Harvey and Irma Make the Case for Cloud Backups (and Other Precautions) to Save Your IT in the Event of Disaster
“According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40% of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and for those that do, only 29% were still operating after two years. And guess what likely becomes of those that lost their information technology for nine days or more after a disaster? Bankruptcy within a year.”
Will Your Business Recover from Disaster? – Forbes
If a disaster like Harvey or Irma struck your business, how would you recover? If you aren’t sure, it’s time to consider disaster preparation. Preparation helps minimize damage in the wake of a disaster, saving you money long-term . . . and possibly even saving your business.
In this WOOF! we’ll go through 6 safety measures usable to protect your IT if a disaster hits. Most are also usable in other emergencies, such as a cyberattack.
First, a brief overview of what kind of damage disasters can do to your IT. Keep in mind, an IT disaster can be manmade or natural—both forms have long-lasting effects on your business.
The Disasters to Consider, and What They Do to Business’ IT
Disasters big enough to disrupt businesses generally fall within these categories. We ranked them in order of their risk to IT, from highest impact to lowest.
- Floods. From hurricanes to flash flooding to dam breaks, floods wreak havoc everywhere they go. Water typically renders all IT equipment useless. It’s almost impossible to recover data from a flooded computer.
What’s worse, floods also destroy network cables, Internet access, and cell towers, which means even a lucky survivor still can’t do business with anyone else!
- Fire. Fires will melt sensitive IT hardware. They can devastate a building’s wiring, computers, and servers. Sometimes it’s possible to recover data from burned computers, but only sometimes.
- Earthquakes. An earthquake can crush IT hardware under debris and render buildings unsafe for work use. Even if your business’ facility survives, the earthquake likely broke power lines and cut Internet access.
- Tornados. A tornado’s winds can topple over IT equipment, causing them to fail. You might even lose the hardware, if the tornado scoops it up! Even if your facility’s OK, the tornado will definitely tear down network cables, Internet access, and cell towers.
- Theft. A manmade disaster, theft can hurt a little or a lot. You’re at risk for loss of equipment, loss of onsite backups, loss of applications, and of course, loss of data.
- Infection. Malware & ransomware are both disasters. Ransomware can render computers & onsite backups useless, destroying data with no recourse. You’re also looking at severe damage to Active Directory security and GPOs, ruining other employees’ ability to work.
- Power Outage. A power outage can have many potential causes: cut power lines, hurricanes, earthquakes, even thunderstorms. Fortunately, outages only mean temporary loss of business operations. Unfortunately, the unexpected shutdowns and/or power surges can also corrupt data & damage IT hardware.
Safety Measures to Prepare Your IT for Disasters
Now that we know what disasters threaten your IT, let’s go through 6 safety measures you can take to protect against them.
- Cloud Backups: By far the most important safety measure you can take! Always keep 2 copies of your data in physically distinct locations. For example, we keep a backup of our Silicon Valley datacenter in another datacenter in Atlanta, GA.
If something like Harvey hit the Bay Area, we have a safe backup on the other side of the U.S. If we only had backups down the street from us, in a now-flooded facility? All the data is gone.
Also, include software (with their license keys) in your backups. That way you can reinstall local software, and access cloud services, following a restore.
- Backup Power: Invest in a backup power source, such as a generator.Floods, tornados, and earthquakes will often down power lines. A backup generator can at least temporarily restore critical power to servers, HVAC, and user workstations.
- Up-to-Date Inventory: Keep a full inventory of all IT hardware, software, licenses, and devices. It helps following a disaster, when you need to make insurance claims and replace business-critical IT hardware. Maintain your IT asset inventory on the cloud using asset management software such as Asset Tiger.
- Raised Floors: Raise the floor of your server room and/or network cabinet. It will protect these critical systems from floods. You may lose some wiring, but the important servers (and the data on them) are less likely to get wet.
- Emergency Communications: Implement a method for contacting staff & customers in the event of an emergency. What method you choose will depend on which communications tools you use day-to-day. But its use must immediately indicate that an emergency has occurred.
Possible methods include:
- A dedicated email account (e.g. email@example.com)
- A special Twitter account
- Texting from a phone number only used for emergencies
- Employee Cybersecurity Training: Guard against the manmade disasters! Employees should receive annual training on how to protect your company’s network from the every changing face of cybercrime. Workshops like PlanetMagpie’s own “Cybersecurity Kung Fu Training for Today’s Computer User” help employees understand the threats, and how to combat them.
Is YOUR IT Prepared for Disaster?
Like many of you, we are doing what we can to help those affected by the hurricanes. We would also like to see businesses prepared for the next disaster.
It may never come. But if it does, you’ll be glad these preparations are in place!
What IT disaster preparations have you made? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you think.