Data is one of the most valuable assets in any organization. However, business data is constantly threatened by human error, ransomware attacks, breaches, and physical disasters. In the event of any of these, your company will stop operating, and if it cannot resume operations on time, it might close down for good.
Statistics show that 60% of small businesses close their doors within six months after becoming victims of a cyber-attack or data breach. To keep this from happening to you, you must take a proactive approach to mitigate the fallouts of a disaster. The method of doing this is known as disaster recovery solutions.
An effective disaster recovery solution ensures your doors stay open and the integrity and reputation of your business remain intact after a disaster. This blog looks at why companies need to engage in disaster recovery solutions. But first, let’s discuss the disasters a business will likely experience.
What Is a Disaster in Data Security?
A disaster is any severe event that halts your business activities for an extended period. Natural disasters, technical errors, or human errors can cause them. The different types of disasters in data security are:
- Attacks like malware, DDoS and Ransomware
- Unmitigated natural disasters
- Power outages
- Equipment failure
- Terrorist attacks
- Epidemics or pandemics like COVID-19
- Industrial accidents
What Is Disaster Recovery?
Disaster recovery solutions allow companies to regain control of their business in light of an unexpected event. With an effective disaster recovery solution, organizations can regain the use of their IT infrastructures and other critical systems. Also, disaster recovery depends on replicating data and computer processes in an off-premises location.
There are different recovery solutions, each with a unique function. However, most modern disaster recovery solutions are cloud-based, which reduces the cost and makes it easier to back up and restore your business assets. Also, introducing Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) using cloud infrastructure has made enterprise-grade disaster recovery available for small to medium-sized businesses.
Types of Disaster Recovery Solution
Backup is the most straightforward form of disaster recovery solution, and it involves storing data off-site or on a removable drive. However, backed-up data is only for your documents, files, and visual records and only provides minimal help with business continuity. This is because your operating systems are not backed up with basic backup.
When using this type of disaster recovery, your company will set up a primary infrastructure in a rarely used facility. It gives employees a place to work after a natural disaster or fire. This allows your business to continue while you rebuild your infrastructure, but you cannot recover lost data. So, you need to combine a cold site with other forms of disaster recovery.
A hot site contains all up-to-date copies of your business data. However, they are time-consuming to make, and you’ll spend more money than you would with a cold site. However, it has one key advantage — it significantly reduces downtime.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)
A DRaaS provider is who you turn to if you are affected by a disaster or ransomware. The DRaaS provider will move your computer processing to its cloud infrastructure. This allows you to continue business operations while your servers are down.
Also, the DRaaS provider implements the disaster recovery plan based on the terms of the service-level agreement. You can get backup recovery tools, a fully hosted service, risk management, emergency plans, and incident reports. Finally, DRaaS providers are available on either subscription or pay-per-use.
Backup as a Service
In the standard backup disaster recovery, you create the backup of your data yourself online or at a remote location. However, a third party backs up your data with backup as a Service. But it is not an IT infrastructure.
Data Center Disaster Recovery
You need to protect your IT infrastructure and all physical elements of the facility if you use a data center. For instance, fire suppressors can help computer equipment and data survive a fire. Also, if there’s a power outage, having a backup power source helps to keep your business running. Data centers help more with natural disasters and not cyber attacks.
Virtualization involves backing up certain operations and data or a working replica of your company’s computing environment in an off-site virtual machine that physical disasters cannot affect. This allows you to automate disaster recovery processes and quickly return your business online.
To effectively use virtualization for disaster recovery, frequently transfer data and workloads to the off-site machines. Also, ensure the IT team knows how many virtual machines you have.
Elements of an Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
An effective disaster recovery plan should have the following elements:
Disaster Recovery Team
Although most people believe risk analysis is the first element in disaster recovery, it isn’t. The first component is the disaster recovery team. The team comprises specialists who will create, implement, and manage the disaster recovery strategy.
Ensure each team member knows their role and responsibilities and has the qualifications to perform them. Also, there should always be a transparent communication chain between the team members and between the team and other employees, customers, and vendors.
Furthermore, the team should consist of IT specialists and those with strong leadership skills in crisis management, business continuity, IT applications, and impact assessment and recovery. Additionally, create an executive management team to approve the disaster recovery plan’s strategy, policies, and budget.
Risk assessment involves evaluating all the potential hazards the business faces and their outcomes. Risks vary per industry and geographic location. So, when conducting a risk analysis, you must factor in your industry and business location.
The assessment should identify potential hazards and determine the part of your company the threat will affect. Then, use the result to create procedures that can counter the risks.
Business Impact Analysis
The business impact analysis examines products and quantifies a disaster’s financial and non-financial impact on a company. It assesses a disaster’s effects on your company’s marketing, finances, reputation, safety, legal compliance, and quality assurance. Note that business impact analysis is not the same as risk analysis.
While risk analysis focuses on the hazards organizations face and the outcomes, business impact analysis focuses on the effects of those hazards on business operations. Understanding how they differ helps you define your goals when creating the disaster recovery strategy. It also helps you create your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO).
The Recovery Point Objective refers to the maximum age of the files that a business must recover from backup storage to continue its normal operations. Also, it determines the minimum frequency for performing backups. So, if your RPO is three hours, your organization’s systems must back up every three hours.
On the other hand, the Recovery Time Objective is when a company estimates the maximum time its system can be unavailable without causing significant or unfixable damage to the business. For instance, while a business’s system can be down for days without affecting it, others will suffer irreparable harm if their system is down for seconds or minutes.
Vital Business Asset Identification
The disaster recovery plan should also contain the identification of critical business assets. The documentation covers data, systems, applications, and other resources for data recovery and business continuity.
Testing and Optimization
Finally, the disaster recovery plan should have a schedule for testing and optimization. Cyber security threats are ever-evolving, and hackers constantly create ways to defeat firewalls and security systems. Therefore, you must update your strategy to address new threats and business needs. Ensuring that your organization can face any danger makes it easier to handle disasters.
Creating a disaster recovery plan does not happen overnight. You must conduct extensive fact-finding and analysis to learn more about your systems. So, when creating a disaster recovery strategy, you will assess the following:
- IT budgets
- Internal communications
- Compliance requirements
- Insurance coverage
- External relationships
- Data storage systems
The answer from the assessment gives you actionable insight to work with. For example, you will uncover any weaknesses in your systems, which helps you prevent data breaches before they occur. Additionally, the analysis result helps optimize your RPOs and RTOs, improving your business’s survival chances in the event of data loss.
One key reason to engage in disaster recovery solutions is that your business can recover faster, and you experience less downtime. Data shows that companies with frequent downtime have sixteen times higher costs than other organizations. Without a disaster recovery plan, your business will suffer extensive damage.
Also, what started as a minor disaster can escalate and cause catastrophic losses. It could make your RPO ineffective, causing you to lose valuable time. But with a disaster recovery solution, you significantly reduce the risk of IT downtime, allowing you to bounce back faster after a disaster.
The cost of data loss has caused many businesses to close their doors. As mentioned, more than half (60%) of small businesses that experience a cyber-attack will go under within six months. This is because the costs of data loss go beyond monetary.
You lose customers, have extra staff hours, suffer reputation damage, and lose your competitive advantage. The cost is higher if your business stores sensitive or personally identifiable information. Even if you stay above water, regulatory investigations are so expensive that you may not recover from them.
The only way to mitigate the costs of data loss is to take a proactive approach by implementing a disaster recovery plan. Compared with what you lose from a disaster, the amount spent on disaster recovery is cheaper. It requires mostly time, which goes into conducting vulnerability assessments, developing sub-plans, conducting business impact and risk analysis, and testing and maintaining the plan and organization systems.
According to a study, 83% of US consumers will stop spending with a business for several months immediately after a security breach.
Engaging in disaster recovery solutions will help you minimize these damages. A disaster recovery plan will reduce the impact of a disaster on your business by increasing your data protection, reducing data loss, and enabling business continuity.
One known benefit of disaster recovery solutions is that it improves the security of your systems as you know the weaknesses of your system and possible breach and create a contingency plan. Also, disaster recovery solutions help you locate and remove redundant tools and software that hackers can use. Additionally, it shows you the data to prioritize and backup.
Customers are crucial to a business’s success, so you must do all you can to keep them. As stated, customers will turn their backs on a company that suffers a data breach that leads to their personal information getting leaked. An example of a company that ceased to exist after a data breach is Code Spaces.
Code Spaces packed up after hackers erased their data, backups, off-site data, and machine configurations. As a result, the company suffered irreparable damage to its reputation and finances. What happened to Code Spaces can happen to any business without disaster recovery solutions.
Having disaster recovery solutions helps you show customers that you are working to protect their data and resume operations. It also helps retain customer trust and maintain a competitive advantage in your industry.
The importance of disaster recovery solutions cannot be overemphasized, and the benefits far outweigh the costs. Therefore, as a small business or B2B business owner, protect your company’s future by implementing a disaster recovery plan today.