Blog

June 9th, 2014

businesscontinuity_June9_ARegardless of your location, the months of June, July, and August are usually prime for natural disasters. From Spring runoff in the mountains in the US in June to hurricane and typhoon seasons in the West and Asia, your business could be faced with a challenge. The best thing you can do to see your business through a disaster is to be prepare and one great way is through the use of apps.

Both Android and Apple mobile devices offer a wide variety of apps that users rely on daily. Because of this, these devices have become an integral part of our lives and would no doubt be on hand if disaster struck. The upside to this is that there are apps that can help you and your employees whatever the disaster. Here are four of the best types of disaster related apps you and your colleagues should download in order to prepare.

Weather apps

It is always a good idea to know what the weather forecast is for your local area. This can help you predict what could happen and even prepare your business should say a big storm be rolling in. There are a wide variety of weather apps out there and it can be difficult to actually pick which is the best to use. We recommend:
  1. The NOAA Weather Radio - Available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad users, this app is the official app for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. When installed, you can receive local weather forecasts based on your location and storm or severe weather warnings pushed directly to your device. The app can be found on iTunes and costs USD$3.99
  2. Weather Underground - This app is among the most powerful weather apps out there. Using a wide variety of weather stations and user submitted weather it is up to date and able to offer accurate forecasts. With a Weather Radio feature, and push notifications of weather alerts, you can easily track potential storms. There is also the WunderMap which has radar, reports and IR Sat views as well. The app is available for free on Google Play and iTunes, and is rumored to be coming soon for Windows Phone.
  3. Local weather apps - Many TV stations and weather organizations have localized weather apps that focus on just local conditions. If you live in a disaster prone area, it would be a good idea to see if your local TV station has a weather app, as this could be the quickest way to receive updates.

American Red Cross apps

The Red Cross has a number of excellent survival oriented apps that could really come in handy for when a disaster strikes. These apps provide tips on how to prepare yourself and your family, as well as buildings for disaster, and what to do during and after a disaster strikes.

The best part is that most of the information is available offline, so you will have access to it even if cell networks are down. Some of the apps even provide weather alerts that will sound even if the app isn't open, alerting you about any impending danger.

These apps are all available for free on Google Play and iTunes. The best thing to do is to visit the Red Cross website and look for the apps that are relevant to your local area e.g., if you are in the mountains the Forest Fire and First Aid apps may help. The apps are all free and can be downloaded by clicking the links for your device's app store on the Red Cross site.

Social media apps

Social media services could prove to be a good way to connect and communicate during a disaster. Try setting up a group for your employees to communicate and encourage them to use it when a disaster strikes to share information and enact plans. One of the biggest added advantages to using social networks is that the servers that host the service are located around the world, so the chances of the service being down is fairly slim. If you have Internet access, you will be able to access the service.

It would be a good idea to define which social network you want to use and establish your pages and connections ahead of time. Have each employee sign up for and join the group you have created and also download the app onto their mobile devices.

Google Public Alerts

Google Public Alerts is the company's alert platform that allows for the distribution of emergency messages and notices like evacuation notices, public alerts, and storm warnings. For users in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia alerts will appear in Google Searches, Maps and if you are an Android or iOS user, from Google Now.

Mobile users who have Google Now installed should see relevant alerts pop up when something happens. While you won't see alerts for absolutely everything, Google does a pretty good job at broadcasting useful information. On mobile devices, these alerts will usually pop up in your Notifications Center where they are easy to see.

To get these notifications on your Android device, you will need to download the Google Search app and activate it on your device. You can find it for free on the Google Play Store, and on iTunes. Android users can also download the Google Now Launcher which will add Google Now to your device's home screen, and can be accessed by swiping to the right from your Home Screen.

Tips for using your mobile during an emergency

Here are six tips to help you leverage your mobile device during a disaster.
  1. Install relevant apps - In order to be prepared, you should install the apps necessary to communicate during a disaster, along with a weather app and if necessary a survival app.
  2. Ensure your contacts are up to date - To be sure, you should periodically update your contacts. Should anything happen you will know how to contact people and have a higher chance of being able to get in touch.
  3. Ensure your employees have devices that work - Even if you don't allow mobile devices in the office, or employees to use their own devices, it would be a great idea to ensure that your employees have devices that are in working order so should they need to contact you, or vice versa, you will have a better chance of being able to.
  4. Establish procedures to follow during a disaster - This is arguably the most important preparation you can do. Take the time to establish procedures you and your employees should follow during an emergency. Include where people should meet, backup plans, contact suggestions and the roles you expect your employees to take.
  5. Keep your batteries topped up - Mobile devices rely on batteries to operate, and during a disaster you may be without a power source for an extended amount of time. Therefore, Minimize use during a disaster. Ensure your batteries are full, or charges as often and has high as possible.
  6. Invest in a good power bank - Power banks are useful tools that are essentially big batteries. You can charge them up then use them to charge your devices. Take a look for one that is at least 9000 MHZ, or higher. The higher the number the bigger the charge.
If you are looking to learn more about using mobile devices during a disaster, or how your company can prepare, contact us today. Learn about our services and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 14th, 2014

BCP_May13_ABacking up your systems and the data contained within it should be a task your business does on a regular basis. However, when it actually comes to backing up your systems, you have a number of options available to you, and it can be tricky picking which one to go with. From tape to cloud, you should be aware of the main options and what they offer.

Three common backup options

When it comes to backing up your systems, there are three common platforms that are used:
  • Tape
  • Disk
  • Cloud
Some businesses use all three, while others stick to using just one. While each of these options do the same thing - essentially backing up your data - there are differences between each platform.

Tape-based backup

Tape-based backup is the oldest forms of data backup available to businesses, and has been in use since the mid 1960s. Many older, or well established businesses, likely have used this method for a long time, so they may find it easier to stick with it, largely because no infrastructure upgrades are needed.

While this method may seem a little anachronistic, there are still manufacturers creating backup tapes - most notable Sony, who recently introduced a new tape system that can store up to 185TB (terabytes) of data on one tape. That's about equal to the storage capacity of around 11,800 16GB iPhone 5s.

The vast majority of businesses using this system do so as a secondary backup. They use another system to back up their data, and then back up this backup data onto physical tape which can then be moved off-site and stored in a safe location, should disaster strike.

The biggest drawback of tape stem from the fact that it is an older method and it takes longer to back up data compared to other systems. The tapes themselves are also more fragile and can be prone to failure, leading to corrupt data and unreadability. Finally, if you do need to recover from a tape backup, you are going to have to do so in a specific manner, which means it will take longer to recover your systems than other methods.

Disk-based backup

Disk-based backup solutions use a variety of disk storage units to hold backups of your data. The most popular forms of disk storage used are hard drives or optical disks. Because these systems use more modern storage methods, backup and recovery can generally be carried out far quicker than with tape systems, and can be more reliable, especially if you take care of your systems and the disks the backups are stored on.

The added benefit with these systems is that hard disks are constantly dropping in price and increasing in capacity, meaning you can fit more data on fewer devices. This helps keep costs manageable, and may result in reduced costs over time.

Because disk-based systems rely on hard drives or optical disks, there is always the chance that your backups can be lost, ruined or even stolen. Also, many companies choose to keep these physical backups on-site, so if there is a disaster this could result in the loss of these backups.

To get around this, many companies have duplicate systems. They back up to different devices which are kept off-site. This redundancy can help ensure that your data is available, but it can be expensive to purchase multiple backup solutions.

Cloud-based backup

Cloud, or online-based backup, utilizes off-site technology to host your backups. Most small business solutions work with providers who host the servers in their organization. The business then connects to the servers via a network connection in order to backup their data.

The biggest advantage of cloud systems is that they are generally more affordable. This is because you don't need to have the systems in your office, which means you don't need to pay for the data systems and the upkeep associated with them. Cloud systems are also less labor intensive because they can be managed by your IT partner.

Aside from being easier to manage, backup and recovery is usually quicker with the cloud because you can set up a solution that continually backs up. As long as you have an Internet connection, you will usually be able to restore your systems in a matter of hours.

While the cloud is becoming the most popular backup solution, there are some drawbacks. You need a faster bandwidth connection if you want to be able to back up while also working. This may require you to invest in better network infrastructure, which costs. The other issue some companies have is that because this is a new solution, they may not trust that the solution is secure. The vast majority of backup solutions available have been designed to be secure and have become a viable solution for many smaller businesses.

If you are looking to implement a backup solution in your business, contact us today to learn about what solutions we have to offer.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 22nd, 2014

BCP_Apr21_ADisaster can strike at any time. And when it does, it may cripple your business operations, unless you have a business continuity plan (BCP) ready. It’s different from a disaster recovery plan (DCP), though the latter is a part of a BCP. DCP only focuses on the recovery of the organization’s IT assets, while BCP ensures that the business continues its operations in general.

Why make a business continuity plan?

Having a BCP for your company has several benefits. One of the most obvious is that your business can continue its everyday operations, thus allowing you to keep making sales. Aside from this, there are other advantages:
  • Possible to work in remote locations - In the event that your office can’t be used because of disaster, you’ll know how to keep key business functions running by thinking ahead about how employees or key personnel can continue working from remote locations. You may also have a certain place ready to be used as your temporary office if needed.
  • Downtime can be lessened - When disaster strikes it can stop your business operations immediately. Without a business continuity plan, you have to figure out what to do next the moment it happens. However, if you have an existing plan in place, you can immediately start to execute what needs to be done so that you get your business up and running in no time. Time means money in every business and that’s why it’s important not to waste any time unnecessarily.
  • Continue to provide for your customers - If your business operations stop, your customers may start trying out other products or services from other companies. They may forget about you if they don’t feel your presence. Since a successful BCP will keep you up and running, you’ll be able to keep hold of your loyal customers and even continue to make new ones, especially if your competitors do not have a business continuity plan and are afflicted with adverse circumstances too.

Factors to consider when creating a BCP

Since every business is unique, there’s no single BCP that works for all. However, there are common factors that must be considered by every company when devising one.
  • People to manage a BCP - As with any project or program, there should be a committee to take over the management of the business continuity process. This is unlikely to be achieved by a single person. It is best being a collaborative effort, where people have specific roles such as appointing an executive sponsor that takes care of funds and coordinators who oversee the overall process.
  • Analysis of business impact - You need to determine which products and services are the most important to your business operations. Ranking your products according to how critical their impact to your business is will help you determine which products to prioritize during the recovery phase. With this in mind, you can prevent bigger losses and maximize the efficiency of your recovery process.

Plan creation

After determining which products, services, and functions are most vital to your business, you can start creating a plan on what to do in the event of a disaster. It should clearly tell the process that must be followed, as well as the specific roles of individuals. There are existing sample plans that you can find on the Web and you can follow the format of a business in the same industry and customize the plan to suit your individual company.

Plan review

Your BCP plan must be studied carefully for quality. Every area should be reviewed properly to ensure the plan is a success. Since the needs and processes of the company may change, it’s also important to review the plan once or twice a year to ensure that it’s still appropriate for your business.

If you are truly serious about establishing business security, a BCP isn’t a process that you can easily neglect. Remember, you never know when a disaster can strike! The sooner you get a plan of action, the better. Contact us today to see how we can help you develop a plan that will work for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 19th, 2014

BCP_Marc17_AA business without a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) is like a circus acrobat without a safety net. The question is, are you willing to take that kind of a risk with your business? Considering how attacks to your business can come in many forms be it cyber, natural disaster or man made (among many others), it makes perfect sense to have an effective DRP in place.

While there are several facets to a DRP that are going to determine whether it will be effective or not, making sure that you’ve considered these 5 tips is definitely a good start.

1.) Commitment from management

Because the managers are the ones who will coordinate the development of the plan and be the central figures who implement the recovery plan, it’s crucial that they are committed to it and are willing to back it up.

They will also be responsible for setting an allocated budget and manpower to creating the actual plan. That said, it’s very important that they know the concept behind it and how huge of an impact a DRP can have on a business.

2.) A representative on each department should be available when creating a DRP

It’s unthinkable to believe that your DRP is well optimized when you haven’t had a representative from each department coordinate with you while creating the recovery program.

Considering how they themselves are the front line of your organization with the best knowledge about how their department works, it’s a huge plus that you should take advantage of when creating a DRP.

With the representatives on your team, you’ll be able to see things from their perspective and gain first-hand knowledge from those who do the actual work.

3.) Remember to prioritize

In an ideal world, you should be able to restore everything at the same time after a disaster strikes. But since most businesses usually have a limited amount of resources, you will usually have to recover systems one at a time.

Because of this, you need to have a hierarchy or a sense of priority when determining which systems should be recovered first. That way, the most important systems are immediately brought back up while the less important ones are then queued in order of their importance.

4.) Determining your recovery strategies

This is one of the main focal points of a DRP since this phase tackles the actual strategies or steps that you’ll implement to recover your systems.

When determining your actual strategies, it's important that you brainstorm and think about all the options that you have to recovering your systems. Don’t simply stick with the cheapest possible strategy or even the most expensive ones.

You have to remember though that the simplest strategy to implement is probably the best one. That is, as long as the simplest strategy covers the critical aspects of your system recovery.

That said, avoid over complicating your strategies as you might face unnecessary challenges when it comes to the implementation of the recovery strategy.

5.) Do a dry run at least once a year

Your DRP shouldn’t end with the concept alone. No matter how foolproof you think your strategy is, if you haven’t tested it you most likely have missed something important.

It's during the dry run phase that the need for extra steps (or the removal of one) are made even more evident. You can then start polishing your strategies according to how your dry run plays out. It would also be a good year to practice your plan each year and update it accordingly.

These tips will help you ensure that your DRP will remain effective should a disaster occur. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to go about the process of creating a DRP, then give us a call now and we’ll help you with the process.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 19th, 2014

BCP_Feb17_ASmall to medium businesses continue to struggle when developing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. DRPs or Disaster Recovery Plans, can spell the difference between your business’s outright destruction when unforeseen calamities occur or a careful and systematic recovery to normal operations with little loss to operations or profits.

When creating a disaster recovery plan for your business, there are certain key elements that you need to consider.

Basics of a Disaster Recovery Plan

In building an effective disaster recovery plan, you should include thorough documentation that lays out the details of the ins and outs of the plan. You need to know that there is no right type of DRP, nor is there a single template that fits all. But there are three basic aspects to a disaster recovery plan: Preventive measures, detective measures, and corrective measures.

In addition, before building your disaster recovery plan, make sure that it can provide an answer to these basic questions:

  1. What is the objective and the purpose of making one?
  2. Who are the assigned team responsible when certain events occur?
  3. What is the framework and the procedure to be followed?

Plan for the worst case scenario

Since you’re planning for an unforeseen event, you might as well make sure that you have plan for the worst case scenario. That way, you’ll never be overwhelmed and you’re as prepared as you can be for any situation.

Having different tiers of backup plans is also advisable. It gives you a better assurance that when bad comes to worst, you have a system in place to make sure that these disasters are handled correctly, regardless of the disaster’s severity.

Data issues

One of the objectives of disaster recovery plan is to protect the collection of data. Almost half of the total population of business organizations experiences data loss from both physical and virtual environments. This is often due to corruption of the file system, broken internal virtual disks, and hardware failures. Thus, there is a real need for established data recovery plans such as backup features offered by many IT solution vendors.

Test-drive

Before deploying your disaster recovery plan, you need to have a sort of a test-drive to check if it works. Aside from making it work, you also need to know if it’s going to be effective. Through testing, any shortcomings can be identified and will garner corresponding resolutions to improve on your plan. Although the real score of its effectiveness can only be identified once a disaster occurs, at least you will have an idea of how your business and the recovery plan can operate during a disaster.

Building an effective disaster recovery plan is a must for your business. This might not directly lead to a positive impact on productivity but it will surely save you in the events that can possibly crush your business. Anticipating and adjusting for the things that might happen is one of the keys to a company’s success.

Setting up an effective DRP can be quite an intricate process since there are several elements that you need to consider. Should you want to learn more, give us a call and we’ll have our associates help you develop and test a plan that works best for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 22nd, 2014

BCP_Jan20_A2013 saw some interesting disaster conditions around the world. From a nearly US-wide cold snap, to flooding in numerous locations, and even the super typhoon that slammed into the Philippines, there was hardly any country not affected by a disaster of some form. In order to be able to recover from negative events many companies have adopted some form of disaster recovery plan. As we look forward to 2014, many business owners and managers are wondering what disaster recovery or business continuity trends they should be aware of.

Certain trends relevant to small to medium size businesses are vital for company leaders to be aware of in 2014:

Recovery will get even faster

When looking into recovery options, almost every company wants a solution that is as fast as possible. Recovery speed often depends largely on bandwidth and the storage method used. Each year, companies are able to access faster bandwidth connections and obtain more affordable, yet faster storage options.

In 2014, this trend is set to continue. Businesses around the world will continue to gain access to faster Internet connections and disaster recovery specialists will likely improve the speed with which they can implement a backup.

Many solutions will also be able to help businesses align or optimize their processes. ln turn, this will enable faster recovery and stronger protection. It's highly likely that with this combination you could see a business up and running again within hours instead of days.

Increased reliance on social media as a communications channel

During a disaster it can often be a challenge to communicate with employees and stakeholders. Traditional communication methods, like the phone, may not be working well, if at all, which make it more difficult for plans to be enacted. One alternative is to use social media to make contact and communicate.

Because most social media platforms are hosted in numerous locations around the world, they are hardly ever down. If you have an Internet connection, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be able to get a message out. Combine this with the fact that almost everyone has a social media account on at least one platform, and this proves to be a great option that allows you to reach people quickly.

We predict that in 2014 companies will realize this in higher numbers and begin to implement social media into their existing plans and even train employees on how to use this platform in an emergency situation where other communication lines are down.

Geographical based backup solutions

There were a number of high-profile disasters in 2013 that affected large areas. Some companies saw their backups and secondary backups wiped out because the location at which they were stored was situated in a disaster zone.

In order to have a truly effective backup solution, many experts are suggesting that multiple backups of data should be made and stored in multiple locations that are as geographically diverse as possible.

There is little doubt that businesses have learnt this lesson from the fate of either themselves or others, and will be implementing or looking for solutions that host backups in different locations more readily. In 2014, we predict that many providers will be marketing multi-location backups as a main feature. What this means for businesses is more secure backup and a higher chance of recovery when faced with disaster.

Growing reliance on managed backup solutions

As systems become increasingly complex they become more challenging for many small business owners to back up and manage at the same time. In 2014, there will likely be an increase in the demand for managed backup services.

These services are managed by an IT partner, who can not only help set up backup and recovery systems, but also support recovery after a disaster. The key here is that they give businesses of all sizes a way to implement a backup and continuity plan properly, at a fraction of the cost as was previously the case. We predict that small to medium businesses will take full advantage of services like this, and providers will begin to focus more on offering this type of service.

If you are looking for a backup solution, why not contact us. We may have something that will work for you. Give us a shout today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 25th, 2013

BCP_Dec23_ADisasters can strike at any time, and at any level of severity. From the deletion of a critical file, to your business being destroyed in a fire, you should be taking steps to prepare for potential disaster. In order to be prepared for a disaster, and to make it out the other side, many companies have been integrating their plans, with the two most popular being Disaster Recovery (DR) or a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). The question is how these two plans, that look at the same problem, differ.

What is a BCP?

BCP entered the mainstream just before the year 2000, with the Y2K scare. It's a plan that covers the way a business plans for and maintains critical business functions, directly before, during and after a disaster.

The majority of plans are comprised of activities that ensure maintenance, stability, and recoverability of service. The plan is typically set up on a day-to-day basis, and covers the whole organization. In other words, it's a plan on how to remain operational during and after a disaster.

The main reason companies implement a plan like this is because they wish to remain able to provide their service or product to customers. If something happens and you are not able to deliver to your customers, there is a risk that they will simply go to another company. This will obviously cause you to lose not only customers, but valuable income, some of which may be needed to further recovery.

What is DR?

Disaster Recovery is really more focused on what happens after a disaster. Many times, it's actually a part of the overall continuity plan. While BCP focuses on the whole business, DR plans tend to focus more on the technical side of the business. This includes components such as data backup and recovery, and computer systems.

It's best to think of a BCP as an umbrella policy, with DR as part of it. If companies don't have a DR component of their overall continuity plan, there is a good chance the whole strategy will be either less effective, or useless. On the other hand, DR can actually stand alone, and many companies can do just fine without a full continuity plan.

What should DR and BCP contain?

While these plans are slightly different, they do share the same common goals - to offer support and assistance during a disaster. Therefore, regardless of what type of plan you decide to adopt, there are common elements both need to incorporate in order to be successful.
  1. An operational plan for potential disasters that could happen in your geographical area.
  2. A succession plan for you or your top management.
  3. Employee training and cross-training. Your employees should know their role in the plan and be trained in other responsibilities should someone else be unable to perform their role.
  4. A communication plan that includes ways of communicating if networks are down.
  5. Off-site locations for staff and managers to meet and work.
  6. A focus on safety. Foster partnerships and communication with local and emergency response services. Ideally, all employees should at least know basic first aid. Employees who are members of local Emergency Response Teams make great team leaders.
  7. Daily backups of your systems and data. Be sure to also train staff in the testing and recovery of systems.
  8. Training and testing of all employees to practice recovery activities in realistic role-playing scenarios.
  9. Regular audits and updates of your plans to ensure they are still relevant and able to protect your systems and company.
With a plan that is carefully prepared, tested, and updated on a regular basis, you should be able to better weather any disaster. If you are looking for information on how to develop or improve your plans get in touch with us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 28th, 2013

BCP_Nov25_A
On November 8 the thirtieth typhoon of the 2013 typhoon season hit the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan is widely thought to be the most intense storm to make landfall in recorded history, leaving behind it flattened cities and over 4000 casualties. While disasters of this magnitude are statistically rare, companies should be taking steps to prepare their business for any disaster on any level. To many companies this means developing a business continuity plan, and technology can help ensure these plans are working.

Technology can help small to medium sized businesses develop and execute both disaster recovery and business continuity plans in many ways. Here are five:

1. It helps enable more efficient communication

The majority of business owners and employees now have smartphones, tablets and laptops that they use on a daily basis. What these devices have done is enable better communication, which is also a major part of a continuity plan.

With a multitude of chat apps like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and iMessenger, companies can set up group chats that can be accessed via multiple devices from nearly anywhere. This means that you can get information out fast, with a higher chance of reaching the people you need to during and after a disaster.

Combine this with virtualized systems like email and VoIP, both of which are usually hosted off-site and are highly likely to remain optional during a disaster, and you further boost the chances and effectiveness of communication.

2. It makes developing plans easier

Let’s face it, when developing a recovery or continuity plan, there is a ton of factors that you need to consider and actually plan for. These plans can get complicated and hard to track and manage very quickly, and any plan that is either overcomplicated or poorly managed runs the risk of failing when implemented.

This is why there are numerous well-designed software options that allow businesses to not only develop, but track, implement and share recovery and continuity plans with greater effectiveness than manual systems.

What’s more, is many of these solutions are created using industry standards and can often help you apply proven methods that may not have been previously possible.

3. It makes recovery easier and quicker

Traditional data backup systems require a physical backup like a hard drive or tape. When you do need to recover systems, it can take hours or days. Now, many IT partners offer cloud backup services which store your information in the cloud.

When you need to recover data, you can usually log on to any computer with an Internet connection and have your files and data back in a fairly short amount of time. This means that your company can return to as near full operation status as quickly as possible without much loss of time and consequently, profit.

4. It makes coordination during a disaster easier

As stated above, most professionals have multiple devices that allow them to connect with colleagues and customers with ease. Business owners therefore have a variety of quick and easy ways to try and connect to employees in a time of emergency, allowing for a higher chance of coordinating and executing a plan of action.

5. It helps minimize disruptions

By employing technical solutions like virtualization and cloud services, essentially moving services off site, you will be able to remain operational or recover quickly. This is largely because many solutions have redundant servers, so if one fails another can take over and still keep your systems available.

There are many ways technology can be employed in order to make planning for disasters and even recovering from them less challenging. If you are looking to learn more about how technology can help your business, get in touch.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 30th, 2013

BCP_Oct30_ABusiness is becoming increasingly complex, with the majority of systems and data now being stored online or on a computer. Because of this, a disaster such as one that knocks out power or even destroys your equipment could be devastating. Disasters put all business data at risk and that's why so many businesses take steps to protect their data. But there are still risks that they may miss.

If you are looking to protect your data, one of the best ways to do so is to be informed, and learn from the mistakes other companies make when they develop data protection or Business Continuity Plans.

1. Not backing up data It may seem like common sense when preparing for a disaster or developing a continuity plan that you should back up your data. However, a 2011 study from Semantic found that only half of businesses back up more than 60% of their data. Other businesses don't back up data or only back up certain systems. This means that if these businesses are faced with a disaster, they could lose up to 40% of their data. Some businesses could lose all of it.

Many experts suggest that businesses not only back up their data, but take more of an all-or-nothing approach. All data should be backed up so that should a disaster happen you can guarantee that nothing will be lost.

2. Failing to protect off site data Business is becoming increasingly spread out, with many employees working from outside of the office, or on their own systems. People who telecommute or use their own systems usually store important data on their local machines. When a company goes to protect or back up their data, some may forget to back up data on machines outside of the company premises.

What's more, some industries have regulations stating that you must back up data from all end-points (e.g., computers and devices) regardless of their location. So, when you are backing up data, be sure that you also back up data on systems that aren't in the office.

3. Not backing up data consistently The data in your business is always evolving and growing. Therefore, you need to ensure that it is backed up regularly. Because backups take time, there is a higher chance for them to fail. If you only back up once a year without checking, and disaster strikes, you could find that your data is incomplete, inaccessible or out of date. This may make any recovered data essentially useless.

The question is, how often should you back up your data? For most small businesses, a full backup at least once a week is suggested. If you work with client data on a regular basis or in a regulated industry, daily backups would likely be the best plan.

4. Using outdated backup methods Just because you back up your data doesn't mean it will always be available, especially if you use older backup methods such as data tapes or disks. These physical backups can be lost or even destroyed in a disaster and possibly even stolen. You may want to employ a more modern data backup solution that is more reliable, such as cloud backup.

That being said, you don't have to give up older methods as these can come in handy, especially if you are going to be operating without the Internet for an extended period of time. By employing more than one solution, you can cover all bases while ensuring that data is largely backed up and available.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can protect your data, please contact us today to see how our systems and solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 2nd, 2013

BCP_Sep30_ADisasters can happen at any time and be of any level of severity. For this reason, it is always advisable to implement a business continuity or disaster recovery plan. By having a plan, you stand a higher chance of surviving a disaster. However, if something negative does happen the key to remaining in operation is communication. This can be harder than it seems.

Here are five tips on how to ensure better communication during a disaster.

1. Have more than one way to communicate During a disaster, you have to assume that communications will be affected in some way. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your company has more than one way to communicate with employees and people outside of your organization.

This could include mobile phones that are used only for disasters, extra phone lines, VoIP, etc. The key here is to identify how potential disasters could affect communications and look for alternative methods or ways to communicate.

2. Coordinate responders During some disasters, it's not the communications themselves that cause further problems, but uncoordinated responders. In times of disaster, people react based on what they think will work best in the moment.

If you have not taken steps to ensure that all responders are on the same page, and know what they should be doing to not only carry out the recovery plan but also communicate, you could face a total breakdown.

When developing your strategy, take the time to ensure that the selected responders and communications leaders are up-to-date and are aware of what is expected of them and how they should go about communicating during a disaster. Cross-training employees so they can carry out other roles if necessary, can be a good back up too.

3. Coordinate responses During a disaster, you will have to communicate with parties outside of your business. This may be the media, shareholders or other businesses. If you have a disgruntled employee, or one who is not aware of the full situation when answering questions, the impact of the disaster could be exacerbated.

It is beneficial to develop standard responses and methods of responding during a disaster. As a small to medium business owner it is tempting to take on this role yourself. However, while you should definitely be a key person to respond to questions from parties outside of your business, having other people in place who can cover this role might help mitigate disaster.

4. Communicate outward In times of disaster it can be easy to forget that other people and businesses rely on you. If they are not fully aware of what is going on, there is a chance of compounding problems and even losing business.

When disaster strikes, your company should take steps to communicate with parties outside of your organization as to what is going on, what you are doing to fix the problem and if there is any help/changes you need. After all, the more people who are informed of the situation, the greater the chance that support will be available and more effective.

5. Be honest There is a temptation to put spin on a disaster within your organization and embellish the truth, or play it down so as to not make your business appear in a bad light. This could cause further problems though if important people find out that you have not been totally upfront and transparent.

All it would take is one employee mentioning a hidden fact to a friend and the truth could come out and potentially damage your brand reputation and possibly lose you business. Therefore, when communicating with outside parties and with your employees, be honest and open as to what is really going on. This will make communication easier, and could even help lessen the long-term impact of the disaster.

If you are looking for communications systems or disaster recovery plans that will help see you through any disaster, please contact us today to see how our solutions can support you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.