Tag Archives: testing

Five Profiles to Ponder When You Start Testing Your Business Continuity

DRI ANZ

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Good business continuity planning may be half the battle. But if you haven’t tested to check your plan works, then don’t expect to win. The example of organisations that did data backups, failed to test and found afterwards their files were unrecoverable proves the point. But how should you test your BCP? Approaches from other areas may have some useful pointers. Good software testing for instance is often a matter of mixing and matching human tester personalities. Here’s a tester profile model adapted for testing your BC plan and preparations.

  1. The person who asks ‘Why?’ Thinks it is pointless to waste resources on testing an unnecessary item when another vital item might be neglected. May tax some people’s patience, but can help to better focus your business continuity testing.
  2. The systems specialist. Knows some of the systems and processes of the organisation very well, but sometimes makes unsound BC testing suggestions when in unfamiliar territory. Suggestions tend to improve over time.
  3. The visionary. Doesn’t spend time on individual threats as much as the possible combinations that could truly sink an enterprise. Finds less holes in your plan, but more likely to find the really big ones.
  4. The quick take. Spots the immediate weaknesses. The counterpart to the visionary in some senses. A useful resource for running quick, iterative checks on your plan as you develop it or before you show it to your own manager.
  5. The thick-skinned. Considers that keeping people and the organisation safe are top priorities and is prepared to dive into possible problems or shortcomings (while exercising tact where possible). Less of a specialist, but sees each test also as an opportunity to add to his or her personal collection of methods, tools, tips and tricks to make BC work properly.

If you can only have one tester, then number 5 – ‘thick-skinned’ – will often be the best compromise. Maybe you are that person! But if you can also get testers 1, 2, 3 and 4 to positively contribute to testing your business continuity, then that will be even better.

7 Basic Ways to Ensure Good Business Continuity Planning

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Smart business continuity planners regularly return to the basics. Although BCP can be complex if a particular situation makes it so, good plans are still built on solid and simple foundations. By keeping these in mind, BC planners can avoid straying from the straight and narrow path that must be followed if business continuity is to be guaranteed.

  1. Cover all areas. Even if IT is often a large part of BCP, it’s not the only part. All functional departments must be considered, as well as all sites including headquarters and branch offices.
  2. Check inputs and outputs. If a key supplier breaks down or if your distribution network fails, only good business continuity plan that includes these external factors will save you.
  3. Focus on handling outcomes. While it’s important to prevent a problem from happening again, it’s the effect that will have an immediate impact on your business. Trying to identify every possible individual incident leads to unmanageable detail. Plan to handle the effect first (different problems can have the same effect) to ensure continuity. Then eradicate the cause.
  4. Write it down. Or type it out at your PC. You need a document you can refer to and copy to the relevant people so that it is available to them at all times.
  5. Test it. You should make the most realistic test possible without upsetting (too much) the daily working of your organisation. But you must test. An untested plan is incomplete.
  6. Plan for the media. If a crisis hits and your organisation must react to ensure its continuity, the public and the media may want details about what is happening. Designate the right people to communicate with the media and make sure everybody else refers the media to those individuals.
  7. Update it. Business continuity planning needs periodic revision and continuing attention. Like getting your car serviced and watering your plants! Define a review cycle (every six months perhaps) and note the action you must take in your agenda – and in the agenda of all other required participants in the BCP review process.

The Mega-Test of Your Business Continuity You’ve Been Waiting For

DRI ANZ

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You’ve trained for business continuity challenges. You’ve planned and practised, in case that server crash, flood, fire or earthquake hits your business tomorrow. But all these events are subject to chance. They may or may not happen. Here’s another challenge to business continuity that will certainly happen however, and that is likely to affect a vast number of organisations and enterprises around the world. It’s the end of support by Microsoft for its Windows XP operating system. To understand why this is such a major event, after over 12 years of XP existence, we should start by looking at some of the statistics.

Between one quarter and one third of the world’s desktop computers are estimated to still be running Windows XP. That’s huge. Not only that, but Windows XP has also found its way into other systems as an embedded operating system: ATM networks are just one example. XP’s longevity has been helped by its quality as an operating system (relatively good) and the opinion of users of the Windows Vista OS that followed it (relatively poor). Microsoft has supplied both patches and support up to the current day. When this stops on April 8 of this year (2014) however, users may find themselves exposed to a variety of risks.

The threat from cybercriminals may increase. Hackers may be storing up attacks on XP to unleash them after the end of support in April, when no coordinated response will be available to counter them. Buying support from third parties moving to fill the support void left by Microsoft is one option, although this may become expensive. Upgrading to a later, supported version of the Windows operating system is another. However, Windows 8 isn’t everybody’s favourite either. In short, if you want to know how good your business continuity planning and management is, trying to figure out how to handle XP end-of-support could be the test you’ve been waiting for.

Japan to Test Disaster Warning System

The Japan Times reports that the country’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency plans to test a disaster warning system using Internet-based social-networking services this summer.

The system, which will be based on a major disaster, will tap into the Internet, which is more accessible than telephone lines in times of disaster, and help in mobilizing prompter assistance, the officials told the Japan Times. The test will simulate people caught up in disasters using their computers or mobile phones to summon for help via such sites as Twitter and Japan’s social-networking site Mixi, the officials said.

From Drive Issue #57