Business Continuity – How to Avoid Disaster in 6 Steps

how to avoid disaster 6 steps to business continuity 1

Robert Burns was correct when he wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” As much as every business owner wants to (and should) plan for success, at the same time they should also understand their ability to continually thrive may very well depend on surviving an unexpected crisis. Businesses that create a business continuity plan will likely be able to meet the rare but tough challenges to thrive beyond a disaster.

What If?

A positive thing about considering “what if”, is that brainstorming about the worst that can happen provides immense value in helping business owners prepare beforehand to meet a potential challenge. If you are a business owner, consider how prepared your company will be if ever faced with one of these unexpected crises:

  • Physical Damage – What if a natural disaster occurs such as a flood, fire, or an extensive power outage that results in physical damage to company building(s), equipment, inventory, etc.? Is your business prepared if such an event occurs?
  • A Lost Resource – Vital resources are not always physical. Sometimes a business might rely very heavily on a supplier or a key employee that makes a valuable contribution to the company. If one of your suppliers goes bankrupt or a valued employee decides to leave, is your company prepared for that?
  • Crime – Depending upon the type of business, a company could become a crime victim through theft of a physical asset, a virtual loss of data, or theft of intellectual property. Do you have a plan in place if your delivery truck is stolen or a hacker is holding your data for ransom?
  • Data Loss – Data loss can occur in a variety of ways. Online data thieves and hackers are always looking for companies to exploit. Poorly trained employees may make an error that results in a significant loss of data, or perhaps a disgruntled employee sabotages the company before they leave. Regardless of the reason for the loss, most companies would be significantly hampered by a loss of corporate data. 
  • Equipment Failure – Sometimes equipment fails as part of a natural disaster. Perhaps a fire or flood has destroyed a company’s telecom systems, core IT equipment, or perhaps an owner was neglectful in replacing old, outdated equipment in a timely manner. 
  • Lost Access – Sometimes an external resource has its own data breach which wreaks havoc on your ability to do business. Perhaps a bank account or credit card is frozen due to suspected fraud by a third party, or a fired employee removes the ability for employees to access corporate software systems. As a business owner, are you prepared for such events?

Preparing a Plan

No business needs to fall victim to an unexpected disaster. Avoiding a crisis is within reach of every company willing to prepare a plan for potential disaster. An ideal way to start preparing is by employing a six-step process designed to tackle every catastrophic challenge. The first step begins with an analysis of a company’s vulnerabilities and risks. The second step involves assessing one’s current state of readiness, along with identifying weak areas. Step three consists of constructing a plan designed to thoroughly cover every area of a business with regard to each potential crisis.

It should come as no surprise since communication is so important, that step four consists of communicating the plan to the entire team so everyone is thoroughly trained on how to respond to a disaster. Step five includes regular monitoring and updating of “the plan” since over time most businesses naturally change and evolve. Lastly, step six involves bringing a fresh perspective to the table by employing external help. A new perspective that can help fill in the gaps by providing an additional level of expertise.

If you would like to know more about how to ensure your business survives and thrives beyond every potential crisis, please contact us.

5 Reasons Your Organization Needs a Data Replication Solution

5 reasons your organization needs a data replication solution
Your Organization

In the past, companies had only data backups to rely upon in the case of a natural disaster, a data breach, or a system failure. Whether they wanted to or not, they had no other choice but to wait hours — days in some cases, for their system to be up and running again. They likely lost at least some of the data entered in after their last full backup, with no other choice but to manually re-enter the data back into their system.

Today, even smaller companies have another option available to them — a data replication solution, which is turning out to be a game changer for many businesses after a data loss. In this article, we will outline 5 reasons why a business should carefully consider whether a data replication solution is right for them. 

1. Downtime – A Thing of the Past

If your organization would become seriously crippled by a downtime period of several days, or perhaps even just one day, taking advantage of a data replication solution may be the right thing for your organization. If having your system available is absolutely necessary to your bottom line, then you simply cannot afford even short periods of downtime.

2. Recover Almost Instantaneously  

With a data replication solution, a real-time image of current (and past) data can be recovered almost instantaneously. When configured correctly, data replication can occur within seconds, with hardly any noticeable downtime for users.

3. Streamlined Backups

A data replication solution means an instant backup is continually performed, and available at a moment’s notice. In the event of a disaster, knowing you have a readily available, complete backup without all the restoration hassles typically associated with more traditional backups, is very reassuring.

4. Reduce Costs 

Consider the costs incurred if your business goes down for a few days, or in some cases, even one day or a few hours. With data replication solutions becoming very affordable for even small businesses, it is becoming more and more cost effective for companies to incorporate data replication into their IT plan.

5. Greater Accuracy

Anyone who has ever had to reconstruct and re-enter data after a system failure is likely to tell you that the process is painstaking, time-consuming, and difficult. With a replication solution, there is no data to reconstruct or re-enter. A complete and accurate data set is ready for immediate access.

If you would like to know more about what data replication can do for your organization, please contact us.

Cloud Computing – The Future of Disaster Recovery

cloud computing the future of disaster recovery
Cloud Computing

Disasters happen. Whether they be natural or man-made – hurricanes that flood your company’s headquarters or viruses that contaminate your IT department’s servers – the consequences can be devastating.

Studies have shown that 43% of companies that cannot retrieve their data due to a disaster strike never reopen and that 29% of these companies close within two years.

How can your business protect itself in the face of these inevitable calamities? Look to the clouds! Cloud computing offers cost-effective solutions to help your business recover lost data and resume normal operations effectively and efficiently.

Despite its lofty nomenclature, cloud computing is really a down-to-earth concept. In simple terms, cloud computing means relying on the Internet – rather than on hardware – to store the information and programs that are vital to your business. This system allows you to access integral data remotely – an especially handy benefit if, say, your hard drives are corrupted.

Cloud computing, therefore, is essential to disaster recovery. A cloud-based system allows you to make a virtual copy of your company’s server – including the operating system, data, software, and other information contained therein. Because it stores this virtual copy on the Internet, no hardware is required. And if no hardware is required, none can be compromised.

When it comes to disaster recovery, cloud computing can save your business more than just time and money – it can flat out save your business. Even if your headquarters had been located in Pompeii on the day that Vesuvius erupted, cloud computing would have made it possible for you to restart your business (hopefully in a volcano-free zone) with a minimal outlay of money, time, and effort.

Disasters happen. But when they do, cloud computing allows your business to look to the sky and keep its feet on the ground.

Have You Tested Your Disaster Recovery Plan?

have you tested your disaster recovery plan
disaster recovery

recent article from Forbes that’s well-worth reading lists five major ways businesses perform poorly on IT disaster recovery.

Second on the list is the failure to test disaster recovery plans.

Why is Testing Necessary?

Without testing the disaster recovery measures you’ve come up with for your computer systems, your plan remains mostly theoretical. On paper, it looks as if it could work, but you can’t know with a reasonable degree of certainty. You’re not sure if your disaster recovery solutions will truly provide you with protection from lost data and give you the ability to minimize downtime. Your employees may not know what they’re supposed to do; without testing, the tasks they’re assigned to undertake could remain abstract to them.

Testing also helps you catch unforeseen difficulties or situations you didn’t expect. For instance, maybe your plan hasn’t anticipated a lack of reliable communication channels between employees in the aftermath of a disaster. You don’t want to get caught unprepared.

What are Some Good Practices for Running Tests?

Whenever your IT or business environment undergoes notable changes, it’s a good idea to run a test. For example, if you switch to new kinds of software, upgrade your hardware, or add new devices to your network, it’s important to determine how these changes will affect your disaster recovery plan.

Granted, it’s not possible to frequently run full-scale tests on your entire system. You may wind up implementing changes to your IT set-up and not get a chance to conduct a full test until weeks or months later. However, even if you can’t always run a full-scale test, there are other options. You can conduct partial tests that don’t involve your entire system; you can look at specific issues, such as whether certain critical data backups are complete and timely. You’re also encouraged to use monitoring apps that pinpoint areas of vulnerability as your system changes.

For further advice and assistance, please contact us. We will work with you not only to come up with a powerful disaster recovery plan, but also to check that it will truly support your company when you need it.

Learn From These 8 Major Companies Why an IT Recovery Plan is Essential

learn from these 8 major companies why an it recovery plan is essential
IT Recovery Plan

If you follow the news at all, you are probably well aware many big companies have experienced some major issues with cyber attacks in the last few years. And if you own a small to medium business, you can look at these circumstances and realize anyone is unnervingly close to the unthinkable—a cyber attack that compromises valuable data.

In a recent article by Stephan Buys, Buys compiles a list of some of these corporations so we can learn from their situations and have an IT recovery plan in place for our own businesses.

  1. Blue Cross Blue Shield: This medical insurance company recently suffered from cyber attacks that compromised private information of over 1 million customers. Although social security numbers and financial information stayed safe, hackers still got names, dates of birth, other account information.
  2. Sony: Just a few years ago, hackers got into the Sony database and stole email addresses of employees and movies that hadn’t been released yet. The damages included millions of dollars of losses and the resignation of the CEO at the time. The rumor, largely believed to be true, is that North Korea orchestrated the hack to prevent the release of the movie, The Interpreter.
  3. Target: Surely you remember the security breach of Target in 2013. Over 100 million customers had their personal information stolen. Because they didn’t have any IT recovery plan in place, the attack continued for several weeks.
  4. Chase/JP Morgan: Close to 100 million individuals and millions of small businesses had information stolen from JP Morgan in 2014.  Addresses, names, and email addresses were among the information stolen.
  5. Yahoo!:  Just this past year, in the largest security breach to date, over 3 billion people had information stolen through a security breach at Yahoo! Little did many people realize, Fantasy, Flickr, and Tumblr are all branches of Yahoo! that were included in the breach.
  6. Equifax: Perhaps most unnerving of the recent cyber hacks was that of Equifax. This credit reporting company lost their reputation as a leader in the industry, their stock prices plummeted, and over 200,000 people had their credit card numbers stolen.
  7. Ashley Madison: This gossip-worthy hack had to potential to expose individuals using this website service to cheat on their spouses. While personal information was stolen, the bigger concern was the privacy of the clients.
  8. Home Depot: These hackers cleverly stole information from Home Depot during a 5 month span from self checkout lines. Fifty six million customers had their credit card numbers or email addresses stolen.

Clearly, no one can be completely safe from a cyber attack. That is why it is so essential to have an IT recovery plan in place. For more information, contact us at AE Technology Group today.