Many businesses are aware of the extreme costs of a cyber attack, but not as many are prepared for the drastic devastation a hurricane can ensue. Hurricanes are among the most damaging natural disasters, and with Florida’s hundreds of miles of shoreline, it’s essential for any Floridian business to prepare for hurricane season and beyond.
Last year, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an extremely active hurricane season for 2020, and they weren’t wrong. By early October, 25 storms had already hit with two months still remaining in the season. Matthew Rosencrans, of the NOAA, said this year would be no different with an updated forecast suggesting there would be 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes.
With the ever-increasing economic threat of climate change, it’s no wonder businesses are doing more to protect their data. The U.S. broke records last year with a total of $95 billion in damages due to weather and climate disasters, shattering all previous records. Is your business prepared to handle such circumstances if disaster hits your doors?
Thankfully, by taking active preventative measures such as employing data backup systems and infrastructure protection, you can minimize the risk your business has of falling to prey to one of these natural disasters not just through hurricane season, but every day of the year.
Security Takes on Different Forms
Hurricanes could potentially make your business lose its data, but so can security issues like ransomware, human error, a fire, or a bad event like the pandemic. That’s why it’s important to think about all the forms security can take and which ones are essential for your business’ protection.
Consider the Colonial Pipeline. Because of a phishing email, a multi-million dollar industry was brought to its knees. Ultimately, the Pipeline couldn’t restore their systems and were forced to shut everything down, catapulting a wave of national economic consequences that many are still reeling from. As a result, large companies like these could be facing severe correctional actions if they fail to maintain strong security protections.
So what can your business do in light of such circumstances? Be proactive and protect their data.
Take Advantage of Cloud Services
Cloud-based storage systems can provide data protection, even if your physical building is destroyed in the case of a hurricane, for example. Large-scale companies are advised to use Software as a Service (SaaS), such as Office 365, while smaller organizations have the advantage of obtaining such services for free. These online delivery services have become the default deployment method of global data. It allows businesses to access their systems wherever there’s an Internet connection, which provides much flexibility and mobility.
However, no matter the size of your business, Cloud services such as Office 365 can also be vulnerable to attack and need to be backed up. In truth, Microsoft guarantees that it won’t lose your data, but it makes no such assurances about recovering it for you. As such, your business should be prepared to have as many systems in place to protect your data.
Have Onsite and Offsite Backups
Having onsite and offsite backups helps build your tolerance for business continuity and your business can be back up and running much faster after a disaster.
First, protect your physical infrastructure as much as possible. In the case of a hurricane, all systems should be located on higher ground, well above anticipated flood levels. Also consider the need to disconnect from electricity, which will not be a problem if proper backups have been implemented. When using physical backups, it’s best to store them in multiple locations, so that if one area is hit, the data can easily be recovered in another place. Notice then how unplugging your backup drives and taking them home is not disaster recovery. When a disaster hits, you want to make sure that your physical infrastructure can handle the weight of the crisis. For that to happen, you want to make sure that your company’s backups are accessible and usable with all licenses up to date. Also be sure to test your backup systems on a regular basis. You don’t want to be in the middle of a crisis only to find out that your backup systems are not working properly.
Second, determine your recovery time objective (RTO) and your recovery point objective (RPO). Your business’ RTO is the amount of time it takes you to restore regular business processes after a natural disaster or emergency situation. Defining your RTO is essential as it will ensure you take the necessary steps to get your business up and running after a disaster. Your RPO—how far you are from your most updated data point in the event of a disaster—should be as a short as possible. Here is the importance of having offsite backups: Having access to a spare server provides a location to virtualize your server, giving you easy access to your data in the event that your physical servers’ infrastructure is damaged. In the event that your company fails to prevent data loss, you can retrieve your latest backup files. Note that the less frequent your backups, the more files will be missing. Setting a shorter RPO means that you will have access to your business’ latest files in the event of a hurricane or other catastrophic event. Most companies will backup their data anywhere from every 15 minutes to every 24 hours. When companies put off calculating their RTO and RPO, that’s when they find themselves in real trouble. In the event of a cyberattack for example, site outages can cost businesses $20K for every day of downtime with some organizations reporting nearly $100K in losses. While the company frantically tries to assess how much they’re losing in relation to how much time it will take them to return to normal business functions, depending on what exactly the company is trying to restore, it might be easier to pay the ransom—a trend that is unfortunately becoming more and more popular as cybercriminals become more technologically skilled and organized.
Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity
The best thing a company can do to protect their data, then, is to not only understand the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity, but to prioritize and implement these tactics accordingly.
While disaster recovery and business continuity sound similar, the terms are not interchangeable. Disaster recovery is the recovery of data or systems following a disaster. As discussed above, there are many advantages to using cloud services to backup your data, as well as updating and testing those systems on a regular basis, but letting professionals handle the bulk of data recovery is important, too. Not only can these experts help recover files that were lost when your company’s servers and other hardware were ruined in a disaster like a hurricane, but they also have the knowledge and expertise in handling crises such as these where you may not. You may try to recover a piece of data and unknowingly damage it further whereas a data recovery expert will know exactly how to manage the situation.
Disaster recovery is a key element to understand, but it is only one slice of a larger business continuity plan, something all businesses should have in place if they want to fully secure their data. The threat of not putting one in place is very real—many organizations without one saw the loss of customers and competitive advantage. With hurricane season upon us and cybercriminals lurking at every turn, your business cannot afford to be unprepared in the event of a disaster. A well thought-out business continuity plan is the answer.
A comprehensive business continuity plan will offer four key advantages: more complete, solution-based capabilities with faster response times; minimal to no downtime; unlimited data storage; and backups for various systems. These four advancements of a modern business continuity plan is just what any company needs if they are to survive a disaster of any kind. Without one, you leave the door open for your company to lose its data—an invaluable possession.
Data loss can be devastating. If you want to protect your business, understand the range of security your company can put in place to eliminate or at least limit data loss implications. Effective data security is all about preparing for the inevitable and identifying and mitigating risks.
Are you prepared?
For many businesses, it’s not a matter of if disaster will strike, but when. Contact us today to give your business the best chance of protecting and recovering your data.
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