THE CEO S GUIDE TO BUILDING A FAIL-SAFE DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN

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1 THE CEO S GUIDE TO BUILDING A FAIL-SAFE DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN By Stuart Avera, Executive Vice President Nexxtep Technology Services, Inc. Nexxtep s Leadership Team About Nexxtep 2010 Nexxtep Technology Services, Inc.

2 CONTENTS Introduction Frightening Trends You Should Consider Most Obvious Causes of Data Loss Less Obvious Causes of Data Loss 4 Steps to Building a Fail-Safe Disaster Recovery Plan Components of a Fail-Safe Disaster Recovery Plan Getting Started

3 INTRODUCTION Have you ever lost an hour of work on your computer? Now imagine if you lost days or weeks of work or imagine losing your client s tax returns, financial records, and all of the work files your company has ever produced or compiled. Imagine what would happen if your network went down for days and you couldn t access or the information on your PC. How devastating would that be? Or, what if a major storm, flood, or fire destroyed your office and all of your files? Or if a virus wiped out your server do you have an emergency recovery plan in place that you feel confident in? How quickly do you think you could recover, if at all?

4 If you do not have good answers to the above questions or a rock-solid disaster recovery plan in place, you are quite literally playing Russian roulette with your business. With the number of threats constantly growing, it s not a matter of if you will have a problem, but rather a matter of when. You know your data and your clients data is critical to your daily operations. You also know that you cannot afford to lose this data in the event of an unexpected disaster. But do you have a plan in place? Do you know all of the components of a fail-safe disaster recovery plan? If you answered no to either of these questions, then let this guide be your first step in building the best disaster recovery plan for your firm. What you ll learn: Frightening Trends You Should Consider Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Threats to Data Loss 4 Steps to Take When Building a Fail-Safe Disaster Recovery Plan Components of a Great Disaster Recovery Plan

5 FRIGHTENING TREND YOU SHOULD CONSIDER 93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster, and 50% filed for bankruptcy immediately. (Source: National Archives & Records Administration in Washington.) 20% of small to medium businesses will suffer a major disaster causing loss of critical data every 5 years. (Source: Richmond House Group) The average failure rate for a tape backup is 100% - ALL tape backups fail at some point in time.

6 This year, 40% of small to medium businesses that manage their own network and use the Internet for more than will have their network accessed by a hacker, and more than 50% won t even know they were attacked. (Source: Gartner Group) About 70% of business people have experienced (or will experience) data loss due to accidental deletion, disk or system failure, viruses, fire or some other disaster (Source: Carbonite) The first reaction of employees who lose their data is to try to recover the lost data themselves by using recovery software or either restarting or unplugging their computer steps that can make later data recovery impossible.

7 OBVIOUS CAUSES OF DATA LOSS Hardware failure. Tape drives have an average failure rate of 100%. That is to say, all tape drives and hard drives eventually fail at some point. Incredible, isn t it? Most people don t realize that ALL tape drives fail. But what s really dangerous is that most companies don t realize it happened until it s too late.

8 Natural Disasters. We ve all seen headlines like these: "Fires Burning Thousands of Acres in the West, South and East! Tornadoes Destroying Homes and Stores in the Midwest!" "Floods in the East!" "Hurricanes in the South!" With these types of headlines filling our newspapers this year and in years past, you would think the entire country should be named a national disaster area. Some of this is just plain hoopla and ballyhoo by the national and local news media trying to boost their ratings. But generally, June through November is the peak time for natural and (in some cases) man-made disasters. Contrary to what the media tells us about the disasters happening all around us, most of the 300 million people in the United States are unaffected by these events. But that is no reason to not prepare!

9 It is important to recognize that the failures of the unprepared to be prepared are lessons and sometimes a wakeup call for the rest of us. The times when misfortune affect certain areas and other parts of the country are times when the rest of us need to reflect on what our business would do if we suffered some type of disaster, whether it be a fire, tornado, hurricane, or perhaps one of many possible man-made (intentional or unintentional) disasters. While you may not be experiencing a disaster today, neither were the people who were struck by a disaster today facing one the day before. Even if there is no disaster happening in your part of the country, you need to be learning from the experiences of others who were unprepared and failed to maintain proper disaster recovery and business continuity plans. (Source: Anderson, John D. How s Your Disaster Recovery Plan? The CPA Technology Advisor. August Online at

10 LESS OBVIOUS CAUSES OF DATA LOSS Virus. A virus spoils the data stored on the tape drive or server. Some of the more aggressive viruses not only corrupt the data, but they don t allow anyone to access the data on the drive. Hacker. A hacker enters your network through an or popup ad, then destroys or steals all of your data. Theft. A disgruntled employee intentionally erases everything, or a thief breaks in and steals ALL of your equipment. Accidental Deletion. Someone in your office accidentally formats the tape, erasing everything on the drive.

11 4 STEPS TO BUILDING A FAIL-SAFE DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN The key to surviving such an event is a business continuity strategy, a set of policies and procedures for reacting to and recovering from an IT-disabling disaster and the main component of a business continuity strategy is a disaster recovery plan (DRP).

12 Impact 1. RISK ANALYSIS The first step in building your firm s DRP should be performing an in-depth risk analysis of your IT systems. Formally outline all the potential threats that could compromise your data, and determine the likelihood that each threat could occur. Rank each threat in two important categories, probability and impact. In each category, rate the risks as low, medium or high. Likelihood Medium Priority High Priority Low Priority Medium Priority

13 2. ESTABLISH A BUDGET You ve done your risk analysis. Now it s time to ask what will mitigate those risks, and how much it will cost. For each threat that you listed in step 1, list a corresponding solution and cost. A good place to start is by presenting the cost of downtime to your company. How long can your business afford to be without its computer systems? Prioritize Budget Re- Evaluate Execute

14 3. DEVELOP THE PLAN Use the information you gathered in steps 1 and 2 to shape your DRP procedures. The procedures should be a formally written plan with specific instructions on how to handle each potential data threat. The plan will also answer questions like, What needs to be recovered first? and How long do we have before we need to be back up and running? What needs to be recovered first? How long can we afford to be down before we re back up and running?

15 4. TEST Once you have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place, test it and test it often. This can be handled manually by your firm, or by Nexxtep through our Data Security Verification service. (Source: Kunene, Glen. How to Create a Disaster Recovery Plan. DevX.com. January Available online at )

16 COMPONENTS OF A FAIL-SAFE DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN

17 1. AN OFFSITE BACKUP SERVICE Offsite backups, also called remote backups, online backups, or managed backups, is a service that allows you to maintain a secure copy of your data in a different location than your office. Usually this type of backup is done automatically via the Internet after hours to a high-security facility. There is no question that every business owner should have an offsite copy of their data; however, there ARE big differences among remote backup services and it s critical that you choose a good provider or you could end up paying a lot of money only to discover that recovering your data the very reason why you set up remote backups in the first place is not an easy, fast, or simple job.

18 Nexxtep offers a fully managed offsite backup service called StorGuard. Here s how it works: Maintains a secure copy of your data in two geographically separate data centers. Automated and backed up to a highly secured facility Helpful, friendly technicians available 24/7. Multiple revisions are saved. Advanced Data Support SQL, Exchange, Active Directory Continuously watched and planned by our staff. You never have to lift a finger; we ll take care of everything.

19 2. AN FILTERING SERVICE Use an filtering service that contains a recovery, archive and viewing component in the event your server is not working. N-Guard Spam Filtering has all of these features and more, and it s very affordable at just $4/user/month. Last month, it blocked almost one million security threats from entering the network of one of our clients.

20 3. A HARD COPY OF YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION This might include your tax returns, legal documents, or client information lists. Store these items in paper form offsite where it will be easily accessible in the event your building is destroyed.

21 4. FREQUENT UPDATES Potential threats to your company will change with time. Some threats may become more probable, and others might not even exist yet. Revisit your DRP once a year to ensure it is up to date and relevant.

22 5. EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATION Make your employees an active part of your planning and testing process. Practice mock disasters at your office. You can even get the police department and fire department involved in organizing a drill to make it seem more exciting and realistic. It will help prepare your employees and also give them a change of pace. It might sound silly, but you wouldn t want your first drill to occur during a real disaster. (Source: Anderson, John D. How s Your Disaster Recovery Plan? The CPA Technology Advisor. August Online at

23 READY TO GET STARTED? Building a fail-safe disaster recovery plan can be a time-consuming and daunting task, but Nexxtep can help. We would be happy to guide you as your firm builds a Disaster Recovery Plan. Every business should have a DRP in place. Not an idea, but a wellarticulated and detailed course of action to ensure that your business can get through a disaster and continue on in the aftermath. If you d like to get started, contact us here or call and ask for your lead technician, Richard Baker or me (Stuart Avera).

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