Business Continuity & Enterprise IT Disaster Management Featured

Disaster Management and Contingency

 

Summary and Value Proposition

 

Business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) planning begins with a thorough risk assessment. Risk assessment is part of a larger risk management process found in most businesses. The four major components of the BC/DR risk assessment are threat assessment, vulnerability assessment, impact assessment, and risk mitigation strategy development.

 

In this article , we focus on threat and vulnerability assessment. In order to perform a thorough threat assessment, you need to look at threats and threat sources both internal and external to the company. It is often helpful to assess risk based on the potential risks to people, process, technology, and infrastructure.

People are not only the company’s employees but also its vendors, partners, customers,

and the larger community in which it operates. Processes are all the business

and IT processes used in the business. Processes are used to generate revenue, track

expenses, and manage operations from facilities management to human resources

and beyond.

 

From an IT-centric viewpoint, the key components to address in the risk assessment

are people, process, technology, and infrastructure. It includes hardware,

software (OS and applications), system interfaces (internal, external connection

points), people who support the IT systems, users who use the IT systems, data, information

and records, processes performed by the IT systems, system’s value or importance

to the organization (system criticality), and system and data sensitivity

(confidential, trade secret, medical data, etc.). The operating environment in which

the IT systems function includes a wide variety of elements. Among them are the

functional and technical requirements of the systems; security policies, procedures,

and controls; network topology and information flow diagrams, data storage protection

policies, procedures, and controls; encryption, physical, and environmental

controls.

 

 Analysis of the Situation

 

The methods used to gather data for any of the assessment phases typically

include questionnaires, interviews, document reviews, and research. Questionnaires

not only can be helpful in structuring desired input but also can have the downside of

containing built-in biases, often unintentionally. Interviews can be conducted with

subject matter experts and yield more useful information than questionnaires but

may also generate a lot of tangential or unneeded data. Reviewing documents and

performing research can supplement the questionnaire and interview process.

Once you’ve defined the methods you’ll use to gather the necessary data, you can

begin your review of various threats. We discussed many different types of threats

that fall into three primary categories: natural and environmental threats, human caused

threats, and infrastructure threats.

 

Infrastructure threats are caused by either natural or human causes, and it’s important to delineate these because they involve people, processes, and technologies outside the company and the company’s control.

As such, they sometimes can be overlooked in IT BC/DR planning. Natural threats

include those we might commonly think of such as fire, flood, or earthquake, but we

also discussed other less obvious threats including volcanoes, droughts, and pandemics.

Human-caused threats can be intentional as in the case of terrorism, labor

disputes, or workplace violence, or they can be unintentional as can be the case with

fire, flood, or a security breach. Infrastructure threats include those to the building as

well as external to the building and the company. Public transportation including

roads, rails, seaports, and airports are all external infrastructure elements that need

to be assessed. Other external elements include threats to water and food supplies,

biological and chemical hazards, and public utilities such as the power grid, petroleum

and fuel supplies, or telecommunications.

 

 Threat Assessment

 

The threat assessment methodology begins with a list of all potential threats and

threat sources. Each threat source is then evaluated. Some people like to assess likelihood

of occurrence and vulnerability to the threat; others prefer to include both likelihood

and vulnerability in a single assessment. Regardless of whether you choose to

break them into two distinct ratings or one rating, the likelihood of occurrence and

vulnerability rating(s) should be assessed for each threat source. The argument for

making two separate assessments is that a threat may have a high likelihood of occurring,

but your company and its people, processes, technology, and infrastructure may

not be vulnerable to those threat sources. Others would argue that if there is a

therefore not be assessed separately. Either method is acceptable as long as you make

a conscious decision as to how to proceed and use the same process throughout your

risk assessment cycle.

 

  Qualitative Assessment

 

You can perform a quantitative assessment in which actual values such as dollars

or frequency are known. The benefit to this type of assessment is that you can generate

hard data that can be used in a standard cost/benefit analysis. The downside is

that not all values are easy (or possible) to derive, and an unacceptable amount of

time or money may be required to generate that data. You can also perform a qualitative

assessment in which values are relative. These types of assessments use labels

such as high, medium, and low or an arbitrary numbering system such as 1-100 where

1¼no chance or extremely low, 50¼medium chance or about average, and

100¼will occur or extremely high chance. These kinds of systems are much easier

to implement but typically generate less specific data that are unsuitable for a standard

cost/benefit analysis. In analyzing threat data, qualitative measurements are

often sufficient to generate a clear picture of the threats facing the organization.

The vulnerability assessment may include the likelihood of occurrence or it may

be a separate rating. However, the same processes can be used to evaluate vulnerability

as were used to assess threats. Questionnaires, interviews, document reviews,

and research can help in generating data needed to assess the actual or relative vulnerability

to a threat. This rating is compiled with the threat assessment data and is

used as the input to the BIA phase.

 

 The Bottom Line

 

The bottom line is that your risk assessment activities will end up, generating a

list of threats and threat sources that you’ll be able to evaluate. You can sort the list

and decide which risks you need to address, which can be accepted, and which should

be transferred. You’ll have the data to make this decision once you complete the BIA,

the third major step in the risk assessment process.

BC/DR Operations Management

 

BC/DR is the Process of Planning and Implementation of  disasters caused by natural phenomena and or man made situation. It is interesting to note that 90 % of small and medium business cease of  exist after 2 years , if they did not have written BC/DR plan in place[3]. Large Business in US and Canada also have  Legal and financial implications of safeguarding taxation and revenue data.

 Planning and execution of BC/DR requires knowledge of operations management and contingency analysis. IT Network Management plays a crucial role in planning recovery phase of the BC/DR process. Six sigma, Lean and Agile Process are used in many occasions.

 Figure 1.4 shows the subject area expertise that is needed to implement BC/DR process of  an organization. As shown in figure 1.4 BC/DR calls for diverse expertise on the part of the organization. It is due to this reason sometimes external technical  help is sought.

 

In BC/DR the following points must be accessed by the operations manager and CEO of  an organization

 

  1. Cost of planning verses the cost of failure
  2. Business impact analysis
  3. Legal and Regulatory Obligations-  , shareholders and taxation department- stolen credit card number is an example.
  4. BC/DR Project management and  analysis of operations management
  5. Risk Assessment
  6. IT and Physical infrastructure threats
  7. BC/DR in health care and  emergency services
  8. Risk mitigation strategy development
  9. IT Risk Mitigation- backup and recovery,  cloud based solutions as an alternative.
  10. Communicating and receiving input on all  stakeholders
  11. Agreement on the level of acceptable risk.
  12. Emergency response and recovery procedure
  13. Assignment of chief BC/DR coordinator
  14. Training testing and auditing BC/DR process

 

In  a public organization like  municipality, school, hospital , you are legally obligated to maintain and enact a BC/DR plan. However in small business and corporations you have legal obligations from shareholder and revenue collection agency. Simply saying you have lost all your financial data due to natural disaster and IT disaster is not acceptable.

 

 BC/DR Needs to be continually tested, audited and checked for validity. As the organization grows, the outdated BC/DR will not work properly of  the contingency plan is not updated accurately.

We at Keen Computer designs  business continuity and disaster recover plan for your Organization. Please contact one of the subject area experts to discuss the possibilities.

 

References:

1.0   Eight Ingredients of Enterprise Recovery Plan- http://www.cio.com/article/3090892/disaster-recovery/8-ingredients-of-an-effective-disaster-recovery-plan.html

2.0 IT Disaster Recovery Plan- https://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/IT

3.0 Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery for IT Professionals,  Second Edition- ISBN-13: 978-0124105263

 

Last modified on Thursday, 17 November 2016 18:50

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