Business Continuity Planning in a Coronavirus World
The need for a business continuity plan is becoming more critical as businesses adjust disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
A virus in and of itself can’t shut your company’s systems, operations, or services down, but it can impact how a business functions. It’s not often that businesses face a pandemic. Still, natural disasters, human-made disasters, security threats (such as a malware attack), and an outage are a reality. If businesses want to ensure a smooth recovery process and continuity of operations, they must do a risk assessment and develop a recovery services strategy with disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
Business continuity refers to maintaining business functions or quickly resuming them in the event of a significant disruption, whether caused by a fire, flood, malicious attack by cybercriminals, or even a pandemic. A business continuity plan outlines procedures and instructions an organization must follow in the face of such disasters; it covers business processes, assets, human resources, business partners, and more.
Many people think a disaster recovery (DR) plan is the same as a business continuity plan, but a DR plan focuses mainly on restoring an IT infrastructure and operations after a crisis. It’s just one part of a complete business continuity plan, as a business continuity plan looks at the continuity of the entire organization.
There are three primary aspects to a business continuity plan for critical applications and processes:
- High availability: Provide for the capability and processes so that a business has access to applications regardless of local failures. These failures might be in the business processes, in the physical facilities, or the IT hardware or software.
- Continuous operations: Safeguard the ability to keep things running during a disruption, as well as during planned outages such as scheduled backups or planned maintenance.
- Disaster recovery: Establish a way to recover a data center at a different site if a disaster destroys the primary site or otherwise renders it inoperable.
Common questions to ask
- How would the department function if desktops, laptops, servers, email, and internet access were unavailable?
- What critical security or operational controls are needed if systems are down?
- During a disruption, what workarounds are there for crucial business processes?
- What single points of failure exist?
- What are the critical outsourced relationships and dependencies?
- What is the minimum number of staff needed, and what functions would they need to carry out?
- What are the critical skills, knowledge, or expertise needed to recover?
- What are risk controls or risk management systems currently in place?
Key features of an effective business continuity plan
- Strategy: Objects that are related to the strategy used by the business to complete day-to-day activities while ensuring continuous operations.
- Technology: Objects that are related to the systems, network, and industry-specific technology necessary to enable continuous operations and backups for applications and data.
- Organization: Objects that are related to the structure, skills, communications, and responsibilities of its employees.
- Facilities: Objects that are related to providing a disaster recovery site if the primary site is destroyed.
- Applications and data: Objects that are related to the software necessary to enable business operations, as well as the method to provide high availability that is used to implement that software.
- Processes: Objects that are related to the critical business process necessary to run the business, as well as the IT processes used to ensure smooth operations.
The business continuity plan becomes a source reference at the time of a business continuity event or crisis and the blueprint for strategy and tactics to deal with the event or disaster.
Communication is key to success
One way to ensure your plan is not successful is to adopt a casual attitude toward its importance. Every business continuity plan must be supported from the top down. That means senior management must be represented when creating and updating the policy; no one can delegate that responsibility to subordinates. Also, the plan is likely to remain fresh and viable if senior management makes it a priority by dedicating time for adequate review and testing.
Communication is key to promoting user awareness. If employees don’t know about the plan, how will they be able to react appropriately when every minute counts? Although plan distribution and training can be conducted by business unit managers or HR staff, have someone from the top kick-off training and punctuate its significance. It’ll have a more significant impact on all employees, giving the plan more credibility and urgency.
The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus is changing the business world, and companies need to be prepared. Creating a proper business continuity plan to adapt to the changing world and work environments has never been more critical.
The Cyber Security experts at Lazarus Alliance are completely committed to you and your business’ success. Regardless of whether you represent the private sector or the public sector, we stand ready to partner with your organizations.
Lazarus Alliance is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-7580 to discuss your organization’s cyber security needs and find out how we can help your organization adhere to cyber security regulations, maintain compliance, and secure your systems.