Disaster Recovery Testing in 2023 [PDF Checklist Included]

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Disaster Recovery Testing in 2023

Disaster recovery testing is a vital part of any business continuity plan, ensuring that your organization can recover from a disaster effectively and minimize any potential downtime, data loss, or damage. 

To achieve this, it’s crucial to have an effective disaster recovery plan that considers timing, changes, impact, and people. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the purpose of a DR test, the different types of tests, and the best practices to follow.

 

 

What is the Purpose of a DR Test & Why Is Important?

A DR test’s purpose is to evaluate the steps outlined in the plan to ensure that the organization is prepared to handle operational disasters. 

Conducting regular disaster recovery tests is essential to avoid potential issues and ensure that the backup/restore processes remain unaffected by any changes. 

Failing to invest time and resources into testing a disaster recovery plan can result in the plan’s failure to execute as expected when it’s most needed. 

Therefore, experts recommend conducting disaster recovery tests regularly throughout the year, incorporating them into planned maintenance and staff training.

Once a test is completed, the data should be analyzed to identify what worked, what didn’t, and what changes need to be made to the plan’s design. The goal of a disaster recovery test is to meet the organization’s predetermined RPO/RTO requirements.

 

 

Types of Disaster Recovery Tests (+ Examples of Possible Scenarios)

There are three types of disaster recovery testing, which include a plan review, tabletop exercise, and simulation tests.

A plan review involves reviewing the DRP to find any inconsistencies and missing elements. 

A tabletop exercise involves stakeholders walking through all the components of a DRP step by step to uncover any inconsistencies, missing information, or errors. 

A simulation test involves simulating disaster scenarios to see if the procedures and resources allocated for disaster recovery and business continuity work in a situation as close to the real world as possible.

There are two types of simulation tests, including a parallel test and a live or “full interruption” test. A parallel test restores a system that hasn’t broken down to an alternate location, whereas a live or “full interruption” test downs the main system and attempts to recover it.

Disasters can be categorized into several major groups, including equipment failures, user errors, natural disasters, and cyber-attacks. 

Equipment failures range from server meltdowns to storage failures, while user errors involve accidental deletion of data or crashing the database server. 

Natural disasters include hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, and cyber-attacks can range from malware infections to hacking. 

All of these potential disasters should be considered when developing a DRP.

That being said…

 

 

Checklist of Best Practices for Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan and Disaster Recovery Testing

Based on our experience and all that we’ve mentioned before, here is a checklist of best practices for disaster recovery testing:

  1. Backup data regularly: It is essential to back up data files regularly and store it in a secure location, ideally an offsite cloud backup service that stores and transmits backup data encrypted.
  2. Develop a disaster recovery plan (DRP): Create a clear document outlining the steps to be taken in case of cyber security incidents. Ensure all technical staff or contractors know the plan and its procedures.
  3. Test your DRP regularly: Conduct regular tests of your DRP to ensure it is effective in a real-life crisis. Make updates based on the results of these tests.
  4. Identify critical business functions: Identify the most critical ones and ensure they receive priority in recovery efforts.
  5. Identify dependencies and ensure redundancy: Identify critical dependencies essential for normal operations, such as power and internet connectivity. Ensure that redundancy is in place to provide a backup in case of an outage.
  6. Allocate recovery resources: Allocate resources required to recover from cyber incidents, such as manpower, hardware, and software.
  7. Create an incident response team: Establish a team of individuals trained to respond quickly and effectively to cyber incidents.
  8. Review insurance coverage: Review insurance coverage with experts and ensure it covers all potential cyber-related incidents.
  9. Educate employees: Educate employees on cyber security best practices to reduce the risk of security breaches.
  10. Restrict access to systems and data: Limiting employee access to systems and data minimizes a malicious insider threat. Ensure that privileged access and password controls are enforced, and use two-factor authentication wherever feasible.
  11. Secure the network: Implement security measures, such as firewalls and anti-virus software, to prevent cyber attacks.
  12. Keep software and system up to date: Regularly updating software and systems can prevent security breaches associated with outdated versions. Ensure that any security patches or updates are promptly installed.
  13. Keep documentation current: Ensure all policies and procedures are documented accurately and trained personnel are familiar with the latest information.
  14. Conduct regular training: Train all employees on the DRP, roles and responsibilities, and best practices, including the importance of cyber security hygiene.
  15. Establish communication channels: Establish clear communication channels to inform all stakeholders during cyber security incidents.

By following a comprehensive disaster recovery checklist such as this, businesses can proactively prepare for a cyber security incident and minimize disruption to their operations and financial loss.

 

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Let us manage and maintain your IT, so you can focus on your core business. For a consultation, call us today at (713) 571-2390.