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Please note: on May 15, 2012, BS 25999-2 was replaced by international standard ISO 22301.
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A leading business continuity standard
BS 25999-2 is a British standard issued in 2007, which quickly became the main standard for business continuity management – although it is a British national standard, it is used in many other countries, and it is predicted that it will soon be accepted as an international (ISO 22301) standard.
Just like ISO 27001, ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other standards that define management systems, BS 25999-2 also defines a business continuity management system which contains the same four management phases: planning, implementing, reviewing and monitoring, and finally, improving. The point of these four phases is that the system is continually updated and improved in order to be usable when a disaster occurs. The following are some of the key procedures and documents required by BS 25999-2:
Human resources management
The standard states that it is essential to determine the necessary knowledge and skills, to identify the necessary training sessions, to conduct such training sessions, to check whether the required knowledge and skills have been achieved, and to keep records. BS 25999-2 also requires conducting awareness programs, and also communicating the importance of business continuity management to employees.
Business impact analysis and risk assessment
Business impact analysis deals with important activities in an organization, defines the maximum tolerated period of disruption, describes the interdependence of individual actions, determines which activities are critical, explores the existing arrangements with suppliers and outsourcing partners, and finally, sets the recovery time objective.
Risk assessment is carried out to establish which disasters and other disruptions in business operations may occur and what their consequences are, but also which vulnerabilities and threats can lead to such business disruptions. Based on such assessment, the organization determines how to reduce the probability of risk, and how it will be mitigated if it should occur.
Defining the business continuity strategy
A strategy refers to defining how an organization will recover in case of disaster. The strategy is determined on the basis of the results of risk assessment and business impact analysis, and usually involves alternative locations, data recovery options, recovery of human resources, communications, equipment, management of suppliers and outsourcing partners, etc.
Business continuity plan
The business continuity plan includes plans for incident response, activation procedures for the business continuity plan, and recovery plans for critical activities – they are all written based on the business continuity strategy.
An incident response plan must specify the manner of determining types of incidents, communication channels, types of response, responsibility, etc.
Recovery plans must specify roles and responsibilities, key steps for recovery, locations, resources to be used and where they are located, priorities, what actions to take when recovery is completed, etc.
Maintenance of plans and system; improvement
The standard stipulates the following:
BS 25999-2 requires the following documents:
The amount of documentation depends on the number of critical activities in an organization – an organization with a small number of critical activities will also have a small amount of documentation related to business impact analysis, risk assessment and business continuity plans, while the documentation of larger organizations will be much more extensive.
Other related standards
In addition to BS 25999-2, BS 25999-1 is an “auxiliary” standard, which provides more details on how to implement specific parts of BS 25999-2.
Other useful standards are ISO 27001, which places business continuity in a broader context of information security, and ISO 27005, which gives a detailed description of the risk assessment process.
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