6 Crucial Steps for Business Continuity Planning

No business is completely safe from the dangers of unforeseen circumstances disrupting its day-to-day operations. A 2017 survey of cybersecurity professionals found that 67 percent of respondents believed a major security breach was “somewhat likely,” “highly likely,” or all but guaranteed at their organization within the following year.

At the same time, some interruptions to work may catch many businesses by surprise. The cost of this disruption and downtime is significant. Your organization may not be able to avoid these disasters, but a business continuity and disaster recovery plan can limit some of your losses and put you in a position to recover faster after a disaster strikes. 

This plan is your best resource when seeking to minimize lost productivity and data, while reducing downtime and maintaining normal business operations to the greatest extent possible. If you don't know where to begin when creating a business continuity plan, review these six critical steps.

1. Identify Mission-Critical Systems Requiring Protection and Backup

Certain business solutions and data—including your CRM, multi-device management solution, workflow management platform, and other business applications—are essential to your most basic operations. These should be prioritized when creating backup copies of your assets and information.

Regular backups to your digital assets is a core component of any business continuity and disaster recovery plan.Each department within your company should perform a risk assessment to identify the critical systems, software, solutions, and other assets that are essential to their basic business tasks.Creating a prioritized list of resources for each department helps minimize downtime should backup files need to be installed. 

2. Implement a System for Detection, Analysis, and Escalation

With natural disasters and other external disruptors, there may be little you can do in terms of identifying risks and taking preventative measures—at least beyond the advance notice weather experts may be able to offer. But with cybersecurity, the value of early detection is significant. Research from IBM and The Ponemon Institute found that detecting and containing a breach within 30 days saves businesses more than $1 million in material losses, compared to companies that take more than 30 days.

You’ll need to collaborate with information technology experts to implement a system that effectively monitors for vulnerabilities. In addition, procedures should be in place to analyze threats and take appropriate actions prior to the escalation. This will limit the damages you suffer and improve your business continuity and recovery time objective throughout the process.

3. Containment Procedures for Disaster Scenarios

Identify your employees’ needs and expectations when faced with potential disaster scenarios. When it comes to cybersecurity events, employees should be coached on the appropriate steps they need to take to limit an attacker’s access, as well as the hacker’s ability to move laterally through your internal system. Tell workers steps to take (logging out of sensitive areas of your infrastructure, for example) and actions they should avoid (i.e., clicking on any links sent via email).

For natural disasters like fires or floods, containment can take the form of ensuring employees are able to evacuate the area, have access to insurance information, are able to access cloud-based business solutions to continue working remotely, and are supported by the organization with strong lines of communication throughout the process.

4. Communication of Important Recovery Information

As a disaster situation progresses, it’s important to keep the lines of communication active not just with your employees, but also your clients and vendors. 

Communication updates can include providing the containment status of a cyber threat, keeping customers informed of your current progress on restoring business operations, and any expected timelines for a full recovery.If there are steps parties can take to protect their own business interests and support a faster recovery process, those should be communicated as soon as they arise.

5. Outline Responsibilities for Members of Disaster Recovery Team

A good business continuity and disaster recovery plan will establish a business continuity team, including specific roles and responsibilities for each individual. Responsibilities can cover everything from IT threat mitigation to internal and external communications, as well as analysis and testing to verify that restored business processes are fully operational.

6. Post-Mortem Evaluation

Business continuity and disaster recovery is a complex process, and it can evolve over time as threats and technologies adapt and evolve. Whenever this plan is put into action, an evaluation should be conducted at the end to identify strengths and weaknesses in this process. With this information, you can make adjustments to your plan and improve your execution in the future to improve your recovery efforts and minimize downtime.

No matter what type of business you run, a business continuity planning is an essential component of your overall security strategy. Want to learn more about how this planning process can make a real-world difference for your organization? Contact us today for an assessment and consultation.

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