Strengthening Business Continuity Is Urgent For Financial Services

strengthening business continuity is urgent for financial services

While most businesses handle at least some customer personally identifiable information on a daily basis, there is little more important than a client’s financial information which consists of what is likely a significant portion of their life savings. Firms that manage investment and savings accounts spend years cultivating relationships with their clients, with complete trust as one of the foundational pillars of these relationships. That’s why strengthening business continuity is so important for financial services organizations.

With data hacks on the rise, financial services organizations must do everything they can to ensure their client’s investments are safe and secure. This also means ensuring they are able to deliver continuous service such as deposits and withdrawals, and even simple account review 24/7/365. Financial services firms must also protect against identity theft and/or impersonation, which can even be more devastating to clients as these types of crimes affect not only their investments, but almost every other aspect of their daily life.

Business Continuity Defined  

In order to understand business continuity, it’s important to define it as it relates to data and information systems. In order for a firm to have continuity of services, they must have a complete solution, not just a plan for backup, but also recovery in the event of a disaster. This means client data is protected both on-premise and in the cloud in order to keep data safe and secure, even in the event of a device failure.

Do Your Backups Measure Up?

Companies still working under the impression that a daily back-up of all corporate data is sufficient, are at high risk for significant problems. This traditional way of viewing backups overlooks many gaps including instances such as when those in charge forget to perform a backup or the process fails in some way. Other potentially disastrous scenarios include losing an entire day’s worth of work after a failure and/or lack of backup validation, which is then discovered to be useless when needed for a restoration.

Other issues can occur from only keeping backups on-site, which means if a disaster such as a tornado, flood, or fire should occur, the backups become useless. Incomplete backups that only include raw data, rather than including other crucial data such as server configuration and application files means it could take several days to get fully back online in the event of a system failure. 

Finding the Optimal Solution

At this point, smaller financial services organizations may recognize they simply do not have the IT resources to implement the right protective strategies to safeguard their clients from irreparable financial harm. Fortunately, there is still a way to fully protect clients and their investments in the event of a disaster, whether natural or manmade. 

For smaller financial organizations, the ideal solution is to outsource their IT needs to a company that also has experience in the financial industry. By partnering with such a firm, smaller companies can be confident they are doing everything they can to protect not only all the valuable assets and information pertaining to their clients, but every online function related to operating their firm. 

An IT firm specializing in the financial industry can handle all compliance and regulatory issues that go along with protecting client data, as well as offering their expertise in the areas of timely hardware and software updates and maintenance, and ensuring the integrity of backups and their restoration process in the event that action becomes necessary. A specialized IT firm can also establish and provide continuous review and maintenance of system security practices within the financial firm. With a firm that specializes both in the IT and financial industries, financial services firms can have the best of both worlds and know they are doing everything they can to maintain the assets and the trust of their clients for decades to come.    

If you are a financial services firm and are ready to update your data backup strategy to industry standards, please contact us.

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.

Disaster Recovery Vs Business Continuity: Are They The Same?

disaster recovery vs business continuity are they the same

Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) are often thought of as pretty much the same thing, but in reality there are significant differences between the two. Both are key elements of a company’s ability to continue functioning after an emergency.

Yet it’s possible for a business to have in place an effective disaster recovery plan, but still find itself unable to resume operations after a disruption because business continuity issues were not adequately addressed.

Disaster Recovery Vs Business Continuity

How Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Differ

The key difference between disaster recovery and business continuity is in the scope each covers. There is, of course, some overlap. But the focus of DR is more on reestablishing an organization’s IT functionality, while BC aims at insuring that the company can resume carrying out its actual business operations as soon as possible after a disruption.

A disaster recovery plan (DRP) will be concerned with issues such as how and where the company’s critical data is backed up, and how soon and completely that data can be recovered after some kind of outtage. What happens if, for example, the company’s data center burns down? A good DRP will specify off-site backup locations for data, how it will be recovered, and how alternate servers, networks, and other equipment will be brought online as soon as possible.

A business continuity plan (BCP), on the other hand, will not only encompass all the areas addressed in the DRP, but it will also focus on issues such as specifying how and by whom essential business functions will be carried out. For example, who will be the company’s authorized point of contact for both internal and external communications? Where will employees gather if the organization’s main site is no longer usable? What are the steps each business unit or staff team must take to ensure its own operations are reestablished quickly and effectively?

Disaster Recover and Business Continuity Go Together!

In effect, disaster recovery is an integral part, but only a part, of business continuity. A business’s IT department may have a great disaster recovery plan in place, but if the organization’s executive management doesn’t put an equal focus on business continuity planning that encompasses all aspects of the company’s operations, the company may well join the 80 percent of businesses that fail within 18 months of experiencing a major disruption.

If you’d like to know more about how to make sure your company has a good plan in place not only for disaster recovery, but for ensuring that your entire business can quickly and effectively resume operations after disaster strikes, please contact us.