testing a disaster recovery plan

How can you test the strength of a disaster recovery plan?

It is not enough to have a solid IT disaster recovery plan and a business continuity program that looks amazing on paper. All your hard work in formulating a successful BCP and disaster recovery plan will be wasted if they are not properly and regularly tested. Imagine finding out that your DR/BC plan isn’t sufficient in the middle of an emergency such as power failures, and other local infrastructure failures, or a major disaster, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or Hurricane Katrina.    

EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP) certification, is the next option for IT professionals, Cybersecurity experts, and other Cybersecurity enthusiasts, who want to ensure they have the adequate knowledge needed to execute a successful disaster recovery program. With EDR, you can land a job in IT disaster recovery or other related fields, and also gain the BCP training needed for cyber-attack recovery. 

What should a business continuity plan include?

A business continuity plan ensures the continuity of your business operations in case of a cyber-attack or disaster. Regardless of the size of your organization, you aim to continue to remain competitive. The only way to ensure this is through a solid business continuity plan.

In case your company doesn’t yet have a BCP, or you are not sure about the validity of your BCP, have no fear. An ideal BCP outlines a disaster recovery solution that covers your business assets, processes, infrastructure, business partners, human resources, and more in the event of a disaster. Your BCP should be hinged on Risk Assessment, Business Impact Analysis, and Incidence Response Plan (IRP) that identifies and collects information about your critical business operations, their relative positionings, vulnerability assessments, attack behaviors, and potential response and recovery plan. 

If your company conducts business with the federal government and other arms of government, it is expected that you have a business continuity training, business continuity certification, and an updated BCP, which should be available for periodic review. To learn how to obtain an EDRP certification and join our growing community of DR professionals, click here.   

What is the difference between a business continuity plan and a disaster recovery plan? 

While BCP and disaster recovery plans share some similarities and have been used interchangeably, the two concepts are not the same. Their major difference lies in their scope. A disaster recovery plan is a process that ensures that a business restores all its essential applications and data following a disaster or cyber-attack. 

Whereas, the business continuity plan is the strategy that ensures the continuity of all the aspects of the business  if disaster strikes. BCP ensures that all your critical business operations are running with slight downtime or service outage. 

To learn more about BC/DR plans, visit our webpage for detailed EDRP courses. 

Why is it important to test your disaster recovery plan? 

The aim of your BCP and IT disaster recovery testing is to learn about the weaknesses within your disaster recovery plan. This is so you can find rapid solutions to them before they escalate and disrupt your capacity to reestablish your critical business operations. It is incredibly important that you test your disaster recovery plan so that you can be prepared to handle any incident that may affect your critical business processes. 

Similarly, DR testing is crucial for managed service providers. Testing your business continuity/ disaster recovery plan also increases your capacity to respond to and recover from different incidents, regardless of whether it is a natural disaster, a human-made disaster, or even a communication breakdown. DR testing is what validates you’re your disaster recovery program and your business continuity. 

It isn’t enough to test your BCP and disaster recovery plan once in a while. Regular testing is the only way to ensure that your IT disaster recovery team or Cyber-attack recovery team can reestablish your customer operations as quickly as possible after a disaster. An EDRP is often responsible for testing the adequacy and effectiveness of your IT disaster recovery plan and business continuity program. 

How often should a disaster recovery plan be tested? 

Your disaster recovery plan should be assessed, reviewed, and restructured at least once in a year. Every time you make significant modifications to your recovery strategies, operating software, human resources, equipment, and IT infrastructure, you should conduct a BCP and DRP test. 

The frequency of your drills/test is dependent on the type of business plan you are analyzing. Your IT disaster recovery and DRP requires the synchronization of activities between your vendor partnerships and your multifaceted technology configurations. The recommendation for your DRP testing is every year. However, due to the inclusiveness of your BCP, a bit more testing is required. 

You can take a BCP Training or a DRP course to ensure you are conversant with the nitty-gritty of DR testing. Business continuity online courses are available to help you formulate a high-quality disaster recovery plan and BCP. Other vendors also offer business continuity management certifications to help you conduct adequate DR testing.  

Make sure your Disaster Recovery Plan works when you need it 

How do you test a disaster recovery plan?

Your business continuity and disaster recovery plan outline the guidelines and processes your organization must trail in case of a disaster. Since no one knows when an emergency will strike, this is why it’s good to have a well-crafted BCP and disaster recovery plan (DRP). The following are the approach for conducting a successful BCP and DRP testing. 

1. Use different DRP testing techniques 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to testing the effectiveness and usability of your disaster recovery plan and BCP. There are various testing techniques available which you should exploit. 

  • Checklist   

This often includes the senior executives and departmental heads, who assess the BCP and DRP, deliberate on likely developments, update contact information, and ensure that BC/DR situations are adequately included. Making a checklist does not only identifies the consecutive sequence where crucial administrative and operational processes should be conducted, but it also typically functions in the structure of a QRG (quick-reference guide). 

  • Walk/Run Through 

A walk-through or run-through supports hands-on and procedural drill. This is similar to the structured walk-through drill with heads of department. The aim of this is to ensure that the core delegation channels and points of command to internal players are cognitively informed about what is expected of them in case of an emergency or disaster. This also includes automated and scripted contingencies, data validation, cloud backups, data replication tasks, Kick-off boot sequences, stand-by server switch-overs, and other technical components within your BCP and DRP. 

  • Simulation 

Simulation testing focuses on the restoration and recovery of key components of the disaster recovery plan via superficially genuine situations. This type of testing involves real-life testing of outmoded systems, restoring backups, loss recovery procedures, and other related activities. You should also test staff safety, leadership response, asset management, and relocation protocols. 

2. Realize how often testing is required   

A functional disaster recovery testing is required at least once every year. However, as stated earlier, there is no standard for how often you should test your DRP and BCP. Conduct an emergency evacuation drill, a structured walk-through, and a review of the risk assessment, BIA, and recovery plans once in a year. Conduct a checklist test, twice in a year. Similarly, your recovery simulation test/drill should be conducted at least every two or three years or as you deem fit for your business. 

Although these are the general guidelines that are often suggested, you shouldn’t follow them strictly. You should also understand that these time frames would be based on the size, industry, personnel, BCP maturity levels, and the available resources within your organization.   

EC-Council advises that you assess, review, and update all your Emergency Preparedness Plans all through the year, including your disaster recovery plan, business continuity plan, risk management, and incident response plan. To learn more about EC-Council’s DRP, click here. 

3. Involve Your Vendors 

During your testing cycle, that is, your checklist, Walk/Run through, and Simulation Test, you should make sure that your key vendor is covered in the testing procedure. Including your vendors in your testing activity permits you to review and assess to a larger extent, the precision and serviceability of your business plans. It also allows your vendors to offer adequate feedback s that may support your testing activities and plans. 

4. Record Your Tests or Drills 

Ensure you record and properly file the outcomes of your tests and drills. Document all findings that flout government regulations and compliance as well as other actionable outcomes. Once you’ve completed your drills and testing processes, record the findings, and apply those findings to adjust your DRP and BCP. Monitoring the results from your tests and integrating the suggestions realized from your testing process is the most appropriate method of reinforcing your company’s response techniques. 

About EDRP course: EC-Council Disaster Recovery Professional (EDRP) Course 

EDRP courses offer IT professionals, cybersecurity professionals, BC/DR consultants, CISOs and IT Directors, and other cybersecurity enthusiasts, with a robust understanding of business continuity and disaster recovery ideologies such a, developing policies and procedures, formulating risk assessments, conducting business impact analysis, and executing an effective plan. EDRP has four training options designed for your convenience, including, iLearn (Self-Study), iWeek (Live Online), Master Class, and Training Partner (In Person) training. EDRP courses are totally updated with a restructured curriculum that attempts the BC/DR domain with the newest trends and technologies, best practices, and encompasses modern industry gaps. To begin your certification journey with EC-Council, click here. 

Similar Reads: 

8 Things to add to your Cyber Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist 

AI and Machine Learning In Disaster Recovery  

3 Tips for building a strong disaster recovery plan 

8 Steps to a successful disaster recovery plan 

Is your cyber disaster recovery plan equipped to handle the latest cyber threats? 

Watch Now: 

How a DoS attack can affect business continuity 

Business Continuity in the new WFH Culture 

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