Disasters — be they natural, man-made, or technological — are a very real part of life. They throw environments into a state of emergency by turning them upside down and challenging those affected to act immediately to savor and protect what they can. This so they may recover and restore the world in prospect of things resuming as they were before.

These experiences have led to the understanding that disasters are inevitable. Because of this, ways to navigate states of emergency have been developed in hopes of 1) reducing the severe effects caused by disasters, and 2) preventing them all together where possible.

As a result, the concept of Emergency Management emerged based on four core principles used to address disaster: Prevention/Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

These four principles are used to guide communities, organizations, and businesses through disaster or emergency management. Through this framework, organizations ensure they have the resources needed to manage disasters, and reduce the impact caused by them.

Why Is a Disaster Management Framework Necessary?

For organizations that value their longevity, disaster management is a vital precautionary measure. An investment in disaster management is essential in reducing vulnerability, lessening losses, for convalescence as a result of disasters, and protecting assets.

The risks that lie in insufficient or nonexistent disaster management policies have effects that far exceed the short-term stability of an organization.

Beyond the known natural and human-made disasters, businesses today face the constant threat of existing and developing digital crises. This has generated the need for digital solutions that combat issues concerning network and data security against issues of network and data attacks, cloud storage where hardware and on-premises servers are vulnerable to physical damage, and backups in case of potential data loss.

Cloud computing provides a resolution to many of these threats. In a research paper titled Principles of Cloud Computing Application in Emergency Management, it was stated “Cloud computing offers capabilities to automate many services, to expedite the implementation of secure configurations to information devices, to reduce dependence on removable media due to broadband services, and to lower costs in disaster recovery and data storage.”

Data is an invaluable asset to organizations and its loss during disasters can lead to irreparable damage. The consequences include disruption in productivity, exposure of sensitive information, jeopardization of client/customer relationships, a damaged public reputation, and overall business failure.

In 2020, the Dutch government lost a drive containing the personal information of 6,9 million registered organ donors. This incident resulted in the susceptibility of the donors to identity theft. While officials expressed that the information lost was not sensitive and remained unused, an incident in which sensitive data is retrieved by malicious attackers could severely jeopardize the well-being and even lives of organizations and their clients.

Research conducted by Gartner in 2014 showed that downtime was costing businesses $5600 per minute and hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. Integrated Computer Services lists human error, cybercrime, hardware failure, software failure, power outages, and natural disasters as the top causes of server downtime. These are potential disasters that different aspects of cloud computing offer solutions to. Vendors such as Sangfor provide security tools and managed services for organization cloud environments for cloud computing, cybersecurity, and infrastructure.

By partnering with vendors that cater not only to their current business needs but forecast potential disaster demands, organizations both put in place crisis management structures and hand over the workload of setting these structures up to a third party.

Who Is in Charge of Creating and Implementing the Disaster Management Plan?

Organizations function as a unit, and as such are affected by disasters as a whole. While the organization may elect individuals to act as part of a recovery team tasked with developing, documenting, and executing procedures for recovery, all members and employees from staff to stakeholders must be informed of the steps to be taken in the case of any disaster.

The disaster recovery team may include a recovery team head, crisis management coordinator, business continuity expert, impact assessment and recovery advisor, and more.

What Are the Four Phases of Emergency Management?

The phases actioned as DM measures exist to assist organizations in planning ahead, wading through, successfully surviving, and recovering from disruptive events. There are several key elements and various possible ways to implement each phase individually, and phases are not mutually exclusive.

Mitigation/Prevention:

While organizations cannot predict which or when disasters will befall them, they can plan ahead. This entails assessing all possible risks and weighing the severity of each individually, followed by setting up procedures to be taken in case of occurrence. These measures assist organizations in avoiding, limiting, accepting, or transferring any impact sustainable or sustained in the event of a disaster. Michael Herrera defines risk mitigation as taking steps to reduce adverse effects. By doing so, organizations develop rulebooks that outline in-case-of-emergency steps to be taken by all members of the organization, creating order and lowering anxiety during these disruptions. There are several ways to implement mitigation strategies that range from physical environment preparation to digital firewalls. Furthermore, disastrous simulations and drills expose areas of vulnerability and create an opportunity for improvement.

Preparedness:

Miguel De Cervantes wrote, “To be prepared is half the victory.” Preparation means thinking ahead to be ready for disasters that have not yet occurred. TechTarget highlights 12 Key Elements of a Crisis Management Plan to guide organizations in ensuring that they address all parts of an organization that stand to be affected by disasters. Preparedness guarantees direction in the case of an emergency and highlights and optimizes the resources that are available.

The preparedness cycle involves:
  • Developing awareness of potential emergencies
  • Formulating corresponding plans
  • Organizing and equipping personnel, infrastructure, and digital systems with the necessary security
  • Training personnel on how to respond during each step of the plan
  • Exercising the plan for observation
  • Evaluating for improvement

Different departments will have different response tactics, so it is quintessential that plans fit their functions.

Response:

Response is the level of efficiency with which prevention and preparedness structures are pursued. It encompasses best practices to be carried out in reaction to crises. This phase occurs during and after an emergency has taken place and is the actioning of all the preparations previously developed for such an occasion. Response requires rapid implementation for recovery to take place in a timely manner.

Recovery:

The final phase of the four sums up the purpose of disaster management frameworks: To recover from crises with resilience and resume day-to-day operations. After the damage has been analyzed, best practices for steps forward can be determined for the process of recovery to begin and in order to resume business continuity.

In Conclusion

Disaster management measures exist to ensure the safety and recuperation of organizations, their systems, their clients and customers, and all personnel that is a part of and stand to be affected by disasters. This greatly diminishes the sustainable impact. An emergency plan is a form of insurance that protects disaster victims from the unforeseen circumstances that individuals, businesses, organizations, and communities fall victim to daily.

FAQs:

How Does an Organization Know Which Disasters to Prepare for?

It is important to assess both historical and potential damages which have previously and may potentially befall the organization itself, its industry, its systems, society, and the community in order to understand what possible disasters they are susceptible to.  To determine the disaster risk, the organization must determine the likelihood of loss of life, injury, or destruction and damage from a disaster in a given period of time.

What Is Disaster Risk?

According to PreventionWeb, disaster risk results from the complex interaction between development processes that generate conditions of exposure, vulnerability, and hazard. Disaster risk is therefore considered as the combination of the severity and frequency of a hazard, the numbers of people and assets exposed to the hazard, and their vulnerability to damage. Intensive risk is disaster risk associated with low-probability, high-impact events, whereas extensive risk is associated with high-probability, low-impact events.

How Do We Determine If Our Risk Management Efforts Are Effective Without the Presence of Real-life Threats?

As previously mentioned, simulations of threats and drills allow organizations to spot areas of weakness. For instance, a disaster management plan such as one for cybersecurity could be tested by a number of threats such as malware, phishing, SQL injection, password attacks, and more. If the security is violated, methods to strengthen it can be sought.

About Sangfor Technologies

Sangfor Technologies is an APAC-based, global leading vendor of Cyber SecurityCloud Computing, and Network Infrastructure solutions. To find out more about Sangfor’s full range of offerings, please visit us at www.sangfor.com, and let Sangfor make your digital transformation simpler and secure.


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