks and secure business data by having three copies of your data stored on two different media types (for example, a local hard drive and cloud storage), with one copy stored offsite for disaster recovery.

Learn how Exigent’s Prevent Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions Use 3-2-1

Why is all this so critical? Research from FEMA shows that 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster, and another 25% that do manage to reopen still fail within the year. Additional research from cybersecurity vendors states about 60% of businesses closed due to a data breach never recover. Comparatively, investing the time in a thorough disaster risk assessment and then creating a more resilient infrastructure seems well worth the effort.

Being Prepared Isn’t Just for Boy Scouts

No one wants to build a plane while flying, and safeguarding your business from disaster is no exception. The next step to creating a business continuity solution is planning for the different classes of disasters. To do that, you’ll need to understand how threats impact your business operations, data, employees, and physical and digital assets. Again, the plan for flood waters sweeping through your downtown retail business may differ dramatically from the strategy for dealing with a cyber attack that siphons customer credit card information.

Business impact analysis (BIA): Identify and prioritize your critical business functions and processes and quantify the potential impact of disruptions on each. This includes location, importance, frequency of backups, and recovery priorities. You will have to approach recovery in steps, so consider what you absolutely need to operate your business and what can wait until the situation is more under control.

Business continuity plan (BCP) creation: This detailed plan outlines how your organization responds to and recovers from each class of disruptions. Your BCP includes roles and responsibilities for the crisis management team, communication protocols, recovery procedures, and testing schedules. When you create your BC plan, remember it should be comprehensive, clear, reviewed regularly, and communicated repeatedly to every employee. Remember, this business continuity plan is a broad-scope document; your backup and disaster recovery process focuses on technology solutions and processes and sits within that larger plan.

Employee training and education: Regularly conduct simulated disaster training with your team and employees. Take the time to walk through the BCP so everyone in the organization understands their roles and responsibilities during each category of disaster.  Employee training for disaster recovery is crucial so that when the time comes, your team is not suddenly flipping through manuals or trying to understand complex guidelines for the first time.

Don’t be discouraged by the level of detail required as your organization navigates these first two steps. Your business analysis and preparations may take some time, but the information you gather and examine during the process gives you an advantage even before you develop your full plan. Many businesses approach this process using a task force comprised of representatives from the many departments needed to truly plan for an effective strategy—from marketing to IT to operations and more.

Next Week: With your data in hand, it’s time to plan your response and recovery

Have questions about starting a backup and disaster recovery plan? Download our Disaster Recovery Prep Checklist