ISO 27031: IT disaster recovery and business continuity

ISO 27031 is a standard for IT disaster recovery. It's an international standard that specifies how to plan, implement, and maintain disaster recovery systems. The purpose of ISO 27031 is to help organisations ensure that their business continuity plans are able to deal with any type of disaster. The standard also helps companies develop a consistent approach to planning and implementing their disaster recovery plans.

In this article, let’s take a closer look at ISO 27031 and its components, along with why your organisation may need to implement the standard.

ISO 27031 terms and definitions

Before we dive into the full details of ISO 27031, there are some key terms and definitions that you should be aware of to understand the full extent of ISO 27031.



Information Technology (IT)

An industry in itself which employs the use of computers, elaborate networks, computer software, and other digital or electronic devices for managing and communicating information.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The use of computers and other digital technologies to aid individuals or institutions in handling or using information.

ICT Readiness for Business Continuity (IRBC)

The capability of an organisation to support its business operations by prevention, detection and response to disruption and recovery of ICT services.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

A repetitive four-stage model for continuous improvement in business process management.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Predicts the consequences of disruption of a business function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies.

ISO 22301

A proposed standard that specifies security requirements for disaster recovery preparedness and business continuity management systems.

Business Continuity Management System (BCMS)

A framework for identifying an organisation's risk of exposure to internal and external threats.

Recovery Time Objective (RTO)

The goal your organisation sets for the maximum length of time it should take to restore normal operations following an outage or data loss.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

The maximum amount of data – as measured by time – that can be lost after a recovery from a disaster, failure, or comparable event before data loss exceeds what is acceptable to your organisation.


What is ISO 27031?

A management systems approach to ICT in support of a business continuity management system, as stated in ISO 22301, is introduced in ISO 27031. This system is known as an ICT readiness for business continuity (IRBC) management system.

An IRBC is a management system designed for use in the event of an IT disaster. Similar to the business continuity management system outlined in ISO 22301, IRBC employs a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. The goal of IRBC is to put into action measures that improve preparedness for and speed in the aftermath of an interruption in ICT services.

The PDCA paradigm is highly recognisable to those in the business continuity and IT fields, but it requires some minor adjustments to better support the recoverability of ICT in accordance with what businesses need and anticipate.

Although organisations cannot be certified in ISO 27031 like they can in ISO 22301, the management system follows many of the same procedures that experienced preparation experts are used to adopting with business continuity planning.

To further enhance your organization's information security management, consider ISO 27001 Certification. Learn more about our certification services.


More on IRBC management systems

ISO 27031 is based on the ISO 22301 PDCA management system but is tailored to the more technical aspects of IRBC. ISO 27031 depends on the results of the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) performed and accepted as part of the larger BCMS for an organisation, in addition to the technical adjustments to PDCA. The PDCA management system at IRBC is summarised as follows:

  • Plan — In the first stage, the IRBC management system's overarching governance structure is established and maintained. As a result of the work conducted in the Plan phase, the company will have an IRBC policy and many potential IT strategy solutions to choose from to fulfil the business's needs.
  • Do — In this phase, employees carry out the tasks and put in place the solutions that will allow the company to keep an eye out for and get back up and running after an interruption in ICT services. When it comes to ensuring the reliability of ICT services, the Do phase's primary outcomes are the actualisation of said strategies, the development of said plans, and the carrying out of said training and awareness efforts.
  • Check — Review and analysis of the IRBC management system's output are part of the Check step. Key deliverables from the Check phase include regular inspections of ICT responsiveness and recoverability and ongoing monitoring of ICT for disruptions and performance levels.
  • Act — In the Act phase, leadership may assess how effectively the IRBC initiative is working and order remedial measures to be taken to improve the management system's effectiveness and/or lessen the likelihood of future interruptions to ICT services.

Why do you need ISO 27031?

ICT is widely used among organisations that rely heavily on it to perform critical business functions. Some of the activities that ICT supports are incident management, business continuity, disaster recovery and emergency management. The importance of ISO 27031 is that it sets guidelines to implement these activities as a part of your organisation's continuity plan.

It ensures that your organisation's ICT, personnel, and processes are ready to handle unforeseeable events that could change the risk environment and endanger the business.

With the implementation of ISO 27031, you can leverage and streamline resources among business continuity, emergency response, security incident handling and disaster recovery.


What are the core elements of ISO 27031?

ISO 27031 specifies that the IRBC plans need six components to effectively monitor for, respond to, and recover from interruptions to information and communication technologies.

These six factors are:

  • Skills

In the event of a disruption, it will be necessary to resume providing ICT services; therefore, recovery plans must consider this. When planning for the operation of an organisation's information and communication technology (ICT), it is important to account for the fact that no single employee may possess all of the necessary expertise.

  • Facilities

Preventing the loss that might occur from running information and communication technology (ICT) systems out of a single location is an important part of any recovery strategy.

Planned facility considerations guarantee that information and communication technology (ICT) systems can continue to function in the event of a primary facility failure.

  • Technologies

When developing a recovery plan, it is important to take into account the technical specifications necessary to achieve the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and the Recovery Point Objective set by the company (RPO).

When planning a strategy, it's important to factor in the time and resources needed to restore gear and software to working order. Power, cooling, staffing, vendor support, and wide-area network connection are all essential factors to think about.

  • Data

When planning for recovery, it's important to think about how to safeguard the crucial information your company relies on. Strategies that take data into account guarantee that consumers can access, use, and trust the information they need.

  • Processes

Planning for the ongoing activities required to monitor, manage, and recover ICT systems in order to satisfy business needs is an integral part of any effective recovery strategy. Strategies that take processes into account determine the IT operations that must be performed before, during, and after an outage.

  • Suppliers

Recovering and running ICT systems requires a number of third-party suppliers, all of whom must be kept in the loop during the recovery process. Strategies that consider suppliers determine whether companies help maintain and restore ICT systems before, during, and after a disruption.

While ISO 27031 provides a robust framework for IT disaster recovery, it's important to understand its relationship with ISO 27001, another crucial standard in the ISO 27000 family.

If you are interested in learning more about other information security standards, check out our article on ISO 27001.

The connection between ISO 27001 and ISO 27031

While ISO 27001 and ISO 27031 are separate standards within the ISO 27000 family, they are closely related and often implemented together to create a comprehensive information security management system.

ISO 27001 is the international standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). It provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an ISMS within the context of the organization. This includes aspects like risk management, internal audits, continual improvement, and compliance with legal and other requirements.

On the other hand, ISO 27031 focuses on the guidelines for information and communication technology readiness for business continuity. It provides a detailed framework for ensuring an organization's IT systems can survive and recover from disruptive incidents. Furthermore, by adhering to the principles of ISO 27001, organizations are also better positioned to meet the evolving cybersecurity standards of NIS2.

In essence, ISO 27001 provides the overarching framework for an organization's information security management, while ISO 27031 provides specific guidance on how to ensure business continuity in the face of IT disruptions.

Together, these standards form a comprehensive approach to information security. ISO 27001 manages information security risks, while ISO 27031 ensures swift recovery and resumption of operations post-IT disruption.

Implementing both standards can bolster information security management and IT disaster recovery, safeguarding valuable information and ensuring business continuity.


What are the benefits of having an IT disaster recovery plan?

IT disasters impact organisations the most when no preparations have been made to deal with them. The ensuing chaos has far-reaching consequences for organisations that extend well beyond the time it takes to restore operations. Last-minute repairs may be expensive, data breaches can result in fines, and disasters can damage your company's brand and productivity in a variety of ways.

Therefore, having a solid plan to curb the effect of disaster is essential to every organisation.

Here are a few benefits of implementing an IT disaster recovery plan:

  • Builds confidence among your customers — When you implement IT disaster recovery, you're making sure that your business is well-positioned to recover from an outage in a timely and effective manner. This makes it easier for your customers to trust their business with you, which boosts brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
  • Helps mitigate your financial risks — By shortening the time it takes to restore organisation information systems, you may limit losses not only in terms of income but also in other areas, such as the cost of potential harm caused by downtime and the expense of management or technical help.
  • Minimise the interruption to critical processes — To ensure the organisation’s survival there are essential operations that must run continuously. By having a Disaster Recovery solution in place, critical procedures can be safeguarded, and interruptions to operations may be kept to a minimum.
  • Increased productivity — The danger to your data may be minimised by making sure your staff understand their parts in data security and have a plan in place for dealing with attacks. More than that, it will boost productivity in every area. Since employees know what to do in the event of a crisis, they will be less likely to go into a state of panic, which is one of the many benefits of having a disaster recovery plan. Instead, the crisis can be dealt with in a controlled environment.



ISO 27031 provides guidance for an IRBC programme that helps IT and business continuity experts keep their ICT systems resilient. Organisations would better prepare for, respond to, and recover from an information and communication technology outage. ICT and business continuity are both vulnerable to interruptions. However, ISO 27031 utilises and modifies the BCM ideas established in ISO 22301 to help mitigate this risk.

Ready to improve your organisation's resilience against IT disruptions and enhance your information security? Find out how the DataGuard ISO 27001 certification solution can strengthen your strategies and guarantee business continuity. Our experts are on hand to provide expert insights and bespoke solutions.

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