What Is A Back-Up Recovery Plan?
According to National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-34, Contingency Planning for Information Technology Systems, the following summarizes the ideal structure for an IT disaster recovery plan:
Develop the contingency planning policy statement. A formal policy provides the authority and guidance necessary to develop an effective contingency plan.
Conduct the business impact analysis (BIA). The business impact analysis helps to identify and prioritize critical IT systems and components.
Identify preventive controls. These are measures that reduce the effects of system disruptions and can increase system availability and reduce contingency life cycle costs.
Develop recovery strategies. Thorough recovery strategies ensure that the system can be recovered quickly and effectively following a disruption.
Develop an IT contingency plan. The contingency plan should contain detailed guidance and procedures for restoring a damaged system.
Plan testing, training and exercising. Testing the plan identifies planning gaps, whereas training prepares recovery personnel for plan activation; both activities improve plan effectiveness and overall agency preparedness.
Plan maintenance. The plan should be a living document that is updated regularly to remain current with system enhancements.
The plan development team should meet with the internal technology team, application team, and network administrator(s) and establish the scope of the activity, e.g., internal elements, external assets, third-party resources, linkages to other offices/clients/vendors; be sure to brief IT department senior management on these meetings so they are properly informed.
Gather all relevant network infrastructure documents, e.g., network diagrams, equipment configurations, databases.
Obtain copies of existing IT and network DR plans; if these do not exist, proceed with the following steps.
Identify what management perceives as the most serious threats to the IT infrastructure, e.g., fire, human error, loss of power, system failure.
Identify what management perceives as the most serious vulnerabilities to the infrastructure, e.g., lack of backup power, out-of-date copies of databases.
Review previous history of outages and disruptions, and how the firm handled them.
Identify what management perceives as the most critical IT assets, e.g., call center, server farms, Internet access.
Determine the maximum outage time management can accept if the identified IT assets are unavailable.
Identify the operational procedures currently used to respond to critical outages.
Determine when these procedures were last tested to validate their appropriateness.
Identify emergency response team(s) for all critical IT infrastructure disruptions; determine their level of training with critical systems, especially in emergencies.
Identify vendor emergency response capabilities; if they have ever been used; if they were did they work properly; how much the company is paying for these services; status of service contract; presence of service-level agreement (SLA) and if it is used.
Compile results from all assessments into a gap analysis report that identifies what is currently done versus what ought to be done, with recommendations as to how to achieve the required level of preparedness, and estimated investment required.Have management review the report and agree on recommended actions.
Prepare IT disaster recovery plan(s) to address critical IT systems and networks.
Conduct tests of plans and system recovery assets to validate their operation.
Update DR plan documentation to reflect changes.
Schedule next review/audit of IT disaster recovery capabilities.
Important IT disaster recovery planning considerations
Senior management support. Be sure to obtain senior management support so that your plan goals can be achieved.
Take the IT DR planning process seriously. Although the IT DR plan can take a great deal of time for data gathering and analysis, it doesn’t have to be dozens of pages long. Plans simply need the right information, and that information should be current and accurate
Availability of standards. Among the relevant standards you can use when developing IT DR plans are NIST SP 800-34, ISO/IEC 24762, and BS 25777.
Keep it simple. Gathering and organizing the right information is critical.
Review results with business units. Once the IT disaster recovery plan is complete, review the findings with business units leaders to make sure your assumptions are correct