4 Essential Best Practices for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

4 Essential Best Practices for Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, disaster recovery best practices, business continuity best practices, disaster recovery planning best practices

From cyberthreats to natural disasters, today’s businesses must prepare themselves for just about anything. Here are 3 best practices to follow.

Business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning are vital strategies for increasing your organisation’s resilience in the face of threats like natural disasters and data breaches.

While the two are often lumped together, and both share the long-term goal of keeping your business up and running during an incident, there are also some key differences to consider.

The main difference between business disaster recovery and business continuity planning is the scope. While disaster recovery focuses on the immediacy of a disaster, business continuity focuses on keeping critical business operations up and running before, during, and after an incident.

Despite these differences, both strategies are deeply connected and typically work in tandem. This is why it’s important to approach them as two separate, albeit related, disciplines under a unified operational and technological environment.

With that in mind, here are four essential best practices you should follow when building out your plans:

1. Monitor risk across your environment

Data is the lifeblood of modern business. Not only is it often the most valuable asset – it’s also the biggest source of risk. That’s even truer in the era of remote work, where more and more companies are defined by their digital footprints and the apps and data their employees use to perform their roles.

For an organisation to function through thick and thin, it’s vital that corporate data continue to flow smoothly at all times. That means it must be protected against threats like cyberattacks and unexpected service outages, while ensuring compliance with data protection regulations and company policy.

You can’t protect what you don’t know about, which is why all mission-critical systems require round-the-clock monitoring. You need to know where your data lives, which security controls and policies are in place to protect it, and who or what has access to it and when. Monitoring your entire technical supply chain is vital for delivering the insights you need to manage risk. Equipped with real-time information concerning the movement of data through your company, you can make optimisations that continuously improve your resilience.

2. Choose the right backup method

There are many backup methods to choose from. The time-honoured industry standard, and indeed the one recommended by the US Government, is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. The 3-2-1 method states that you should always have three copies of your data stored on two different types of media and one off-site copy.

However, as with most things in technology that were once ‘timeless’, a 3-2-1 backup method is simply no longer good enough. Moreover, it’s much less relevant in the age of the cloud, in which many companies don’t even use their own physical storage devices any more. Instead, it’s generally much better to focus on the number of offsite copies you have and where they’re located. For example, the 3-2-2 backup strategy includes a second off-site copy of your data, ideally located in a separate geographical region from the first. This is ideal for businesses that require a mix of local and cloud-based protection.

Availability is another vital metric to consider when formulating your backup strategy. Many backup solutions also feature automated rollovers. For example, if you have your data hosted with a major cloud vendor like AWS or Google, it will typically be stored in at least two different data centers simultaneously, with both copies being synchronised in real time.

3. Extend the best practices to your supply chain

Every successful business involves a collaborative effort between highly interconnected teams and third-parties that provide everything from technical services to raw materials. These third parties are, of course, essential, since no business operates on an island of self-sufficiency.

However, a single supplier relationship can also be your business’s weakest link. For example, if a cloud vendor suffers an extended service outage, your business may be unable to continue mission-critical operations. Worse yet, if a supplier suffers from a serious data breach, your company data might also end up at risk, no matter how well protected your internal systems are.

Mitigating third-party risk by extending business continuity and disaster recovery across the entire corporate supply chain is essential for creating a resilient business. After all, more often than not, an organisation’s resilience hinges on the resilience of its supply chain.

The goal is to eliminate single points of failure by diversifying your supply chain and regularly reviewing your supplier relationships. When it comes to suppliers that provide critical products and services, business continuity planning demands that you have backup suppliers. When third parties have access to sensitive corporate data, you need to ensure that the necessary security and compliance controls are in place.

Every third party should undergo rigorous due diligence not only at the start of the relationship, but on an ongoing basis as new risks emerge. This also brings up a fundamental point about how disaster recovery and business continuity planning isn’t something you do once and forget about, but part of an ongoing and constantly evolving strategy.

4. Build a culture of resilience

Many people think of disaster recovery and business continuity planning as the responsibilities of business leadership or the IT department. The truth is that everyone has a role to play when it comes to keeping your operations running smoothly. Embedding business continuity across your organisation requires a cultural shift whereby everyone is aware of their responsibilities.

A collaborative approach to business continuity and disaster recovery sees all departments, teams, and stakeholders working together. Staff should be trained to identify and report risks and threats, and they should always know who to report to. In the case of disaster recovery, an effective strategy depends on the ability of individuals to respond quickly and appropriately. Business continuity, on the other hand, depends on people knowing how to best continue to carry out their work during a disruption.

Digital tools, such as backup and disaster recovery solutions with automatic rollovers, can help greatly to mitigate disruptions. That said, everything ultimately starts and ends with your staff, so it makes sense to incorporate a robust training program and have policies in place that all members of your team are aware of and onboard with.

Remember, it’s not a matter of if… but when

The best approach to disaster recovery and business continuity is to think of it as a matter of when, as opposed to if, an incident will occur. That might sound overly pessimistic, but it’s also a proven starting point for developing, testing, and updating a rock-solid plan for keeping your organisation safe through almost any eventuality.

C-BCM is a business continuity management software and disaster recovery planning solution. It is part of the ContinuSys integrated business management system, an all-in-one software suite that enhances productivity and decision-making. Request your demo today to see how it works.

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