Tag Archives: Business Continuity

How To Stay in Business with a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan

With technology growing by leaps and bounds, and regulations assigned to protect the data generated by this technology, you need a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place to determine how that data is collected, protected, analyzed and stored. Read on to find out how to protect your company from data loss and its consequences.

Why You Should Care About Data Protecting Your Data

According to COMPTIA, data protection will be a key trend in 2018 and beyond. Businesses will continue to generate large amounts of data; for some companies, regulations such as PCI, GDPR and HIPAA require protection of data and plans for business continuity in the face of potential data loss. Even without the need for compliance to regulations, businesses need access to their data even in the event of a natural disaster or a cyberattack.

How Much Downtime Can you Afford?

The average cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute. Not only that, but if your business is inaccessible during a flood, fire or other disaster, or simply a power outage, customers can lose confidence in the product or service you provide. Even more serious is the prospect of confidential data being lost or exposed. Having a plan in place can make the difference in whether your business stays in business.

What to Include in Your Plan

How much data can you afford to lose, and how long can you be without it? The best plan provides for storage and restoration of data during and after a disaster. How long can your systems be down before it affects profitability? How will you restore data that is lost? A robust plan is one that enables your company to retrieve lost data as quickly as possible. Data can be stored on-premise on a server, or in the cloud, or a combination of both. Once you have a plan in place, test it to make sure it works, and verify it periodically to make sure all your data is accessible.

Having a plan for business continuity can keep your business in business during a disaster and afterward. If you do not yet have a plan, or if you’re not sure the plan you do have is optimal, contact your trusted technology advisor today.

Disaster Recovery and Data Protection –Now More Than Ever

Disaster Recovery PlanRecent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, along with major earthquakes in Mexico, remind us how vulnerable we can be to disasters, and underscore the importance of data protection. As businesses depend on access to a range of systems–including call center, communications and collaboration application, customer management, and more–having a solid data protection plan can help you in a disaster recovery scenario. Now more than ever, a range of options exist to help maintain business continuity. Here are a few options to consider.

 

Review Your Data Protection Plan

Key to your data protection plan is identification of mission-critical systems. The most important systems should be redundant, with the ability for failover in the event of a disaster. Your data centers and failover options should be geographically dispersed and on different network backbones. This can minimize downtime and get you back up and running sooner. Having your data backup available in Cloud Storage can help you recover other important files and application data if you lose access to your on-premise systems.

SD-WAN for Business Continuity

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) can also provide you a highly reliable and redundant network. Having the ability to switch Wide Area Networks using SD-WAN as an alternative to more costly MPLS solutions can ensure connectivity during a natural disaster. What’s more, Software-Defined Wide Area Networking can save you money in the long run by giving you the flexibility of a multi-carrier solution.

Software as a Service for Disaster Recovery

More businesses are turning to the Cloud for a range of applications–hosted email, Voice over IP (VoIP), Call Center, and others–to keep communications flowing during a disaster. Using Software as a Service (SaaS) for these important communications and collaborations applications keeps your employees, customers and business partners connected even when you are unable to gain physical access to your facilities. Having these applications in the Cloud can help you ensure everyone on your team is present and accounted for.

Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to review your data protection and disaster recovery plans.  Contact your technology advisor today if you are unsure how well you will weather the storm.

Can A Business Continuity Plan Save Your Reputation?

Reputation Management is a hot topic in the boardroom these days. Having a solid business continuity plan could make or break your company’s ability to survive a data breach or other systems failure that could tarnish your hard-earned reputation. Company news about data loss, systems downtime and other unplanned interruptions occur with regularity. According to technology research firm Gartner, a business that has a catastrophic data event has a two-year survival rate of just 6%. Surprisingly, your company can avoid these scenarios by having a solid BC/DR Plan. It is no surprise that recent research by MarketsandMarkets forecasts the spend on DR as a Service (DRaaS) to grow from $1.68 Billion in 2017 in revenue to $11.11 Billion by 2020. Read on to find out how a Business Continuity Plan could save your business.

Understand Your Business Continuity Risk and Exposure

A great place to start with Business Continuity planning is a review of your company policies and procedures. Your business continuity policies should — in addition to identifying the technical standards for managing your company’s applications, data, and related infrastructure — should identify acceptable risk, what your employees will do in a disaster recovery scenario, and identify any compliance requirements. It is important to understand what information is most important and to consider the risks of suffering a data loss. What would be the impact to your revenue, productivity and reputation? If you could not access your information, or it was subject to data breach, how may that impact your customers’ trust and your business’s reputation?

An Ounce of Planning is Worth a Pound of Cure

Ensure you have a solid data protection plan. Ask yourself; how often is your data backed up, how fast could you recover if needed, who are the stakeholders and how would you communicate with them if you suffered a data loss? Another consideration is your Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Your RTO is how long it will take to restore your data. The size of your data and backup methodologies can impact how long recovery may take. Your network may also be a factor in how quickly you can get up and running. Network bottlenecks can turn a routine restore into a never-ending project. Make sure your network is robust enough to meet your Recovery Time Objectives. Also, remember to train your employees on how to avoid malware and phishing schemes. Last but not least, test your backups regularly to ensure data integrity.


Proactive Communications and Rapid Recovery are Critical

If you find yourself in a situation where your data has been compromised, most experts agree you should respond quickly and proactively. As of last count, the United States had 48 state data breach notification laws to comply with. Many countries around the world have various data protection breach notification laws as well. The EU is in the process of implementing The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which establishes data protection guidelines for its citizens’ information.

Having a Business Continuity plan could save your business. Being able to rapidly respond in a disaster recovery scenario is a critical element of survival. Not only will it help you get back up and running quickly, you will avoid unnecessary fines and protect your company’s reputation. If you feel your business would benefit from a risk assessment, contact your technology advisor today.

Reducing Business Risk with Backup and Disaster Recovery

Business ContinuityDoes your business have a backup and disaster recovery plan? Businesses of any size should know which applications–and their associated data–they rely on and what the cost of interruption would be in the event of an unintended disruption. Cyber Threat, natural disasters, and systems failures may impact your business; however, human error is said to be the top cause of data breach (58%), ahead of technology errors. To avoid unnecessary downtime, here are some questions to ask to help assess your backup and disaster recovery plans.

Assess the Risks of Data Loss and System Downtime

With Backup and Disaster Recovery there is always a balance between cost and risk. To allocate your technology spending, it is important to focus on your areas of exposure. Maybe your business relies heavily on an order-processing and invoicing system, or perhaps a manufacturing and inventory control system. If these systems go down you may lose revenue and productivity from employee idle time.  

You may also have intellectual property that is important to your business. What would be the consequence if this data was lost and could not be recovered? You may also have compliance exposure, if you suffered a breach of privacy or other data that should be encrypted was exposed. Assessing your risks and ranking the exposure is an important step to evaluate your backup and disaster recovery plan priorities.

Not all Backup Plans are Alike

For systems you rely on heavily, you may consider having an offsite failover system in the event of a data loss. This can minimize your downtime by enabling you to rapidly cut over to a live system running in parallel to your production environment. Having daily (or even hourly) backups of these systems will minimize downtime for your mission-critical applications and their data.

Other information, including files and other productivity applications, may not need such rapid recovery. Many File Sync and Share applications also provide real-time recovery using Cloud Backup technologies. For productivity applications, this may provide a cost-effective way for you to keep your team productive in the event of a data loss. Some data that may not reside in the cloud, however, needs weekly backup. This regular backup would allow the information to be recovered on an as-needed basis, ensuring continuity in a cost-effective manner.

Testing your Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Periodic testing of your backup and disaster recovery plan is suggested to ensure things are working, in order to minimize downtime and related business disruption. Size of data, network capacity, and other variables could extend your backup window beyond your time requirements. In addition, data may get corrupted during the backup process. So it is important to verify and test your backups to provide confidence in your ability to recover from a disaster.

Every business is different and will have different disaster recovery needs. To ensure that your backup and disaster recovery plan meets your needs, contact your technology advisor for an assessment.

Is Your Network Ready for Cloud Backup?

Cloud BackupRansomware, Privacy Breach, Compliance requirements and Business Continuity make the case to protect your company’s data. Cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaas) require reliable network access to ensure your IT assets are backed up and available for rapid recovery. Today’s networks also support a range of applications including Hosted Email, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and Call Center Solutions. Your network needs to be in top shape to accommodate these demands. Here are some tips to determine if your network is ready for Cloud Backup.

Assess Your Network for Cloud Backup Readiness

When adding Cloud Backup, it is important to understand possible points of failure on your network before they happen. Consider starting with a Network Assessment to stress your network in a controlled environment, in order to determine your backup window. Database and file information on a regular backup schedule may impact your network performance if not properly optimized. Make sure your initial backup and incremental backups run smoothly by simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network. In addition, test your backup and recovery scenarios to identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. Proactive network monitoring can identify potential packet loss and latency that can impact connection speed and uptime. This testing is critical to avoid failed backup and recovery.  

Proactively Monitor Your Network for Security and Compliance

In addition to network usage, Malware and other unauthorized network access can slow your network performance and disrupt your backup and recovery. Your backup may fail when you need it most. Worse, remediating malware during a recovery scenario may delay your ability to bring critical systems back online when restoring from a Cloud-Based Backup. Making sure your network is secure and in compliance may avoid unnecessary downtime.

Cost Effective Network Performance

Technological innovation consistently drives down costs to make systems more efficient. Software Defined (SD) solutions for Wide Area Network and Storage create affordable options to provide secure and reliable Network and Cloud Backup solutions. Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) provides centralized management and policy-based enforcement, making it faster to deploy and easier to manage networks across multiple remote sites. This helps ensure all your locations are ready for Cloud Backup.
Your network is the backbone of your systems infrastructure. If you are unsure if your Network is ready for Cloud Backup, contact your technology advisor today to find out more.

Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business

Cyber SecurityIt is no surprise, technology flattens the world for many businesses. What’s more, nearly every business sector finds it necessary to collect, maintain, analyze, and monetize user data. Many think Cybersecurity risks only apply to highly regulated industries, such as legal, healthcare and financial services.

Cybersecurity Risks Go Beyond Borders

Factors outside industry, including geographic considerations and sensitive consumer data, can create cybersecurity risks that need to be managed. These factors run the gamut of domestic and international laws, regulatory bodies, and private-party business agreements. Cybersecurity compliance can touch every business to some degree.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Cybersecurity

Adding to the list of concerns are non-traditional technologies entering your businesses network. IP-enabled technology called Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly being adopted in the workplace.  The Cybersecurity threat is moving beyond desktops, laptops and services. A new generation of mobile devices–Point of Sale (POS), IP video surveillance, embedded sensors, VoIP, and others–is just the first wave of emerging technologies that need to be secured.

How to Minimize Cybersecurity Risks

There are many things a business can do to reduce Cybersecurity threats. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the following elements are the building blocks for a cybersecurity program:

  • Documented policies, procedures & standards

  • Asset management

  • Identity & access controls

  • Risk management

  • Vendor management

  • Physical & environmental security

  • Compliance

  • Privacy

  • Remote access

  • Data backups

  • Data destruction

Cybersecurity threats are a reality of today’s world. The risks of data compromise and/or loss can cost more than dollars; such risks can cost your reputation. Your business is only as secure as your Network. If you have questions about your business needs, ask your technology advisor about how to manage Cybersecurity threats to your business.

Can You Afford a Data Loss?

Business ContinuityAccording to the technology industry research firm Gartner Group, ninety percent of companies that experience data loss go out of business within two years. Countless studies indicate the longer the downtime, the greater the risk. More and more businesses are turning to Cloud Backup and collation to ensure their critical data is protected. But how long will it take to restore that data when a disaster strikes? Here are some points to consider to minimize the risk of downtime.

Identify Critical Data

If you are an online business or rely on retail systems to keep your registers ringing, you could easily calculate the hourly loss due to system downtime. Similarly, manufacturers, distributors, healthcare organizations, and financial services firms all rely on mission-critical systems to keep employees productive and customers happy. How long could your business survive without email? More than likely, not very long. While more difficult to quantify, communications and collaborations are mainstays to employee productivity and interactivity. In addition to direct financial impact, consider the public relations consequence related to data loss.

Other files and productivity applications are also important to ongoing operations. However, there is a cost to rapid recovery. Understanding the tradeoffs between costs and how much time it takes to recover will help you balance the risks with the financial constraints.

Bullet Proof Your Network

Your network is a critical component for data backup and recovery. Some systems may have a backup window of several hours. A high-performance network can reduce the time it takes for backup and recovery. What’s more, an optimized network has less chance of downtime and connection loss. A flaky connection may reduce the integrity of your backup and impede progress during data recovery.

By monitoring your network you can identify performance bottlenecks, bandwidth constraints, and poorly performing hardware. Keeping your network up to date also reduces unforeseen risks from intrusion that can also impact your recovery time.

Test Your Backups Periodically

Data loss can occur for a variety of reasons. Unprotected systems may be stolen or become corrupted from Malware. Natural disasters including fire, earthquake, tornados, cyclones, and hurricanes may make data unavailable. Your data may fall victim to human error or hardware failure. Regardless of the reason, recovering from a data loss isn’t something any business wants to face.

Backup is really about recovery. Testing your backup provides a number of benefits. Missing files or systems components could cause delays during the recovery process. Data corruption may occur, leaving your backup useless. Network failure during backup may also add to the time it takes for your business to fully recover. By periodically testing your backup you can identify these issues before they occur and avoid common pitfalls associated with disaster recovery scenarios.

If you feel you cannot afford a data loss, research indicates you are not alone. Take the time to consult your technology advisor to minimize business risks from losing your critical data.

What is Distributed Denial of Service, and What Does it Mean to You?

Cyber SecurityWe all know, not being able to get on the WiFi is annoying. But worse still, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can impact  your business and even interfere with vital infrastructure such as electrical grids. According to Forbes’s Michael Krancer, an attack in 2015 knocked 80,000 electrical customers offline for three hours. Other recent attacks put several eCommerce and Internet Server Providers out for hours. In a world where people are always connected to computers, such an attack is becoming all the more common.

What is Distributed Denial of Service?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack occurs when devices connected to the Internet are used to flood a business’s server with data, and make it unavailable to customers (and potential customers). Unlike a simple Denial of Service, a Distributed Denial of Service is an attack on a large, perhaps global, scale. Botnets, networks of devices controlled remotely, are used by malware authors to send huge amounts of junk data to servers. Devices can include cameras, smartphones, or PCs—any device connected to the Internet. Internet of Things (IoT) and other IT trends will fuel the expansion of connected devices. The effect is to exhaust server resources with fake or incomplete information requests, and render the business’s website unavailable to legitimate customers. Attacks can happen on the bandwidth or application layer, or from sheer volume.

What Does a Distributed Denial of Service Mean to You and Your Business?

First, it means loss of legitimate traffic. Your customers can’t access your website, and of course can’t buy products and services from you, costing your company revenue. According to a report by Incapsula cited in a Security Week post, a typical attack lasting 6 – 24 hours can result in a loss of half a million dollars. Second, non-financial costs–loss of trust from customers, loss of intellectual property, and exposure of confidential data–also result.

What Can You Do to Be Prepared for a DDOS Attack?

The primary purpose of protection is to detect and mitigate attacks. As DDoS attacks target multiple systems, be sure to protect on multiple fronts. Be sure to monitor call centers and other customer-facing systems. Mission-critical systems should have redundancy and failover. All of these defenses should be part of your business continuity plan, in the event of a natural—or man-made—disaster.

If you are unsure about your readiness to survive a DDOS or need assistance in protecting yourself, contact your trusted technology advisor today.

What is Ransomware and How to Protect Against It

RansomwareRansomware is a type of malware designed to block access to your computer until a sum of money is paid. Ransomware issues have impacted many individuals with home computers; however, it is only a matter of time before this malicious software attacks business. Starting with Cryptolocker in 2013, Ransomware exploits have become increasing sophisticated and have cost individual companies thousands of dollars in ransom.

Here are some tips to take to help your business avoid being held captive by Ransomware.

Backup to the Cloud to Recover from a Ransomware Attack.

An inadequate backup strategy without real-time backups or offsite backup could hamper your ability to recover from a Ransomware attack. Being able to recover data from your Cloud Backup could get your systems up and running in a hurry, avoiding the need to pay ransom.

Keep Your IT Assets Up to Date and in Compliance

If your systems get behind in operating system and applications patches and updates, you may create a security hole that can be compromised by Ransomware. Many managed security and managed service offerings include proactive management and delivery of these important updates so your network will not be held hostage by ransomware.

Training Your Employees to Detect and Report Ransomware

Your employees are your front line of defense when it comes to your systems security. Make sure your employees know how to identify a phishing email and understand the risks of opening documents and attachments (including unfamiliar file extensions or .exe file formats) from unauthorized sources. Ensure your employees understand what Ransomware is and how it can impact your company’s productivity and drain financial resources. Make sure employees are clear on procedures to quickly report any security breach to avoid widespread distribution of a Ransomware attack.

To avoid unnecessary downtime and costs associated with Ransomware, it is important to proactively protect your computer systems. If you have any questions about steps to take to avoid Ransomware in your organization, contact your trusted technology advisor.

Proactive Networking Monitoring: What & Why

Proactive Network MonitoringYour business relies more and more on healthy network infrastructure. Migration to Cloud, Compliance and IT Security all fuel the case to proactively monitor your network health. By proactively scanning your network, you can identify bottlenecks and other irregularities that could impact your network performance and network security. Identifying network compromise in advance will save your business time and money in the long run.

Here are some considerations of what to proactively monitor on your network and why:

Monitor Your Network Performance

Network performance monitoring may identify a number of issues impacting your employee productivity. In some cases it may be a hardware failure (network switch or router) that is causing intermittent outage. Data-intensive applications (e.g. remote backup, call center or VoIP) may need optimization to improve overall network performance. Regular proactive network monitoring will identify these issues that can easily be remediated to avoid any unnecessary downtime, loss of employee productivity, or other failures such as dropped calls and failed backups.

Monitor Your Network Access

A periodic scan of devices attached to your network will identify any unauthorized access to your network. You may identify devices including desktop, laptop and mobile access from terminated employees, unauthorized access on your wireless network, and other potential compromises to your network. A regular scan of your network helps you stay in compliance and avoid any security compromise.

Monitor Your Network Utilization

By monitoring your network utilization, you may identify usage patterns impacting your overall network performance. Social media and streaming technologies can chew up your company bandwidth. By monitoring your utilization you may need to implement internal policies on use of streaming and digital media to free up bandwidth for mission-critical services.

Monitor Your Network Security

Your network is as strong as its weakest link. Periodically monitor your network endpoints to ensure Operating System patch, Antivirus and Malware definitions are all up to date. One device out of compliance could be infected and compromise your entire network.

Proactive Network Monitoring is a healthy best practice that saves you money and time while reducing business risk. If you are unsure of your network health or need to know more about network monitoring contact your network specialist today.