May 13, 2020

How to keep your business healthy during any crisis

Written by: Alan Manicom, Redstor

As firms segregate staff to safeguard business continuity from the impact of the coronavirus, there has perhaps never been a more pressing time to review disaster-recovery plans and address any shortcomings.

IT departments often struggle to get the budget they deserve for a comprehensive backup and disaster-recovery system.

However, the heightened concern around the COVID-19 virus is changing minds. Organisations are accelerating plans to improve the way they protect data - while others are reconsidering long-standing policies, no longer seen to be inadequate.

The health and well-being of employees will always remain of paramount importance, but not having access to data, even for a few hours, is of huge concern too as it can cause irreparable damage in the form of lost business, catastrophic fines and reputational damage.

When a business looks at how best to cope with a human virus spreading through its workforce, preparations are not too dissimilar to those needed to reduce the impact of a computer virus.

To find out whether your organisation is at risk, read our five-point DR guide to keeping your business in a healthy condition in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak:

1.Consider educating more of your workforce about how you back up, monitor and restore data

What happens if the few people who know about the way your company protects its data fall sick. Consider giving basic training to more employees to minimise the chances of a lack of expertise.

The easier the solution is to configure and install, and the simpler it is to administer, monitor and recover data, the better.

You don’t want to leave the company waiting for data to be restored. The speed of recovery should not rest on a few inexperienced people.

If your data management is a complicated task, requiring extensive training, getting to grips with everything quickly may be difficult - and it may be time to reconsider the protection of your data going forward.

2.Test your DR capabilities NOW!

Surveys suggest that 23% of organisations never test their disaster-recovery plan at all and only 29% test their plan once a year.

Most claim there’s not enough time for testing while a third insist it’s just not a priority where they work. Well, it really should be right now!

Regular testing of your DR processes gives you peace of mind and the confidence that even with a skeleton staff you can respond rapidly in the event of a coronavirus-induced crisis.

Establishing, refining, and recording the steps you need to make will improve your operational confidence and minimise disruption, should an incident occur.

Now might also be a good time to gauge how easy it is to test your disaster-recovery plan.

Do you get charged for restores or bandwidth? Would you prefer not to have any cost associated with testing your DR provision?

How useful would it be to have backed-up systems and data presented for temporary access as a virtual drive and the capability for permanent recovery to a destination of your choice?

3.Mitigate against the risk of a mobile workforce on less well protected networks

Even if most people in your organisation are comfortable working on laptops and mobile devices, staying at home for extended periods of time - in response to a coronavirus outbreak - increases the chances that critical files and folders will exist outside of your data environment.

Important data created on laptops may not necessarily be included in centralised company storage. Even worse, networks are typically more vulnerable when employees work remotely on their own devices.

Many companies fail to provide backup and recovery for mobile devices, despite most experts insisting they should.

Cyberattacks are the fastest growing of all crimes and predicted to cost the world 6 trillion dollars annually by 2021 - and all it takes to leave a business wide open is one ill-advised click.

Ideally you need a solution that automates the process of securely sending data offsite and guarantees recovery from a ransomware attack by enabling you to access protected data instantly.

4.Prepare for prospect of employees storing vital data in GSuite or on Office 365’s OneDrive and SharePoint.

A typical alternative to mobile device backup is a centralised communication and collaboration system.

If employees are to be encouraged to make more use of Office 365 or G-Suite, in the event of an escalation in the coronavirus, they should be trained in the best ways to do so.

Ensuring business continuity can be difficult and risky if IT staff rely on native protection since this is not only limited, but also complex and time-consuming to manage.

Organisations have a responsibility not only to protect critical data in O365 and G-Suite, but also to comply with regulations.

However, to believe that a SaaS vendor like Microsoft has taken care of your backup is a dangerous assumption - particularly when data has been deleted, but it’s gone unnoticed for a while.

Section 6 of Microsoft’s own Services Agreement recommends that organisations use a third party to protect O365 data.

In this way you avoid relinquishing control and can rest assured with a separate backup policy as security standard.

True cloud-to-cloud protection should require no on-prem servers and have no impact on local bandwidth or storage management.

5.Have contingency plans for when there is no way to transport removeable media or visit sites

An escalation of the coronavirus may mean restrictions on travel, which may put a strain on non-automated solutions that involve the transportation and storage of physical media.

That in turn may make it difficult to meet Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives.

The solution is a flexible technology that can be deployed to physical and virtualised environments - VMs, public cloud servers and mobile devices.

Ideally you will want to be able to back up from any location - to a choice of your own data centre, the cloud, a hyper-scale environment or a combination of all three - and whatever the issue, you need to be sure you can quickly and easily restore data to its original location or a new location of your choice.

It is also vital to have the capability to complete ad-hoc file recoveries or full system restores at any time and as often as you require.

That is going to be difficult if you are using tape-based backups and the coronavirus means that employees are confined to home or prevented from going far afield.

If your company used a cloud-based, fully automated disaster recovery service, you could fail-over your entire IT infrastructure without ever having to be physically present anywhere.

Keep calm and carry on

With a backup and DR system that can handle the worst, you’ll be able to ride out any nightmare scenario with ease. You can then focus on what is truly important – keeping your team safe.

Speak to SEACOM today to learn more about how SEACOM and Redstor can assist your business.