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Time to prepare for hurricanes (and pandemics)

It’s time to prepare for Hurricanes. The 2020 hurricane season is off to a fast start. For the first time in recorded history, eight named tropical storms formed before August 1, with the first hurricane of the year, Hanna, making landfall along the Gulf Coast of Texas last weekend.

That means it’s time to take a good hard look at disaster preparedness. It’s not just hurricanes, either; fire season is looming on the West Coast, high-tide floods are increasing along the East Coast, and all of North America continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the face of so much uncertainty, the need for proactive readiness is heightened. Whether your business is planning for the worst or hoping for the best, it’s clear that we can’t just assume disasters won’t affect us.

What does that look like when it comes to technology?

Remote backup, disaster preparedness, and business continuity planning are critical. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40-60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster—and 90% of smaller companies fail within a year if they can’t resume operations 5 days after a disaster.

The disparity between small and large businesses is even more glaring when it comes to business continuity, defined as an organization’s ability to ensure core functions are not severely impacted by an unplanned incident that takes critical systems offline. According to FEMA, 1 in 5 companies spends no time maintaining their business continuity plan, while 20% of larger companies devote more than 10 days a month to such plans.

If a disaster-affected your business in the next few weeks, how would you respond?

1. The first step is to understand your data backup structure.

Working with a trusted IT provider, you can perform a detailed data assessment that categorizes all assets by priority, location, and access needs. That way, you can ensure the most important information is backed up regularly, remotely, and redundantly. The vast majority of business backups are performed manually and on-site—often on physical hard drives located directly next to the computers they’re backing up. If fire, flood, or theft affects your business, those backups often won’t be spared. With automatic backups stored in a combination of physical and cloud locations, you can be confident that your data is there when you need it.

2. Now, how do you recover that data?

Maintaining reliable access to those backups is equally important. At CMIT Solutions, our data backup plans come with robust data recovery procedures baked right in. That means affected businesses can retrieve their information as quickly as possible to support a return to day-to-day business operations. Here’s that FEMA stat again for emphasis: 90% of smaller companies fail within a year if they can’t resume operations 5 days after a disaster.

3. Implement (and test!) a virtualization strategy, too.

Robust data recovery plans include a component for virtualization. This outlines which computers can be used to reinstate and rebuild compromised data, along with which users have the necessary access rights to jumpstart the recovery process. Such steps can be completed remotely if needed, with key machines designated as failsafe options in the case of physical damage to your office or its existing systems. The important thing here is testing: you don’t want to wait to find out whether recovery actually works in the wake of a disaster, and you want to know exactly how long it takes to perform a full restore of your data. A few hours on way or the other can mean the difference between weathering a storm and suffering from it.

4. Next up, the business continuity plan.

What sets recovery and virtualization plans apart from continuity plans? The former includes explicit instructions to follow at a specific point in time; the latter outlines a coordinated plan for business survival from that recovery point forward. A robust template for business continuity doesn’t just get your business back on its feet in the immediate aftermath of a disaster; it spells out the short- and long-term steps needed to continue surviving and thriving in the face of unprecedented problems that could last for days (in the case of hurricanes), weeks (in the case of fires or floods), or even months and years (in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic).

5. Finally, there’s incident management—the human response to disaster.

Unlike automated technology processes, these can’t be planned perfectly. We all respond differently to different types of disasters, and when it comes to weather, there’s only so much that preparation can cover. But by outlining the steps that your employees will take in terms of communication, responsibility, and day-to-day response, your business can be as ready as possible for anything that Mother Nature (or a cybercriminal, or simple human error) throws at you.

Some businesses stand to lose the most from natural disasters; some have to worry more about ransomware, phishing attempts, and data breaches. No matter what threats your company faces, CMIT Solutions can help you prepare for them.

Our North America-wide network takes a proactive approach to cybersecurity. With around-the-clock monitoring and maintenance, strong data backup procedures, and practical incident response plans, we help our clients weather hurricanes, floods, wildfires, pandemics, ice storms, and other day-to-day disasters.

Want to know more about how CMIT Solutions can help you overcome obstacles and respond to any problem? Contact CMIT Solutions today.

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