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Summarizing Risk Management Best Practices Tutorial

1 Summarizing Risk-Management Best Practices

In the world of networking and data protection, we always need to have contingency plans for business continuity. We should also have recovery plans in case of an emergency within the networking systems. Now let’s see the objectives covered in this lesson. After completing this lesson, you will be able to: • Describe the best practices of business continuity concepts • Identify critical systems and components • Explain business continuity planning and testing • State disaster recovery planning options • Define the levels of alternate sites Now let’s review certain key concepts such as Risk, Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Risk Management, covered in the previous lessons. Risk is a probability of threat exploiting vulnerability on a network and causing an impact. An impact results in harm to your network, services, or assets. Threats are defined as potential occurrence that can be caused by anything or anyone. The whole entity of a threat is the outcome impacts your environment in a negative manner. Vulnerabilities are a type of weakness. The weakness can be due to a flaw or limitation in a technology or a lack of a security control. Risk management attempts to minimize the impact, reduce vulnerabilities, and reduce the impact of potential threats. This can be done by implementing controls or countermeasures. However, it is not always possible to completely eliminate risk. So, we can say that, risk management is the attempt to reduce risk to an acceptable level.

2 Business Continuity Concepts

In this topic, you will learn the best practices to continue business continuity concepts. Business Continuity includes disaster-recovery planning and procedures. It is the ability of an organization to recover or maintain the mission-critical processes through events that pose as a threat to your network. A disaster is considered anything your business suffers from a sudden damage. Business Continuity also includes maintaining the network infrastructure so that it can be operated each and every day. While day to day operations are in place, business continuity is followed. Once these operations fail to continue, it then becomes a matter of disaster recovery. Business Impact Analysis or BIA is the process of performing risk assessment on business tasks and procedures, rather than on assets. BIA involves risk calculation that focuses on your security actions on areas that are most likely to get affected by the threat. The purpose of BIA is to determine the risks to business processes, and accordingly design protective and recovery solutions. This analysis allows you to maintain continuity, minimize downtime, and prepare fast recovery and restoration, in case of a disaster. This determines the critical resources for the ongoing day-to-day workflow. Additionally, this points out the threats that are plausible to your systems. This is a quantitative measure that helps you prioritize operations and resources within the organization.

3 Critical Systems and Components

In this topic, you will learn how to identify critical systems and components. Identification of critical Systems and components fall under the scope of BIA. It is a process of evaluating risk and determining the best response to the risks that may become incidents. There are things in every business that are completely mission-critical. You must identify these systems, and determine the mitigation steps you can put in place to prevent these systems from going down. If you don’t identify these systems, these safeguards can’t be put in place. BIA and risk assessment follow the same process. The only difference between them is that risk assessment focuses on assets, whereas, BIA on business tasks. The larger the Annualized Loss Expectancy, the more critical is the element for the organization. The concept of single point of failure or SPF explains that there is a failure in the single device or single line of communication that doesn’t possess any backup. If such a device fails to operate, it can cause production failure. A part of Business Impact Analysis is identifying and eliminating such SPFs. You can do this by implementing the concepts: Redundancy, Recovery options, and Alternative means to perform tasks and processes.

4 Business Continuity Planning and Testing

In this topic, you will learn about business continuity planning and testing. Despite safeguards, planning and preventative measures, disasters still strike. These can be natural disasters that affect the physical geographic location of your infrastructure, or other man-made disasters. In case of any disaster, the best practice is to create a plan, implement it, and get the operation back to its normal pace of functioning. Business Continuity Planning or BCP involves assessing risks for the organization, and creating plans and process. This will help in preventing damage or harm to the company during these disasters. BCP is the act of continuing a counter measure or contingency that takes into account your business needs. In case of any disruption, ensure the business either continues without interruption, or is back to its earlier running state. Business Continuity Planning maintains business operations with limited capabilities and resources. If the continuity is broken and operations halted by the disaster, the disaster recovery plans or DRP should take over. There is a distinct difference between the two. DRPs fill the gaps of BCP. To ensure your plans always work, test them before implementing in the event of an actual disaster. If the plan fails, the management might lose confidence, which can have direct impact on the business. As previously discussed, risk assessment is evaluation of assets, threats, and risks to create a security measure. Risk assessments are key features, and play an important role in Business Continuity Planning, as they evaluate the weaknesses and points that threaten its planning. Availability is an assurance of access to resources necessary to perform job roles. From a technical stand point, high availability is when you secure the accessibility of a system. This means, it has an access and throughput with sufficient bandwidth to accomplish the requested tasks with a failover or redundancy to prevent downtime if there is an outage of the device. This is a form of Fault Tolerance. Fault Tolerance is the ability of a system device or network to survive certain failures. For example, if you have two routers that are in high availability, then there exists fault tolerance if one of the routers fail. In this case, the other router will pick up where the previous one left. Fault Tolerance, like redundancy, creates an extended continuity of operations. Another form of high availability is server clustering. This is creating a cluster of failover servers, so that if one goes out, or can no longer handle the load, its load failsover to another server. Disaster Recovery Plan or DRP is a collection of procedures and policies used in the event if business continuity ceases. These policies define how to get operations back to a functioning state, how long it takes for the operations to function again, and what is the acceptable downtime. Disaster Recovery Plan or DRP is a key part of the security management plans, and is an extension of BCP. BCP and DRP rely on each other and on backup contingencies. The combined BCP and DRP consists of the following: • Risk Analysis and Assessment: This relates risks to each and every aspect of the organization then performs risk analysis to determine the most critical aspect. • Business Impact Analysis: This enables you to determine impact of a risk on business continuity, and the maximum allowed downtime. • Strategic Planning for Mitigation of Risks: This includes countermeasures and safeguards used to minimize the effect of Risk. • Training and Awareness: This includes a mitigation process to secure the environment, and determines the responsibilities of employees in the event of an emergency. • Maintenance and Auditing of the Plan: This needs to be done to update the current plan with changes in the systems and infrastructure.

5 IT Contingency Planning

This is a plan that appears to protect or recover an IT infrastructure. This is usually a part of either BCP or DRP, but at times this is an independent plan. An IT Contingency plan is not just a backup plan, but a series of backup plans. Succession planning identifies the chain of commands and users who replace or takeover leadership roles in the case of an emergency. This doesn’t have to be something unexpected. This could be a retirement or a planned shift in the company. Also, this type of planning should include appropriate training to prepare an individual for the role changes that may take place in the event of disaster. High availability of a company means there is a backup plan or device that minimizes downtime in case of a failure or an overload. High availability can be created with replacement or spare parts, or setting up duplicate devices for failover or clusters. To create high availability, every information or data path should be redundant and also eliminate single points of failure. The power management feature is also required with high availability. This can be used to provide uninterrupted power supply during a possible outage. In case of low power levels, this feature can be used to send devices into a safe shutdown state to prevent data loss. However, during an electrical outage, it is recommended to use a gas-powered generator. This ensures long life of the stored power. Redundancy implies, having alternate means to perform work in case of an outage. Cloned servers are common examples for redundant systems. Here, as a server stops responding, another server takes over. In a redundant environment, the rollover of services from the not-responding devices to the working devices can be either be automatic or manual. Manual rollover is also termed as cold rollover, whereas the automatic rollover is termed as hot rollover. In the former, an individual has to manually set up the working device for a rollover, which is time-consuming process. In the latter, the hot rollover, the working device or entity detects the outage, and automatically performs the required steps for the rollover. Additionally, redundancy includes other mechanisms such as Failsecure, Failsafe, Failsoft, and Failopen. Failsecure systems are able to resort to a secure state when an error or violation is encountered. Failsafe is similar to failsecure, but human safety is protected in this event. Failsoft is a modified version of failsecure. Here, only the portion of a system that has experienced failure, will continue to function in a secure facet. In Failopen, all preventions or controls are switched to a non-secure and wide open network. This mechanism is generally observed in biometric locks, and is triggered in the case of emergency or fire. It automatically unlocks all doors to ensure that people can get out of the building without going through the mandatory biometric check.

6 Tabletop Exercises

Tabletop Exercises are termed as a structured walk through. This is a meeting event that focuses on a possible emergency situation. It is usually performed verbally or with minimum visual aids. It is a game plan to walk through an emergency event, and evaluate the plan in a stress free environment. The topic of discussion generally consists of steps to be taken in an emergency response or recovery to highlight roles, assess responsibilities, detect deficiencies, and address oversights and alternate options. The concept of fault tolerance ensures accurate functioning of the system even when its components fail to respond. These components can be related to hardware, software, and power management. The concept of fault tolerance attached with hardware enable you to design your network and physical environment. This would be done with the help of redundancy and backups, and by deploying a dual network backbone. You should be ready for replacement of devices or redundancy devices at any given point of time, when there is single point of failure of mission critical object. If you want to avoid single point of failure, you need to decide some actions that would help in in providing alternate processing, failover capabilities, and quick recovery of the devices or systems. Redundant Array of Independent Disks or RAID is a solution that employees multiple hard drives in a single storage volume. There are several RAID outlooks that provide either performance enhancements or different levels of fault tolerance. When you use RAID, you have multiple drives that appear to be a single volume. So, in the event of failure of one drive, it is replaced by the other, and the replacing drive automatically rebuilds the missing data. This ensures you do not suffer any outage. The displayed chart describes the different RAID levels. RAID 5 is fault tolerant. It provides the ability to lose one drive without suffering a critical outage. RAID 1 is mirrored. It allows losing half the drives without suffering a critical outage. RAID 0 is no fault tolerance. It offers enhancement to performance, and striping data across multiple drives. It is important to note that you can combine different RAID levels for different types of fault tolerances. Clustering is like RAIDing whole servers. It is a type of redundancy that puts multiple duplicate servers in such a way they share the workload of mission critical applications or virtual machines. These clustered systems appear to be a single device. A cluster controller manages traffic to and among the clustered systems to balance the workload across all clustered servers. As changes occur on one of the clustered systems, they are immediately duplicated to all other cluster partners. Load balancers are used to spread or distribute network traffic across multiple clustered or fault tolerant devices. This process is known as load balancing. Another way to avoid single points of failure is by utilizing redundant servers. These are clones of the primary server and they receive regular data updates once the primary server is updated. In case the primary server is not responding, the service is switched-over to the secondary or redundant server. This switch-over can be automatic or manual. The automatic switchover is termed as hot switchover, whereas the manual switchover is referred as cold switchover. In the former, since the process is automatic, there is hardly any downtime. Whereas, the latter switchover is dependent on the administrator. So there can be a considerable downtime for the users. The redundant servers can be placed either in the primary vault server, or in a remote location. It is recommended to place the secondary or redundant server in a remote location, so the disaster on the primary server is unlikely to cause any damage to the secondary server. However, considering the effort and time for daily mirroring and storing the secondary server, the recommended method can be an expensive affair.

7 Disaster Recovery Planning options

In this topic, you will learn about disaster recovery planning options. Disaster recovery should be a part of every company or organization. During a disaster there is never an entity that remains unaffected. The Disaster recovery process should try and proactively have controls and processes in place that allow the recovery of all data, and if that is not possible, at least the mission critical data to minimize downtime. The DRP or Disaster Recovery Plan should consist of options for Backup Plans or Policies, and Backup Execution or Frequency. A backup contingency plan is an alternate solution or response in case the primary plan is not successful. This is sometimes known as a backup contingency plan. These should be created considering legal and financial aspects. Backups are necessary for business continuity, as they provide insurance against damage and data loss. They are necessary for both small and large scale enterprises. Backups that are not maintained may cause accidental data loss that may be important to a department or employee. It also means that an extensive amount of companywide and business necessary data lost in a disaster cannot be recovered. Backups should be tested regularly to ensure they are working as expected and sufficient to complete the required their task. There are three primary types of backup. • Full: The full backup creates a copy of the data in the backup device or media irrespective of the archive bit settings. The archive bit is reset or cleared for this type of backup. • Incremental: In this type, only the files with a set or flagged archive bit are copied to the backup media. Once the files are copied, the archive bit is reset or cleared. This enables to select only the new files or the ones that are changed. • Differentials: This type is similar to the Incremental type, and the only difference is that, it does not alter the archive bit settings. Daily incremental backups consume the same time and storage space. On the other hand, differentials grow larger and take longer time each day. The full type is used to restore the initial file set, then either all the incremental data is stored in chronological order, or just the last differential data is restored in order to regain access. Best practice indicates that backup data should be kept offsite to avoid data loss due to a geographic disaster. Tape backup should be stored in appropriate environmental conditions in a fireproof safe, protected from physical damage, theft or alterations. When you recover and restore data securely it helps you in ensuring that all data and servers can be restored after a disaster with minimal loss or without violating security rules. This restoration of data can be done only when you have a backup with appropriate security labels.

8 Alternate Sites

In this topic, you will learn about various levels of alternate sites. The widely accepted recovery procedure uses an alternate sites. This site is a secondary location where business can move and continue to perform its operations. These alternate sites have three levels: Cold Site, Hot Site, and Warm Site. Cold Site is a form of fault tolerant facilities. Many organizations utilize a secondary location, or rent a location with bare minimum power and utilities. This site is used only if a disaster hits the primary location, and requires all equipment to be moved somewhere to continue operations. It is the least expensive option, but it does not offer a realistic hope of recovery. Hot site is a fully redundant site that is based on the full backup type, and runs with all business and operations plans. Hot sites are extremely expensive to maintain but can often be found to be used by data center type of business. So, if something happens to one location, the business is immediately up and running they at another. Hot site requires dedicated support staff for maintenance, and to keep it consistent with the primary site. Warm sites are partially configured alternate locations that take minimum set up to get them functioning to the required level of a DRP. These sites are not as expensive as hot sites, and can be set up quickly than cold sites.

10 Summary

Let’s summarize the topics covered in this lesson. • BIA is the process of performing risk assessment on business tasks and procedures, rather than on assets. • BCP involves assessing risks for the organization, and creating plans and process. • Availability is an assurance of access to resources necessary to perform the required job roles. • DRP is a collection of procedures and policies used in the event that business continuity ceases. • Redundancy meams having a secondary or alternate means to perform the work in case of an outage. • A backup contingency plan is an alternate solution or response in case the primary plan is not successful. • Full, Incremental, and Differentials are the three primary types of backup. With this, we conclude the lesson, ‘Summarizing Risk-management Best Practices.’ The next lesson is, ‘Select the Appropriate Controls to Meet the Goals of Security.’

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  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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