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May 28, 2003--In this issue:
- Implementing Your Disaster-Recovery Plan
- Get the eBook that Will Help You Get Certified!
- Couldn't Make the Microsoft Mobility Tour Event?
- Tip: Disabling DNS Zone Transfers
- Hot Thread: Monitoring Internet Use
4. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Free Device Discovery and Port Scanning
5. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us
(contributed by Alan Sugano, firstname.lastname@example.org)
* IMPLEMENTING YOUR DISASTER-RECOVERY PLAN
In my last column ( http://www.winnetmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleID=39093 ), I explained how to devise a disaster-recovery plan to help you prepare for the worst-case scenario. Now, let's imagine that scenario has occurred. What should you do when disaster strikes? Most important, don't panic. Remember: You have tested and prepared for this possibility. You've appointed a disaster-recovery administrator whose most immediate responsibility is damage assessment. The disaster-recovery administrator should determine the severity of the situation and notify the appropriate people. I assign different levels to help me assess problems:
- A Level 1 event might result in downtime of 4 hours or less. Your offices remain open and available, the problem affects three or fewer people, and the business impact is low. An example of a Level 1 event is a workstation that fails because of a bad motherboard or hard disk.
- A Level 2 event might result in downtime of 24 hours or less.
Your offices remain open and available, the problem affects 4 to 10 people, and the business impact is low. A server failure might constitute a Level 2 event.
- A Level 3 event might result in downtime of 72 hours or less. Your offices are unavailable, the problem affects 10 or more people, and the business impact is moderate. An extended power outage or a flood might constitute a Level 3 event.
- A Level 4 event might result in downtime for more than 72 hours. Your offices are unavailable, the problem affects 10 or more people, and the business impact is high. Examples of Level 4 events include earthquakes or terrorist attacks.
To help the disaster-recovery administrator evaluate the disaster level, create a checklist of all the services that your company requires, from the most important to the least important. These services might include utilities (e.g., power, water, sanitation, gas, telephone, Internet, WAN service), payroll, banking, computer support, legal, mail, and transportation services. To get this list started, look at the bills your organization receives every month. Cell phone service is particularly important. After the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, CA, cell phone service was one the few lines of communication that remained open. You might want to provide cell phones for all your company's key contacts. Don't forget the mobile chargers for the car and extra batteries.
After assessing the damage, the disaster-recovery administrator should notify the appropriate people within your organization of the level of the disaster, the status of utilities and services with estimated downtimes, and the status of coworkers. In the event of a Level 3 or Level 4 disaster, this administrator should also inform key contacts about a plan of action for the ensuing few days. If you work for a large company, you might want to develop a phone tree to disseminate this information to the rest of your staff. Another way to spread the word is to establish a private Web page (hosted off site with a secure logon) to share information about the status of the disaster and recovery.
If your building isn't available, arrange for a temporary place for the company to operate from. You might want to reserve alternate office space as part of your contingency plan. Either way, have a plan in place for moving coworkers to an offsite location and getting them set up quickly.
If any items are destroyed, consult the inventory list you created and order replacement equipment. Your insurance policy probably covers your office equipment, but you might want to ask about reimbursement if you hope to order equipment before claims adjusters complete their work. Immediately after a major disaster, you might have trouble finding equipment and supplies, so consider establishing preexisting agreements with computer vendors to reserve important equipment. Another option is to contract with a computer rental company to rent the equipment you require. To reduce the equipment availability cost, some companies are working with computer rental companies to prepurchase key components (e.g., servers, routers, firewalls, switches, tape drives) and share the costs with other similarly sized companies in different locations. If you have to move into a temporary space, you might also consider purchasing laptops with wireless connections because they'll be easy to set up and manage. In the event of a major disaster, equipment availability can be a significant problem.
The next step will be to locate the latest tape backup and restore your data. Consider using software that lets you boot from a CD-ROM and perform a restore without having to load the OS and backup software first. (This solution typically requires that your new server has identical or nearly identical hardware as your old server, and some old hardware might not be available. Because of this limitation, be sure to keep the OS CD-ROMs and the backup software in a safe location. You might need them to restore the data to the new server.) Use your application priority checklist to determine which applications to restore first. Be sure to keep at least one tape off site. After the Northridge earthquake, many buildings were deemed structurally unsafe and entry was prohibited. You certainly don't want to have a perfectly good backup tape stored in a building that you can't get into!
These steps are the just the start of what you must do to fully recovery from a catastrophic event. You must tailor any recovery plan to your organization's needs. Use this article and my earlier one as an outline to help you develop your organization's response to disaster.
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* GET THE EBOOK THAT WILL HELP YOU GET CERTIFIED!
The "Insider's Guide to IT Certification," from the Windows & .NET Magazine Network, has one goal: to help you save time and money on your quest for certification. Find out how to choose the best study guides, save hundreds of dollars, and be successful as an IT professional. The amount of time you spend reading this book will be more than made up by the time you save preparing for your certification exams. Order your copy today!
* COULDN'T MAKE THE MICROSOFT MOBILITY TOUR EVENT?
If you were too busy to catch our Microsoft Mobility Tour event in person, now you can view the Webcast archives for free! You'll learn more about the available solutions for PC and mobile devices and discover where the mobility marketplace is headed.
(contributed by Alan Sugano, email@example.com)
* TIP: DISABLING DNS ZONE TRANSFERS
By default, Windows 2000 Server permits DNS zone transfers to any server, a feature that might let a hacker transfer your DNS zone to another server and gain valuable information about your network. Consider turning off zone transfers or specifying eligible servers. From the DNS manager, select your server, click Forward Lookup Zones, right-click your domain, then select Properties. Select the Zone Transfers tab, then clear the Allow Zone Transfers check box to disable zone transfers. You can also select the "Only to the following servers" check box and enter the servers that you authorize for DNS zone transfers.
* HOT THREAD: MONITORING INTERNET USE
In this thread, one member asks about how best to monitor employee Internet surfing. See the ensuing discussion for several suggestions.
(contributed by Jason Bovberg, firstname.lastname@example.org)
* FREE DEVICE DISCOVERY AND PORT SCANNING
Ecora announced NetExplorer, a free device-discovery and port-scanning utility. You simply specify an IP range, and NetExplorer discovers all connected devices and scans for port usage to assess vulnerabilities associated with rogue devices and unauthorized open ports. You can combine NetExplorer with Ecora's Total Configuration Management (TCM) suite to enable an automated approach to securing your IT infrastructure. To download NetExplorer, go to the following URL:
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