What’s the purpose of an IT business continuity plan?
When your systems go down, business operations are at risk. It’s the same if your data is stolen or compromised. An IT business continuity plan will outline how your business can prevent or cope during an unexpected disruption to your services. This plan is an in-depth document containing recovery strategies that every aspect of your business would need to manage the disruption, and maintain office productivity.
What’s it for?
If your risk management process fails, your business continuity plan allows you peace of mind in the event of a cyber attack or incident which sees operations come to a halt. This plan is developed to protect essential parts of your business that are required to operate; for example; critical products, applications and services.
With a thorough plan in place, everyone should know what the steps are and how to handle the unexpected incident. In turn, this will protect data, prevent losses and ensure customer trust isn’t eroded—your business is resilient and can respond swiftly to risks and threats.
Not only does an IT business continuity plan help prevent system downtime but it can also help to preserve critical data and other vital parts of your business that you may have lost without it in place. At iomart, we do this by supplying a ‘golden’ copy of your most important data and software, which can be restored to ensure minimal disruption.
For it to be effective, a business continuity plan should include the following elements.
First of all, it should include an analysis of potential security threats. The plan must pinpoint all relevant and potential risks whether it is cyber attacks, internal vulnerabilities, weather events or technological problems.
The plan should clearly establish areas of responsibility across a dedicated risk management team. During these emergencies, all leaders should be aware of their responsibilities and know who is supporting what during the incident, as well as the relevant contact information. The risk management team should also have a clear idea of what triggers or events indicate that the plan needs to be implemented and who initiates the steps.
Third, there should be an alternative communications plan. You should have all the official procedures written up and have ensured the relevant members of the team are sufficiently trained to communicate the required actions to customers and team members.
Off-site backup of data via cloud solutions is an absolute must. Cloud storage allows for the safest off-site storage as having information or data stored on the cloud allows the right people to access it without being dependent on location. Having cloud backup allows for data restoration to occur as quickly as possible; reducing incident time. It’s also important to have a power backup which can reduce the cost of system downtime.
Next, your plan should account for a recovery phase (period) to start restoring crucial applications and services. It’s important to have this in the plan, but you must also ensure that it’s written up in a way that everyone can understand, regardless of whether they are in IT or not, to reduce downtime. This is when recovery strategies can come into play. For example, outsourcing resources whilst yours are down or hiring replacing equipment.
Finally, you must ensure you are always reviewing your plan. Variables are constantly changing and some plans could become outdated or ineffective. Taking the time to review and update your plan is crucial to maintain your confidence that you have everything covered and the best possible options for recovery at your disposal. It’s also vital to communicate and signpost updated documentation so everyone can clearly identify the correct plan.
What are the key features of an iomart business continuity plan?
- Ensures there’s always clean copy of data and systems available (‘golden’ copy)
- Highly secure and highly resilient (so that it can’t be attacked or damaged alongside everything else)
- Rigorous testing to make sure it’s effective and the data is correct
- 24/7 support from infrastructure experts in case you have any questions or issues
- Borderless: protects any platform regardless of location
- Adheres to compliance and regulatory requirements
How is an IT Business Continuity plan different from a Disaster Recovery plan?
Both play a major part in safeguarding your business, but the main difference between the two is the scope. Whilst the continuity plan considers the majority of the business domains and resources, a disaster recovery plan mainly focuses on the IT facilities including software and data systems.
The focus of disaster recovery is getting actual IT services and operations restored after an outage or incident, not preventing or preparing for the possibility of it. The central concern of a business continuity plan is getting all aspects of the business back up to full working condition after a crisis, with minimal disruption.
It’s so important to have a business continuity plan in place in case of any unexpected cyber incidents. Having the plan should ensure that your business doesn’t have to resort to your disaster recovery plan and it’s able to consider all aspects of your business. It also ensures your recovery strategies are tried and tested. Not only should you have a business continuity plan in place, but making sure everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities to prevent and cope with these incidents, along with how to communicate these actualities to customers, is essential.