The coronavirus may put organisations at risk through short staffing or unavailable workers and services, but disaster recovery and business continuity plans can help sustain business operations.
The need for a disaster recovery business continuity plan is becoming more critical as organisations adjust to the business disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
A virus in and of itself can’t shut down your company’s systems, operations, or services, but it can impact how the business functions, especially if people are quarantined at home or are too sick to work or you experience a network outage or other disruptions as a direct result.
It’s not often that businesses face a pandemic, but natural disasters, man-made disasters, security threats (such as a malware attack) and outages are a reality, and if businesses want to ensure a smooth recovery process and continuity of operations, it is critical that they do a risk assessment and develop a recovery strategy, with disaster recovery and business continuity planning integral to this.
Further, during a major disaster, technical representatives may not be able to get on site to repair devices which need maintenance and even the supply lines for parts or materials can be adversely impacted. Businesses may also face other business disruptions such as network outages, revenue loss, data loss, security vulnerabilities and threats, and stifled productivity, to name a few examples.
All of this is made even more imperative knowing that industry statistics show 40% to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster. But this doesn’t have to happen when proper disaster recovery and a business continuity plan is in place.
So, what to do?
Here are some of the questions that businesses should be asking themselves and their IT service providers.
How can we ensure that business processes will recover?
How can we ensure data backup processes and recover lost data?
What safeguards and safety procedures can we implement for our employees?
In addition, business continuity plans should include provisions for workers as well as systems. To prepare, companies should invest money and time in the following resources to help ensure a smooth recovery process following any type of natural or man-made disaster:
Continuity of business operations: Implement remote access infrastructure that can support the entire workforce (VPN devices, high-speed internet lines into the organization, laptops and/or on-site servers to host user connections).
Ensure resources are available: Ensure proper access to necessary resources at the office even when workers are remote. This may mean needing additional firewall rules to permit VPN users to get to the systems; often these rules are separate from what exists on-site.
Keep employees online: Offer mobile hotspots for remote internet access in case employees lose power or don’t have available connectivity.
Ensure constant communication: Educate users on how to access resources and make available the instructions and provide contact information for them to request technical assistance. This material should be accessible offline, as well, in case they can’t connect to the company networks.
Workers should also be planning in advance for a major disaster by establishing the following best practices:
A comfortable and quiet space to work from home (a dedicated office is optimal; sitting on the couch with a laptop while the kids watch Netflix is not).
Routine, periodic testing of remote access.
The habit of changing passwords as needed and ensuring these are stored securely via a password manager such as KeePass, because nothing hampers remote work efforts like a forgotten or expired password.
About the author: Julian Brettle has over 20 years of experience as a technical salesperson for IT MSPs and likes nothing more than a cup of coffee and a chat about how to cure your IT headaches. Follow him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/julianbrettle/
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