As a business owner, you plan for every contingency, from backing up important files to ensuring you have someone ready to step in if one of your employees has a sudden absence. One thing you might be unprepared for, however, is an unforeseen event that jeopardizes all your vital information. After all, no one thinks a disaster will happen to them—until it’s too late.
Of course, every business community has unique challenges that set them apart from other geographies, and Tulsa is no different. Here is what you need to know about why you should create a business continuity and disaster recovery plan to protect your Tulsa business enterprise, and how to get started.
Local Hacking Victims Show Potential Data Loss
It’s easy to imagine large corporations being targeted by cybercriminals—they have the most assets to offer a thief, after all. However, the reality is that hackers often prefer to attack small businesses because they usually lack the security infrastructure and awareness of large companies. Given a choice between a white whale like a major Silicon Valley company and a local Oklahoma business, many cybercriminals will choose the smaller, easier target.
In May of 2018, hackers broke into several City of Tulsa accounts, which were promptly disabled. Databreaches.net reported that “Mayor G.T. Bynum says this is not the first time something like this has happened,” which shows the severity of the situation. Cybercriminals looking for financial information often try to infiltrate government files, but any business that handles financial data is similarly vulnerable to these kinds of unscrupulous attacks.
Natural Disasters Affect Tulsa Business Owners
A small enterprise is also less likely to be able to easily recover from damage suffered in a fire, natural disaster, or another calamity. This is especially true if the business has not used cloud-based servers to secure its vital data. An event doesn’t have to be cataclysmic to impact your valuable data, either—something as mundane as a power outage can cause data and productivity to be lost.
Of course, as the recent tornado in August of 2017 shows, business owners must be prepared for any eventuality. Fox 23 News reported that about 150 Tulsa businesses were damaged, and 12 were condemned as a result of wind damage. With the proper protections in place, however, you can remain in business and keep all your valuable files safe even if your brick and mortar location is suddenly destroyed.
How to Protect Your Business
Ideally, you should implement proactive initiatives aimed at preventing disasters from happening in the first place. Ensuring that you have effective cybersecurity precautions in place is the first step to protecting your data. Maintain an up-to-date password policy so employees can make well-informed password choices; this makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to employee accounts. Train everyone in your organization so they can spot phishing emails and other strategies hackers use to target businesses.
Backing up your data in multiple locations, including cloud servers, is another helpful step you can take to prevent information losses. A recent report by Network World shows that 54% of businesses surveyed experienced downtime that lasted for more than eight hours—that adds up to thousands of dollars in lost productivity, not to mention the valuable data that could have been lost. Precautionary measures can go a long way toward helping you avoid a disaster, but what can you do if one strikes in spite of your best efforts? That’s when a solid disaster recovery and business continuity plan becomes invaluable.
What’s the Difference Between a Business Continuity Plan and a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Both these plans are aimed at putting processes in place to minimize the damage caused by an unforeseen event, but there are several important distinctions of you should be aware.
Basically, business continuity measures are actions meant to be taken in the event of an emergency, allowing the company to continue operations while experts assess and repair any damage. Ready.gov provides several resources and recommendations for setting up a business continuity plan, instructing business owners to first conduct a business impact analysis to identify critical business functions, then to create a plan to recover them. Next, members of the business continuity team should be trained, and they should conduct tests and exercises to test the plan’s effectiveness.
A disaster recovery plan is a critical pillar of any business continuity plan. Because its focus is keeping I.T. systems operational, disaster recovery centers around restoring the data, hardware, and important applications that keep businesses running smoothly. A disaster recovery plan is comprised of three types of measures: preventive, detective, and corrective. Preventive measures aim to stop negative events preemptively, detective measures (such as security scans) detect problems, and corrective measures restore systems to normal operations.
How to Implement Your New Plan
Once you are ready to create a business continuity and disaster recovery plan, there are several steps you can take to put it in place. First, a team should be created and coordinated by key I.T. personnel. The team will make note of the most vital I.T. infrastructure components, including hardware, network devices, enterprise software, and important data. They will then develop a strategy for preserving as much functionality as possible, including manual workarounds as needed. Next, the team should communicate the plan to other members of the organization and conduct tests to check its effectiveness.
What Should I Do if a Disaster Has Already Happened?
Even if you have already experienced an extreme event, there are still strategies you can use to save as much information as possible. The next step is incident response: assessing the situation, recovering systems if possible, and following up. Many managed service providers (MSPs) provide disaster recovery-as-a-service, or DRaaS. These services are often cloud-based, making them relatively inexpensive and easy to deploy.
Small businesses across the globe are especially vulnerable to disasters, and recent data breaches and extreme weather events show that Tulsa is no exception. JMARK has been helping organizations of all sizes build I.T. solutions based around their specific needs for thirty years. The leaders of our Tulsa office have deep ties to the area and understand the unique makeup and challenges of the Tulsa business community. To learn more about how our business continuity and disaster recovery solutions, call 844-44-JMARK, send us an email at [email protected] or visit the Contact Us page of our website.