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.

How to Defend Your Company Against Ransomware Attacks

how to defend your company against ransomware attacks

ransomware attacks

With ransomware attacks on the rise across the country, it is more important than ever that businesses do what they can to defend themselves against ransomware and other malicious software. The fact is that a ransomware attack can prove to be costly for your business, making prevention against an attack a vital step for any business. To help make sure that your company is prepared, here are a few of the steps you can take to prevent a ransomware attack.

Patch or Update Your Software

Updates to various software and programs can seem like they are neverending, which is why it is not uncommon for people to put off doing them. However, companies often release software updates in order to fix vulnerabilities in these programs, vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers looking to install ransomware on your computers. Keeping on top of these updates is then one of the most important things you can do to protect your business against an attack.

Train Your Staff on Internet Safety

When it comes to ransomware attacks your company’s staff is going to be your first line of defense. This makes it important that you train your staff on internet safety in order to ensure that they know what to do to avoid ransomware, malware, and viruses. Make sure that they know not to open emails from unknown/suspicious senders and that they only download files from trusted sources. Ensuring that your staff knows the proper precautions to take can help to prevent a ransomware attack.

Taking certain precautions can make you less vulnerable to ransomware. However, it is also important that you regularly backup your files so that you can restore your system should you come under a ransomware attack. Contact us to learn more about what you can do to protect your business against ransomware.

Choosing The Right Backup Systems For Computers: Five Considerations

choosing the right backup systems for computers five considerations

Strong backup systems for your computing devices are critical. Without backups, your business is much more likely to suffer costly permanent data loss and extended downtime; as a result, you’ll lose customers and struggle to recover after an IT disaster. Whether it’s equipment failure during a storm or a ransomware attack that denies you access to your files, your data is constantly vulnerable and requires regular, secure backups.

Backup Systems

How can you go about choosing the right backup system? Consider the following issues.

1) Volume

How much data do you need to back up? Even if you don’t seem to have a lot of data now, your business’s needs will likely change in the future as you continue generating data. Whatever backup solution you choose must be scalable.

2) Frequency

Some kinds of data, such as critical financial files and key project documents, will require frequent (or even continuous) backups, whereas with other data you may need to perform backups more rarely.

3) Retrievability and restoration times

If you’ve created a duplicate of your hard drive, how long will it take to restore it after an IT disaster? What about data you’ve backed up on the cloud, on various kinds of external drives, or on magnetic tape? The time it takes to retrieve and restore data will influence your decisions about which backup solutions to choose for different kinds of data.

4) Security

Your backup systems are a target for cyber criminals who seek copies of your sensitive data. How are you protecting these copies?

5) Oversight

You need to ensure that your backup systems are comprehensive and functioning properly. Due to errors and lack of forethought, your backups may turn out to be incomplete, leaving you vulnerable to permanent loss.

To receive advice about specific data backup systems, please contact us. The data backup system that works best for your computing devices will depend on your particular needs. We can help you ensure that your data backups are comprehensive, secure, and retrievable.

The 2 Types of Disaster Recovery Solutions You Need To Know

the 2 types of disaster recovery solutions you need to know

There are a couple of different ways to approach disaster recovery solutions. One involves planning a strategy on your own, while the other calls for a complete service. In addition, there are several ways you back up your data and some are better than others. We’ll go over all of this and more in this blog.

DIY

Do-it-yourself disaster recovery solutions are typically as bad as it sounds. The problem is that most businesses don’t have a thorough understanding of the practice. They might cover the data backup aspect, but forget other essential components. We don’t recommend DIY disaster recovery solutions.

DRaaS

Disaster recovery as a service puts your company’s future in the hands of professionals. Not only do they back up your data, but they make sure you’ll have access to it in the event of a disaster.

There are a couple considerations here. This Information Age article recommends using off-site data backup in case something happens to your building:

“In order to fully protect data, organisations should opt for a service provider that offers off-site secondary replication. This allows customers to reboot their systems even in the rare event that the primary storage has been irreparably damaged.”

If you use tape backup and your building gets flooded, then you’re out of luck. Cloud solutions take care of this problem.

Another consideration is to choose data centers away from your office. According to this Tech Target article, this is a lesson New York businesses learned from Hurricane Sandy:

“Hurricane Sandy had a massive 210-plus mile diameter. Folks with flooding data centers in New York City were rightfully concerned when they learned of water encroaching on their hot site or cloud DRaaS service provider in Philadelphia. Today, there is still a good chance that a modestly priced DRaaS provider is hosting your backup data within 50 miles of your facility. At that distance, both your original data and your backup could be at risk from a similar storm.”

A DRaaS provider takes care of every little aspect. This is their area of expertise, and it’s highly unlikely that a DIY strategy would hold its own in a comparison.

To talk more about disaster recovery solutions, or anything else, contact us today.