How To Plan For Disaster Recovery For Your Digital Assets
Your digital assets might just be the most valuable resource of your business—so why are so many organizations negligent in safeguarding them?
According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen after suffering a disaster. This statistic is even more alarming when taken in context. 58 percent of small businesses say that they’re not prepared for a data loss event, putting their very livelihoods in danger.
Whether you’re a tiny startup or a massive multinational corporation, every business needs a robust disaster recovery plan for its digital assets. This article will give you a primer on how to recover from a digital disaster.
What are Some Potential Threats to Digital Assets?
Your digital assets might seem safe and secure within your IT infrastructure, but the reality is much more perilous. Threats to your data include the following:
- Hardware failure: From floods and hurricanes to crashes and freezing, a number of disaster events can take your hardware out of commission temporarily or permanently.
- Network failure: When your business network goes down, traffic in and out of your organization will come to a screeching halt.
- Database corruption: Like tooth decay or termites, database corruption can quietly eat away at the integrity of your business data, resulting in downtime or data loss.
- Hacking: If you have sensitive or confidential data on hand, your company may be a target for malicious actors who want to steal this valuable information.
- Insider threats: Staff who are disgruntled or clueless about IT security can intentionally or unintentionally expose your network to data breaches.
What’s at Risk With Your Digital Assets?
The immediate risk after a digital disaster is the security of your data and assets. Depending on how you prepare and act before and during the disaster, you may lose these assets temporarily or permanently.
In the aftermath of the disaster, your business will be seriously disrupted and perhaps no longer able to operate. The risks here are lost customers, decreased employee productivity, and damaged reputation. A 2015 study by IHS estimated that unplanned IT outages cost North American companies $700 billion every year, 78 percent of which is due to lost productivity.
Make a quick estimate of how much it would cost you if one of your servers goes down for several hours. Would you be fine because you already have a backup server in place, or would you lose all access to your digital assets and applications? How much would you lose in terms of wages, productivity, and customer transactions?
Why So Many Disaster Recovery Plans Fail
Unfortunately, a great many disaster recovery plans fail—either during the implementation phase, or when they’re needed most during a disaster. There are three major pitfalls here that companies tend to fall into.
First, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and bite off more than you can chew in terms of budget, time, or ability. Be realistic with what you’re trying to achieve. Consider the basic facts about your IT resources: for example, how much data do you have, where do you want to back it up, and how fast can it travel there? The answers to these questions will naturally limit what you can accomplish.
Second, many businesses fail to monitor their backups once they’ve been completed. Administration and management are equally as important as performing the initial backup. You don’t want to receive an unpleasant surprise during a disaster because no one realized that data wasn’t being properly backed up for the past three weeks.
Third, all plans must be tested and trained for well before the disaster. You can’t simply assume that all will go smoothly once disaster strikes. Just like drills for natural disasters such as fires and tornadoes, you need to make sure that all employees know their roles in the event of a digital disaster.
How to Protect Your Digital Assets From Disaster
With the issues above in mind, we’ll now discuss a three-part plan for you to defend your digital assets.
1. Know your data
Start by making an inventory of all your information, databases, and assets. This inventory should include where the files are stored, how they can be accessed, who has access to them, and where they are backed up.
2. Identify your weak spots
Use the inventory that you’ve created to identify the weak spots in your digital asset protection plan. Maybe you’ll find that certain critical data isn’t being protected, or that the backups you thought were being made have gone missing. Whatever the gaps in your strategy, draft and implement a way to fix them.
3. Create a plan
Finally, prepare for disaster by creating a clear, straightforward plan. All key personnel should be aware of this plan and know what their role is during the disaster. For complete preparedness, you must also test this plan regularly with multiple scenarios, such as the different types of threats listed above.
Preparing well in advance for a disaster is the best method of securing your digital assets. If you need help along the way, speak with an IT consulting firm qualified in disaster recovery and business continuity.