Disaster recovery planning (DRP) is the outlining of all the potential disasters the organization might encounter, and development of processes required to contend with realization of those disasters. An effective DRP should be designed to run on a series of processes that kick into gear with minimal delay. Key personnel should receive comprehensive training to ensure a smooth operation in the face of disaster. As well, the first responders on the scene should be able to promptly begin the recovery effort in an organized fashion.
Natural disasters are extreme occurrences that take place due to drastic changes in the atmosphere that are beyond human control. These occurrences range from hurricanes, which today’s technology is able to provide a warning system for these events, to earthquakes, which can cause wide-scale destruction without warning. An effective disaster recovery plan should provide methods for immediate response to both predictable and unpredictable of disasters:
- Earthquakes usually occur along fault lines that exist in many areas of the world. If an organization is located in an earthquake zone, the DRP should include procedures that will be followed when an earthquake occurs.
- Floods can occur near rivers and other bodies of water, and are usually the result of heavy rainfall. Flood warnings are most prevalent during the rain season when rivers and water masses overflow their banks.
- Flash floods on the other hand, can occur during storms or when torrential downpours persist and overwhelm the ecosystem. Additionally, floods can occur when dams rupture.
- Storms are one of the most common natural disasters and take many forms. Severe storms can produce torrential rainfall increasing the risk of flash floods.
- Hurricanes and tornadoes, which carry powerful wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, can weaken structural foundations of homes and buildings, and create widespread debris such as fallen trees.
- Thunderstorms carry the risk of lightning of varying intensity, which can inflict serious damage to sensitive electronic components, as well as threatening power lines.
- Fires can occur naturally, from lightning or wildfires during the dry season, and can cause extensive destruction.
Deliberate and accidental man-made disasters bring a myriad of risks to an organization. Some of the more common man-made disasters that need to be considered when preparing a business continuity plan and disaster recovery plan include: fires, explosions, terrorist attacks, labor unrest, theft and vandalism.
- Man-made fires tend to be usually more contained than wildfires. They can arise from carelessness, faulty electrical wiring, or improper fire protection practices. These fires could affect buildings, facilities, or server rooms.
- Explosions can result from a number of man-made factors, and can be accidental such as gas leaks, or intentional, such as a bomb blast. The resulting damage of bombings and explosions are similar to those caused by a large-scale fire.
- Acts of terrorism pose a significant challenge to disaster recovery planners because of their erratic nature and difficulty to predict. However, planners must make certain resources are not over extended to a terrorist threat at the expense of threats that are more likely to occur.
- Labor unrest or strikes should receive equal consideration as a fire or storm in the disaster recovery plan. A strike could suddenly arise from ongoing resentments or other labor-related concerns previously undetected. The BCP and DRP teams should identify possible labor unrest and consider alternative plans if labor unrest occurs.
- Theft and vandalism represent the same kind of threat as a terrorist attack, but on a much smaller scale. However, the plausibility factor is greater with theft or vandalism than with a terrorist attack. A business continuity and disaster recovery plan should include effective preventative measures to thwart the frequency of these incidents as well as contingency plans to mitigate the damage theft and vandalism have on an organization’s ongoing operations.