Information Technology Contingency Plan
Technological advancements in the information technology (IT) realm have been accompanied by a rapid rise in the rate of cybercrime. It is, therefore, imperative that organizations take all necessary measures to protect their IT equipment, data, and services from cyber criminals. Since it is almost impossible to predict cyberattacks, organizations must develop contingency plans to mitigate the impact a disruption could cause. A contingency plan comprises a course of action designed to help a company respond effectively to future interruption incidents, events, or situations.
Importance of a Contingency Plan in a Company
A contingency plan refers to a well-coordinated strategy that incorporates plans and technical measures aimed to help a company recover information technology systems, operations, and data after an interruption. The plan helps guide an organization to recover faster from system interruption or security breach whether resulting from natural causes or an attack carried out on purpose (GSA, 2022). Thus, a contingency plan is significantly important to organizations because it protects IT assets and sensitive company and customer data by facilitating faster recovery from any security breach or system interruption.
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Most Important Parts of a Contingency Plan
The most important parts of a contingency plan include the introduction, systems of operation, notification and activation phase, recovery operations, and return to normal operations. The introduction part of a contingency plan entails the purpose, applicability, and scope of the framework. It also describes the policies and references/requirements that underpin the contingency plan (GSA, 2022).
The concept of operations part incorporates system description and architecture, and line of succession, responsibilities. The concept of operations section provides a general description of the system design and functionality. The line of succession section provides decision-making authority for the plan to ensure it is uninterrupted by identifying individuals responsible for implementing the contingency plan and their positions. The responsibilities section describes the role of each individual in the line of succession with regard to responding to a contingency event (GSA, 2022).
The notification and activation part addresses the initial actions that an organization must take to detect and assess the damage inflicted by an interruption to the information technology system. The section addresses damage assessment procedures, alternate assessment procedures, and stipulates the criteria that must be met for the contingency plan to be activated. The section also identifies the individual responsible for activating the plan based on the assessment (GSA, 2022).
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The recovery operations part details procedures for recovering data at the alternative site when the company directs other efforts to repair damage to the original system and capabilities. The procedures are usually outlined per team required. The section also describes the sequence the procedures must follow to maintain efficiency. The sequence is informed by the goals of the recovery operations (GSA, 2022).
The last part, return to normal operations, discusses activities that are necessary for restoring the information technology system operations at the organization’s original or new site. The part details concurrent processing and plan deactivation. Concurrent planning outlines procedures for operating the system in a harmonious fashion with the system at the original or new site. The plan deactivation section outlines procedures that must be followed to clean the alternate site of any materials or equipment to the organization, mainly focusing on handling sensitive information (GSA, 2022).
Notably, the above-described parts of an IT contingency plan allow for the restoration of information by utilizing alternate equipment. Second, the performance of some or all of the affected organizational processes using alternate processing. Third, recovery of information technology system’s operations at an alternate site. Fourth, the implementation of the appropriate contingency planning controls as informed by the level of impact on the information technology system’s security (NIST, 2020).
Consequences of Not Having a Contingency Plan
Failure to have a contingency plan can have detrimental consequences for an organization. Some of the consequences include complete data loss, business interruption or failure, damaged reputation, loss of clients, and lastly expensive recovery if the company recovers at all. In today’s world, a company’s data is significantly important. If a business loses suffers a complete loss of its data it can crumble. Regarding business interruption, any time a business is not operating, it loses money and if the interruption is lengthy then it can also lose customers (Sakurai & Murayama, 2019). Whereas clients may be fond of a business, they are likely to leave if the company suffers data loss because they lose trust in the company’s ability to secure their sensitive data. Lastly, the cost associated with the recovery of data loss is influenced by various factors including the cost to replace hardware, the cost to rekey data, the decline in employee productivity, and the loss of daily profits. The cost can prove significantly hefty for a company to incur (Sakurai & Murayama, 2019). Thus, companies must always ensure they have an effective information technology system contingency plan.
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