Business Continuity Plan

SOC 2 Criteria: CC5.3, CC7.5

ISO 27001 Annex A: A.17.1.1, A.17.1.2

Keywords: BIA, Status Page, Worksite Recovery

Bramble, by its remote-only nature, is not easily affected by typical causes of business disruption, such as local failures of equipment, power supplies, telecommunications, social unrest, terrorist attacks, fire, or natural disasters.

Purpose

This policy establishes procedures to recover Bramble following a disruption in conjunction with the Disaster Recovery Plan.

Policy

Bramble policy requires that:

  • A plan and process for business continuity, including the backup and recovery of systems and data, must be defined and documented.
  • The Business Continuity Plan shall be simulated and tested at least once a year. Metrics shall be measured and identified recovery enhancements shall be filed to improve the process.
  • Security controls and requirements must be maintained during all Business Continuity Plan activities.

Roles and Responsibilities

This Policy is maintained by the Bramble Security Officer and Privacy Officer. All executive leadership shall be informed of any and all contingency events.

Line of Succession

The following order of succession ensures that decision-making authority for the Bramble Business Continuity Plan is uninterrupted. The CEO is responsible for ensuring the safety of personnel and the execution of procedures documented within this Plan. The CTO is responsible for the recovery of Bramble technical environments. If the CEO or CTO is unable to function as the overall authority or chooses to delegate this responsibility to a successor, the COO shall function as that authority or choose an alternative delegate. 

Response Teams and Responsibilities

The following teams have been developed and trained to respond to a contingency event affecting Bramble infrastructure and systems.

  1. DevOps is responsible for assuring all applications, web services, platforms, and their supporting infrastructure in the Cloud. The team is also responsible for testing re-deployments and assessing damage to the environment. The team leader is the CTO.
  2. Security Incident Response Team (SIRT) is responsible for assessing and responding to all cybersecurity related incidents according to Bramble Incident Response policy and procedures. The security team shall assist the above teams in recovery as needed in non-cybersecurity events. The team leader is the Security Officer.

Members of above teams must maintain local copies of the contact information of the Business Continuity Plan succession team. Additionally, the team leads must maintain a local copy of this policy in the event Internet access is not available during a disaster scenario.

All executive leadership shall be informed of any and all contingency events.

BCP for Remote Workers

In case of an all-remote company like Bramble, it is sufficient to have simple contingency plans in the form of service-level agreements with companies that host our data and services. The advantage of an all-remote workforce like Bramble is that if there are clusters of people or systems that are unavailable, the rest of the company will continue to operate normally.

The exception to this would be a scenario of a single point of failure, (for example, if one of the Engineering heads who should sign off on triggering the plan is unavailable due to a disaster). In this case we would need an alternate plan in place that covers how to get in contact with the person or people affected by the disaster and trigger this business continuity plan.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

RTO and RPO are two of the most important parameters of a Business Continuity Plan. These are objectives to guide Bramble Infrastructure team in choosing the optimal data backup plan. The RTO/RPO provides the basis for identifying and analyzing viable strategies for inclusion in the business continuity plan. Viable strategy options include any which would enable resumption of a business process in a time frame within the RPO/RTO.

What is a Recovery Point Objective?

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the interval of time that might pass during a disruption before the quantity of data lost during that period exceeds the Business Continuity Plan’s maximum allowable threshold.

What is a Recovery Time Objective?

The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the duration of time a service level or business process must be restored after a disaster, in order to avoid risks associated with a break in continuity.

What triggers the Business Continuity Plan

For a business continuity plan to be effective, it needs to be triggered as soon as possible; too early or late can reduce its efficacy. Key decision points to consider when a BCP has to be triggered or invoked are given below:

  • When an incident turns into an event like a disaster, breach, or something which is classified as a Severity 1
  • When the estimated time of resolution for a potential breach is greater than the normal estimated time for regular security incidents
  • When the recovery of an incident is uncertain, a decision must be made to invoke the business continuity plan if the disruption cannot be resolved within the specified incident recovery timelines
  • When resolution of an incident with critical customers, depending on their service-level agreements is delayed, then the BC plan must be triggered

Data Continuity System

This section provides details about the production environment that must be available for Brmbl.io to run effectively:

Brmbl.io deployments are hosted on AWS.

Priority::1: Outage would have immediate impact on Bramble customer/user operations

  1. Disruption of service of AWS, specifically the region in which key live Brmbl.io instances, and non-live instances e.g. dev.brmbl.io are hosted.
    • Effect: a loss or degradation of service, of AWS means that Brmbl.io is not available. This affects anyone who uses Brmbl.io for their operations, and may prevent Bramble team members from completing supporting work.
    • Solution(s): There are other AWS regions where Bramble could be redeployed in a short timeframe (measured in hours).
    • Effect: Releases are developed and staged on dev.brmbl.io before being brought to production on Brmbl.io; these may be lost or unavailable for the duration of the disruption.
    • Solution(s): Depending on the duration and nature of the disruption, the solution is to wait for service to be restored (minimal duration), or build a new staging server. Using IAC and DB snapshots, recovery from backup is relatively quick.
  2. Unavailability of support staff in case of a customer emergency.
    • Effect: emergency response times are greater than intended.
    • Solution(s): The team is distributed geographically (except during team get-togethers). Customer emergencies are handled by any person who is in the on-call rotation. The on-call load is distributed at many levels, service engineers, production engineers, and even developers can be summoned when we have an outage or a customer incident. Emergencies also trigger automatic notifications on our internal chat system, alerting the entire company. There is also an ongoing effort to publish our runbooks, explaining how we manage our infrastructure and how we deal with outage cases.
  3. Disruption of service of FreshDesk.
    • Effect: support workflows are disrupted. New tickets cannot be created, existing tickets cannot be responded to.
    • Solution(s): For the duration of the outage (if more than e.g. 4 hours) temporarily re-route incoming support requests to individual email accounts of members of the support team.

P2: Outage would have immediate impact on Bramble ability to continue business

Malicious Software attack and hacking or other Internet attacks.

  • Effect: depends on attack.
  • Solution(s): We log and track any access that happens on any server in the fleet using CloudWatch.

P3: Outage greater than 72 hours would have impact on Bramble ability to continue to do business

Disruption of service from Google Workspace or Hubspot.

  • No failover plan currently.

P4: Non critical system

Disruption of service from internal chat tool (Slack).

  • When Slack is down, team members can use Zoom Chat as outlined here.

Communication Plan and Role Assignments

When it comes to a disaster, communication is of the essence. A plan is essential because it puts all team-members on the same page and clearly outlines all communication. Documents should all have updated team-member contact information and team-members should understand exactly what their role is, in the days following the triggering of the BC plan. Assignments like setting up workstations, assessing damage, redirecting phones and other tasks will need assignments if you don’t have some sort of technical resource to help you sort through everything.

Each Bramble team should be trained and ready to deploy in the event of a disruptive situation requiring plan activation. The plan of action steps, procedures, and guidelines will be documented in their team runbooks page (currently under development) and should be available offline. This should have detailed steps on recovery capabilities, and instructions on how to return the system to normal operations.

Backup check

Make sure that backups are performed daily, and include running an additional full local backup on all servers and data in the Business Continuity preparation plan. Run them as far in advance as possible tp ensure that they’re backed up to a location that will not be impacted by the disaster. Alternate storage provisioning.

Distribute and Verify the Plan / Approval from Senior management

  • Bramble documentation related to all procedure and guidelines detailing the Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery must be reviewed, updated, and formally approved by Bramble leadership
  • After developing basic guidelines, this plan will be distributed as a work in progress to the core team
  • The core team will review to verify that all technical details are covered and deficiencies exist
  • The core team will review and add guidelines so that all related DRIs are clear on what is required in all situations
  • Bramble team members must be asked to confirm their current details, such as phone numbers and emergency contacts on an annual basis
  • Managers or team leads will share the relevant parts of the plan to all Bramble team members based on their role and department, and verify that they know what to do in the event of an emergency

Vendor communication and service restoration plan

A plan cannot be successful without restoring customer confidence. As a final step, ensure that there is a detailed vendor communication plan as part of the Business continuity preparation plan. This plan will check for all the systems and services to ensure normal operations have resumed as intended once the damage is repaired in the area. Also, include the section to check with the main service providers on restoration and access.

Application Service Event Recovery

Bramble maintains a status page to provide real time updates and inform customers of the status of each service. The status page is updated with details about an event that may cause service interruption / downtime. Bramble’s status page.

Business Continuity Test

After formalizing the business continuity plan, or BCP, the next important step is to test the plan. Testing verifies the effectiveness of the plan, trains plan participants on what to do in a real scenario, and identifies areas where the plan needs to be strengthened. A test of the plan review, has to be conducted at least annually.

Why Business continuity testing is important

  • To ensure that the current backup facilities and procedures are feasible and compatible to achieve the determined RTO. Can backup systems withstand a cyberattack.
  • To confirm that your continuity objectives are met (RTO and RPO). Accordingly provide training to the team managers and team members.
  • To evaluate the company’s response to various kinds of disruptive events
  • To test our Emergency communication strategy, is it functioning as expected and how quickly can everyone be informed about an incident.
  • To identify areas in the plan that need modification. Improve systems and processes based on test findings. And accordingly maintain and update the BC plan

Testing the plan

Testing can present a lot of challenges. It requires investing time and resources. With that in mind, to start with, it may make more sense to conduct a tabletop test, rather than involving the entire organization in a full-blown drill.

Also an initial “dry run” of the plan can be performed, by conducting a structured walk-through test of the approved BC plan. The initial testing is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions.

Subsequent tests can occur during normal business hours. An actual test-run can be performed eventually. Based on the gaps and weaknesses learnt from the testing, underlying problems should be corrected and the plan updated accordingly.

The various types of tests that can be conducted include: checklist tests, simulation tests, parallel tests, and full interruption tests. Not testing the plan, will put both the business and customer confidence at risk.

Business Continuity Plan Testing Scenarios

There are several types of tests, such as a plan review, a tabletop test, or a simulation test, which was detailed in the previous section. Some testing scenarios that can be performed, are given below:

  1. Data Loss/Breach
  • One of the most prevalent workplace disasters today. Cause of data loss or breach could be due to any of the following:
    • Ransomware and cyberattacks
    • Unintentionally erased files or folders
    • Server/drive crash
    • Datacenter outage
  • Data is mission-critical and losing it can have many serious consequences, such as significantly impacting sales and logistics applications.
  • The goal is to regain access to that data as soon as possible. Restoring backup is the solution. However, who’s responsible for that? What’s the communication plan in this case? What are the priorities? Who needs to be contacted right away? Are there any vendors involved? These and many other questions will be answered during this test.
  1. Data Recovery Testing
  • This testing scenario, is used to make sure that the backup and recovery systems work as intended. To prove that, run a test that involves losing a bulk of data, and then try to recover it.
  • Some of the elements to be evaluated include the RTO, and whether the team met its objectives.
  • Also make note of, if there were any damage to the files during recovery? Was the backup stored in the cloud, recovered successfully and on time.
  1. Emergency Communication
  • Being able to communicate during a disaster or an emergency is crucial. Yet, the most disruptive events can leave with no traditional means of staying in contact.
  • For these scenarios, the BC plan needs to outline the actions to be taken. An alternate mode of communication should be tested for its reliability and efficiency, for a company like Bramble which has team members all around the globe.
  • Regular updates to all Bramble team members contact information, so that all of them can receive timely notifications thus streamlining the disaster scenario process.

Business Impact Analysis

View BIA page.