Business continuity and disaster recovery strategies require a great deal of foresight, especially now that data has become the bedrock of many modern working environments. Large enterprises, SMBs and even nonprofit organizations aggregate massive quantities of data to help inform their decision making and improve operational agility. In fact, around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, according to a 2018 article from Forbes, with around 90 percent of all data in the world having been generated in the past three years. This pace is only accelerating, yet the growing reliance on data analytics has opened the door to a variety of new challenges for businesses and customers alike.
In the past, commercial businesses largely developed disaster recovery plans that focused on physical threats, such as severe weather, flooding and fires. However, the digitization of contemporary business practices has upended this approach, shifting concern from the physical to the virtual world. Data loss is now a chief point of anxiety for most organizations, costing U.S. businesses over $12 billion per year, as reported by Beyond Technology. The best way to protect against data loss (and other threats) is for organizations to develop business continuity and disaster recovery protocols that align with their unique operational needs. To help you get started, consider these five important steps for building an effective IT business continuity plan:
Step 1: Threat Assessment
The first step to developing a comprehensive BCDR strategy is to understand the exact threats your company faces — from hurricanes to cyberattacks, and everything in between. While natural disasters have led to instances of data loss, these events only account for around 1 percent of all reported cases, per Beyond Technology. Some of the leading causes of data loss include:
- Hardware or system failure
- Malware, viruses and security breaches
- Software corruption
- Human error
- Data theft
Assessing these risk categories can help you identify which threats your organization is most vulnerable to. For example, companies that store their data in facilities located in coastal regions must consider the impact of tropical storms. Severe weather aside, almost all businesses should consider themselves a potential target for cyber crime, as incidents of malware, ransomware and data theft continue to grow increasingly common.
Step 2: Infrastructure Review
Once you’ve evaluated all the potential risks, the next step is to review the current state of your IT infrastructure to identify vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement. This can be a real challenge for large organizations that operate thousands of on-premises workstations, as each endpoint is a potential attack vector for would-be hackers. As the internet of things and BYOD culture have grown increasingly commonplace, IT administrators have had to widen the scope of their security protocols to cover a variety of new devices, from smartphones to wireless printers. Consider these important questions as you review your IT infrastructure:
- How many computers are in use and what OS do they run?
- What other hardware solutions (printers, photocopiers, etc.) have been deployed?
- Do personal devices have access to your network?
- How many employees work remotely?
- Where is data primarily stored, on-premises or offsite?
- Is your data backed up at a disaster recovery site?
Step 3: IT Solutions Integration
Integrating cutting-edge technologies can help you shore up your defenses and protect your network from intentional and accidental damage. After you’ve assessed your current operational environment, the next step is to seek out applications that can strengthen your network security and insulate your endpoints. Some examples include:
- Cloud storage: Storing or backing up your data on a cloud platform can prevent massive data loss following an onsite network or system failure. According to CIO, 20 percent of cloud storage users are able to recover from site disasters in four hours or less, in part due to the agility of modern data management solutions.
- Reboot to restore software: Hardware failures and software bugs can significantly disrupt your employees’ workflows, leading to productivity losses and a high volume of IT support tickets. Reboot to restore technology allows end users to resolve their own computer problems with a simple restart of their workstations, and can even remove malware and ransomware without the need for re-imaging.
Step 4: Process Development
The final step for creating a robust business continuity plan for your IT infrastructure is to develop clear, detailed threat mitigation procedures that can address each risk independently. When disaster strikes, each member of your BCDR team must understand what recovery processes they are in charge of, and how to perform their assigned activities as quickly and efficiently as possible. Without a comprehensive response plan, your organization could experience a prolonged outage that may threaten your overall financial stability — 93 percent of companies that lose their data centers for 10 days or more go bankrupt within one year, per Boston Computing Network.
Effective business continuity relies on the continuous assessment and improvement of your network and system security processes, as protecting your IT infrastructure against today’s physical and virtual risks does not mean you’ll be safe from the sophisticated threats of tomorrow. Farnoics’ Deep Freeze software can help you efficiently manage your IT assets while securing your data against a wide range of risk factors, from malware attacks to user error and more.
To learn more about how Faronics’ solutions have ensured high system availability for over 30,000 organizations worldwide, contact us today.