Data-related disasters can come in a broad range of types and scales. The most common types of disasters are floods, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural events that can impact your technology and data assets.
You may find yourself thinking, “Well, we put everything in the cloud now.” Are you sure the data was relayed to the cloud by the user? Are you sure the data was sent to the correct location?
What Is a Disaster Recovery Audit?
Also referred to or addressed as an IT audit, a disaster recovery audit is the process of collecting and evaluating information about a business’s information systems, procedures, practices, operations and governance. Once the information, or evidence, is obtained, the internal auditor evaluates all of it to determine whether the information systems are adequately protecting assets, maintaining data integrity and operating effectively and efficiently to ensure that the organization achieves its goals and objectives.
You Are Not Alone If You Are Uncertain About What You Need for a Disaster Recovery Audit
Hopefully the above scenarios reinforce just how important a high-quality disaster recovery audit it is for your organization. If you are convinced of its importance, the next question is: “Do you have everything you need for your next disaster recovery audit?”
Do you know just what you need for your upcoming disaster recovery audit? If not, you are not alone. Many businesses are in a similar position. A 2014 story from The Providence Journal published the results of a benchmark study via the Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DPR) Council, which revealed that 73 percent of companies polled are unprepared for disaster recovery. With such a low number of companies engaging in general disaster recovery preparedness, one may conclude that even fewer businesses commit to regular disaster recovery audits.
You can use this information as a way to look at your disaster recovery audit preparedness as an opportunity to stay a step or two ahead of the competition. But of course, audit preparation is really its own reward since you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your data and technology are safe, thanks to taking any and all proper precautions.
Everything You Need for Your Next Disaster Recovery Audit
In the ever-changing technological landscape, it is a little tricky to stay up-to-date on what you need to protect your data and technology assets from any type of disaster.
We thought it might help to provide you with some key items that will help you sail through your next disaster recovery audit with great success:
- Disaster recovery objectives, policies and mission statement.
- Copy of disaster recovery plan, along with history of all updates, along with the most current version.
- A designated hot site or cold site to sustain business operations should the primary data center become compromised and inoperable. A hot site features all necessary space, furnishings and technological equipment available to the customer, allowing them to seamlessly continue business operations. A cold site features office space, but the disaster-affected customer must supply furnishings and equipment.
- The ability to recover data and systems.
- Details about processes for frequent and consistent backup of data and systems.
- Test drills of disaster procedures that may include activities like accessing the damaged area or determining how to alert or contact users within the system.
- Systems and data backups stored in the cloud or otherwise off-site.
- Current and relevant listing of disaster recovery personnel, including the committee members, chairperson and any possible backups.
- Facility-specific practices, such as clearly listing emergency telephone numbers and insurance carrier information.
- Emergency notification systems and any other tools and procedures intended for quick and effective communication.
- Current and validated system and operational documentation.
- Emergency procedures for all employees at all facilities, including IT assets.
- Vendor lists for all hardware and software, which may also include contractual agreements like SLAs.
- Workflows for both automated and manual procedures.
- Work from global business continuity standards guide.
A well-designed and fully followed disaster recovery audit—based on current policies and procedures instills in the confidence your team needs to stay calm during any disaster situation. Everyone can stay sharp with the knowledge you can handle anything that comes your way.
What Are Some Challenges You May Face During a Disaster Recovery Audit?
There are some basic challenges that businesses face when setting out to perform a disaster recovery audit. The first and foremost being that it is not always easy to gain access to senior management support, which may include budgetary funding or access to key staff. Without fully mimicking a disaster scenario, according to the dictates of an audit, recommended actions from the audit may not be fulfilled.
Additional challenges companies may face include:
- Obtaining all necessary information.
- Securing follow-up meetings and interviews with vital staff members.
- Making sure all information is the most current.
- Ensuring that the business continuity and data recovery program addresses the most crucial business-related and technology issues.
Again, following the list of what should be included in your audit should help you smooth out the challenges over time, if not immediately.
When Should You Perform a Disaster Recovery Audit?
Routine disaster recovery audits should be performed annually. However, if there are significant changes to your disaster recovery or business continuity plan, you may consider performing an intermittent audit.
Who Should Perform Your Disaster Recovery Audit?
The internal auditor manages disaster recovery planning and audits. Thanks to his or her activities set in understanding the organization’s controls and systems, as well as identifying and evaluating certain risk exposures, the internal auditor is uniquely qualified to perform regular audits.
Do You Need to Hire a Third-Party Auditor to Perform Your Disaster Recovery Audit?
If you do not have any staff members who are qualified or experienced with performing disaster recovery audits, you may benefit from reaching out to a third-party auditor who specializes in data recovery and business continuity to serve as your internal auditor.
Do you need someone to fulfill the duties of internal auditor for your next disaster recovery audit? Maybe you need help determining whether one of your staff members can fulfill the duties of the job? Our I.S. Partners, LLC. team can do anything from help you develop your disaster recovery and business continuity plans to stepping in to perform the audit.