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What is the Difference Between Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery?

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Blizzards, hurricanes, and rainstorms occur every year, affecting businesses, homes, and institutions. Almost everyone now is thinking about measures to mitigate disaster and to recover from the effects. Many companies require policies to keep operating even in the aftermath of nature’s wrath.

It always makes a lot of sense to be prepared for disasters. To succeed, you need various strategies for disaster recovery and business continuity.

Understanding Business Continuity

According to the International Standards Organization (ISO), the idea of business continuity came from governments and business regulators. There arose a need to manage the impact and disruption of normalcy. Effects of natural and man-made disasters to businesses and institutions need to be mitigated appropriately.

Authorities had to be in the frontline of disaster management. The federal government, for example, requires businesses to adhere to specific standards. The Payment Card Security Standards Council and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation are perhaps the best examples of industry-specific standards that champion for disaster management.

For proper business continuity plan (BCP) to be effective, you would have to incorporate it in your programs of compliance management. Most, if not all, definitions of business continuity require organizations to have a sound plan in their business continuity management (BCM).

While designing your BCP, have in mind the possible alternatives that can be used while normal processes have been compromised, weakened, or destroyed. Remember that customers can only put up with a delay, but not a total interruption of services. Examples of alternatives are data backups, emergency company locations, and reserve administrative rights.

Understanding Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is the plan to get back to normal business processes. Instead of wasting time looking for the cause of the interruption, it swiftly focuses resources on getting back to your feet. Some people say that the disaster recovery plan deems disruption of services and operations as usual and that all organizations should be ready for downtimes.

The plan for disaster recovery transitions your business from the aftermath of an attack, disaster, or interruption to normalcy. It should, therefore, be tactical and well thought out. You will have to highlight the possible threats from which your company can suffer. These include natural disasters, external malicious attacks, and internal human errors.

What is the Fundamental Difference Between Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery?

The fundamental difference between business continuity and disaster recovery is when you deploy the plan. Business continuity allows you to keep your business operating before, during the attack and afterward. On the other hand, disaster recovery plans are deployed after the attack, to resume routine services.

Mainly, both functions focus on the event after it has occurred. However, disaster recovery employs measures to get yourself back to the same position before the disaster. While the two functions overlap, it is essential to distinguish how they operate.

If heavy rains flood your office building, a sound business recovery plan would be letting your staff work from home or some other remote place. However, this measure is only for emergency purposes and is, therefore, short-term. At the same time, your disaster recovery plan employs measures to bring back the employees in a shared office location with replaced equipment.

Understanding Business Continuity Risks

The risks that threaten business continuity are different. For example, the effects of natural disasters can be easy to anticipate because the weatherman often foresees the disaster. If your business is in Louisiana or Florida, for example, you can expect hurricanes to interrupt you. Similarly, companies in Oregon, California, and other locations on the west coast can put measures of dealing with interruption by wildfires.

Cyber-attacks are difficult and often impossible to forecast. Businesses are increasingly prone to cyber-attacks, and IT risks. In Q2 of 2018, Verisign reported a 35 percent increase in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks as compared to the first quarter of the same year.

DDoS attacks cause servers to slow down or become unable to work due to overwhelming requests by malicious people. Businesses that serve customers online, such as Software-as-a-Service platform, online banking platforms, and related services are highly susceptible to these attacks.

Identifying Your Business Continuity Risks

You need to figure out how your IT infrastructure works to identify all risks, this can be done by formulating a risk management plan after performing a risk assessment. The following are questions that you need to ask yourself and provide reliable answers.

  • What data is crucial to maintain normal business operations and procedures?
  • What are the physical and virtual systems crucial to maintain normal business operations?
  • What connections, networks, and internet services are crucial to maintaining normal business operations and procedures?
  • What computer software and applications on mobile devices are crucial to maintaining normal business operations and procedures?
  • What risks that can be caused by natural disasters need to be mitigated to maintain normal business operations and procedures of your systems, software, and networks?
  • What cyberattack risks are your critical systems, software, apps, and networks prone to?
  • Are there vendors, service providers, and third parties that can cause risks to your business operations and procedures?
  • What are services from the outside of your environment crucial to maintain normal business operations and procedures?
  • What measures have you established to highlight, monitor, and prevent critical external services that can pose a risk to your business operations and procedures?
  • Do you have a backup plan such as a data center located offsite to help with recovery of information when an attack occurs?
  • How secure is your offsite data recovery center, and how do you measure the success of data recovery?
  • Do you have remote access and in-transit encryption to help you get back to normal business operations and procedures in case of an attack and business interruption?
  • Do you have endpoint encryption to assist your business resume to normal business operations and procedures in case of an attack and business interruption?
  • What emergency administrative authorizations do you have that can help you get back to normal business operations and procedures in case of an attack and business interruption?

How to Incorporate Disaster Recovery Planning to Your Company

You need to draft a list of risks to your company’s systems, software, network, and third-party services. The next step will be the establishment of policies that will hasten your speed of recovery from an attack and interruption of business operations. The following are examples of questions to ask yourself when designing the recovery plan.

  • Is there staff whose responsibility is to deploy the recovery plan?
  • Does your company or business have a clear chain of command to execute the recovery mission?
  • What is the timeline that these people should follow when implementing the recovery plan?
  • When disasters interrupted your business, did you comply with your recovery timeline?
  • Did you manage to recover all crucial data?
  • In the aftermath of the interruptive event, did you restore normalcy of administrative authorizations?
  • What criteria define compliance with the policy?
  • How do you determine the efficacy of your recovery plan?
  • Are there documentation of actions taken to correct the events?
  • How have you reviewed incidences of non-conformity?
  • Did you inform your team about the business recovery plan?

Conclusion

Having understood the importance of a recovery plan to business continuity, it is time to draft a comprehensive one to fit your business risks. Review it continuously to guide your company to respond to all sorts of risks of a natural disaster or a malicious attack. Your disaster management plan should have straightforward definitions focused on business continuity.

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