Category: Business Continuity

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4 Interesting Cloud Storage Trends to Watch for in 2022

One area of cloud computing that is used widely, but often isn’t as flashy as the software side is cloud storage. Storing files in the cloud to make them easily accessible and shareable from anywhere was one of the very first uses of the cloud that was adopted widely by many users.

As advances like automation and AI come to other types of cloud services, like team communications and business apps, cloud storage is not being left behind. The industry also continues to evolve to make storing data in the cloudless complex, more reliable, and better secured.

It’s estimated that in 2021, 50% of all company data was stored in the cloud. This is an increase of 15% from just five years earlier. With today’s hybrid teams that may be working from home and be hundreds or thousands of miles away from co-workers, it’s important to centrally locate files in cloud systems that can be accessed by everyone.

What can you expect to see in the cloud storage market this year? Here are some of the most interesting trends to keep an eye on.

1. Built-in Ransomware Defenses

Ransomware can impact data no matter where it is stored. Whether on a computer, server or in a cloud storage platform, this malware can encrypt the information and make it unreadable to the business that owns it.

In 2021, the average ransomware payment increased by 82% and ransomware incidents rose 64% during the first half of the year. A survey of CISOs found that over the last 18 months, 98% of organizations suffered a cloud data breach.

To combat ransomware, you’ll begin seeing cloud storage services offering ransomware recovery protection. This involves sophisticated systems that can help prevent files from being encrypted by code as well as those that take a copy of files and store it securely away, so files can be restored at the click of a button.

With ransomware showing no sign of stopping, this is a welcome addition in the cloud storage arena.

2. “The Edge” Becomes More Key in Cloud Storage

One of the new buzzwords of the last few years has been “Edge” or “Edge computing.” This means bringing data applications and storage resources geographically closer to the user that needs to connect to them.

As reliance on cloud storage and other cloud applications has increased, so has the need to improve response times from user to server. When data must travel across large distances, it becomes more difficult to quickly and economically deliver the best user experience. Thus, cloud service providers have been moving to an Edge computing model.

What this means for you is better reliability and faster response when accessing or searching on files because your provider is going to work to provide your service from one of the company’s cloud servers that is geographically closer to your location.

For companies with offices spread out around a country or throughout the world, this means that you’ll want to keep service location in mind when signing up for cloud storage and have a discussion with the provider about distance and how Edge computing factors in.

3. Expect More Help from AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning are making just about every area of technology smarter. Microsoft Word and text message apps now predict what you might type to help you fill in the blanks and type faster. Programs like Photoshop can crop around a person in an image in seconds using AI.

AI is also going to become more prevalent in cloud storage this year. You can expect help with automatic organization of your files based on your cloud storage patterns. 

Look for features designed to eliminate manual or repetitive tasks to free up more time. This includes AI helping to automate things like provisioning, obtaining, and importing data (known as “ingesting”), managing data retention, and more.

4. Legacy Vendors Begin Offering More Cloud Options

2022 is going to bring more cloud storage options coming from legacy technology providers. For example, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise recently introduced a new Data Services Cloud Console, and Dell Technologies just announced a new APEX multi-cloud design that it is working on to improve the cloud ecosystem.

More cloud storage options mean you may need more help deciding which model will work best for you, as pricing will vary widely. You don’t want to end up with more storage than you need or be paying a lot for a smaller amount of space.

It pays to keep on top of new offerings and understand that every new cloud storage option might not be a fit for your organization’s specific data storage needs.

Get Help Optimizing Your Cloud Storage & Backup Environment

Your business data is what runs your company, and it needs to be stored securely and in a way that’s accessible. Find out how we can help you optimize your cloud storage to improve cost efficiency.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Which Type of Hackers is Endangering Your Business Data? (And How to Protect Your Sensitive Info from Them)

Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business.

Cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients. 

Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk. 

Why?

Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets. 

As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data. It isn’t a risk you can take. 

To help mitigate it, this article will introduce you to the various types of hackers and explain how to protect your business from them.

THE 5 TYPES OF HACKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after:

#1. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER PERSONAL INFORMATION

Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers. 

Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches. 

In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems. 

#2. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET INTO THE DIGITAL  INFRASTRUCTURE

Storage and data servers are expensive – and hackers know that.

In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business. 

Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking. 

The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:

  • Running out of storage faster than usual
  • Your network suffers slowdowns 
  • You may have unknown devices on your network. 

#3. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience. 

A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales. 

#4. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET ACCOUNT DATA

Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure? 

If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations. 

For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations. 

This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation. 

#5. HACKERS WHO AIM TO HAVE NETWORK CONTROL

In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks. 

These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads. 

The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant. 

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

Now that you know how hackers can compromise your company, let’s check out 5 effective ways to protect yourself: 

WAY #1. INVESTING IN SECURITY RESOURCES

A key factor ignored by many owners is the amount of money and time devoted to cybersecurity. Avoid this mistake by allocating enough resources to set up solid defensive measures. Make sure to invest in a reliable IT service provider to help you out.

This way, your online accounts, hardware, and network should be more secure. 

WAY #2. TRAINING YOUR TEAM

Most security systems have weaknesses. And their employees are usually the biggest ones. 

For this reason, HR managers and CEOs should ensure their staff follows optimal security measures, both in-office and at home. They must all remember that any phone or laptop they use for work can be a weak point and entryway for hackers. 

To introduce your employees to the best security practices, consider arranging security education and training for a month once a year. You can talk about different aspects of your company and the steps necessary to deter cybercriminals, for example. 

Sound education can go a long way in promoting a healthy security culture. 

WAY #3. ADDING AUTHENTICATION

There are many valuable tools you can use to fend off hackers. One of them is two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple yet effective weapon against scammers. 

This measure requires each user to verify their identity to access your system. You could use it on all business-related accounts to reduce the chances of cybercrime. 

Furthermore, encourage your team members to activate 2FA on personal accounts. This way, they’ll be more likely to follow appropriate security practices, reducing the risk of compromised devices and data breaches. 

WAY #4. LEVERAGING SOFTWARE

Computer viruses are another go-to tool for hackers. And a great way to deal with them is to incorporate antivirus software. 

Make sure your built-in antivirus software is up to date. Also, you can consider a corporate package from trusted companies like BitDefender, Norton, McAfee, and Total AV. 

Each machine that can access work resources should rely on this software. Plus, the user should conduct weekly antivirus scans to lessen the chances of computers getting infected by a virus.

WAY #5. PERFORMING SECURITY CHECKS 

Checking your system is vital for optimal cybersecurity. Solid antivirus software is practical, but you shouldn’t disregard manual scans. It’s crucial that your IT service provider does this periodically.

More specifically, check who’s accessed your network and make sure each point of access is authorized. Any suspicious activity must be reviewed and rooted out. Otherwise, these red flags can prove fatal for the company. 

STAY ON THE SAFE SIDE 

Battling hackers may not be the most exciting part of running a business. However, neglecting cybersecurity turns your company into a sitting duck for scammers. You may lose money, data, and your reputation might suffer irreparable damage. 

While there isn’t a bulletproof solution, adopting the outlined tactics should be a strong starting point. 

Contact us today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks. We can arrange a quick, non-salesy chat and figure out ways to help you. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

The Critical Importance of Virtualized Infrastructure Security (And 4 Ways to Enhance It)

A torn-down virtual infrastructure creates risks for any business. And it can have a significant impact on how quickly you can retrieve your data and resume operations following an attack.

These days, many businesses use virtualized infrastructure for more straightforward data storage. It’s because this approach is superior to physical solutions due to enhanced flexibility, straightforward provisioning, and affordable pricing. 

However, this model also requires a comprehensive approach to security. 

There’s a much greater risk of data loss, as many tools and practices for physical data protection are nearly useless in the virtual setting. Virtual threats are different, that’s why you need to think beyond traditional perimeter protection. 

So, if you’re using a virtualized infrastructure for data storage, keep reading. 

This article discusses the risks of improper virtualized infrastructure security and talks about ways you can improve it. 

DON’T LEAVE YOUR VIRTUALIZED INFRASTRUCTURE TO CHANCE

Virtualization security is crucial for every business’s security strategy. After all, we now live in a world of virtualized environments and need to apply security to all its layers.

Let’s explore three of the most common virtualization security issues.

ISSUE #1. EXTERNAL ATTACKS

These are a real threat to virtualized infrastructure.

If hackers enter your host-level or server management software, they can easily access other crucial parts of your system. They can create a new user, assign admin rights, and then use that power to extract or destroy your company’s sensitive data.

ISSUE #2. FILE SHARING AND COPY-PASTING

Host and virtual machine (VM) sharing is normally disabled. The same goes for copy-pasting elements between the remote management console and the VM. You can tweak the default settings by tweaking the ESXi host system, but this action isn’t recommended. 

Why?

Because if a hacker gains access to your management console, they’d be able to copy data outside your virtual environment or install malware into your virtual machine.

ISSUE #3. VIRUSES

Virtual machines, or VM, are prone to many attacks, with ransomware being among the most popular ones. For this reason, it’s crucial to keep regular backups of your website data and store them off-site at a place where they can’t be encrypted by hackers. 

If you fail to perform backups, you may find yourself in a situation where hackers could ask you for money to decipher your data. 

Restoring a VM is quite tricky even if you perform regular backups. Therefore, you need to educate your team members on alleviating the risk of getting ransomware and other viruses.

Optimizing Your Virtualized Infrastructure Security

Now that you’re aware of the 3 common issues a business can face if they have an unprotected virtual infrastructure, here are 4 tips on bolstering its security.

TIP #1. MANAGING VIRTUAL SPRAWL

Virtual sprawls are often associated with growing virtual environments. The concept simply means that the more you expand, the bigger the need to keep your VMs secure. However, the number of machines can outgrow your ability to do so. 

To manage your virtual sprawl, consider doing the following:

  • Create an inventory of all your machines at all times
  • Set up lookouts featuring multi-location monitoring
  • Monitor IP addresses that have access to your VMs
  • Look for table locks
  • Don’t use database grant statements to give privileges to other users
  • Keep both on- and off-site backups
  • Assess your virtual environment regularly and determine which machines you need and which ones aren’t necessary
  • Have a central log of your systems and log all hardware actions
  • Create a patch maintenance schedule for all machines to keep them up to date

<H3>TIP #2. FOCUSING ON VIRTUAL CONFIGURATION SETUP</H3>

If you use virtual servers, you risk major configuration defects. 

That’s why it’s essential to make sure initial setups are free from security risks. This includes unnecessary ports, useless services, and similar vulnerabilities. Otherwise, all your virtual machines will inherit the same problems. 

The truth is that many businesses have poor virtual network configurations. You can avoid being one of those by ensuring all virtual applications that call the host (and vice versa) have proper segmentation. This includes databases and all web services. 

It’s also worth mentioning that most virtualization platforms only offer three switch security settings: forged transmits, MAC address changes, and promiscuous mode. There’s no protection for virtual systems that connect to other network areas. 

So, make sure to investigate each virtualization platform that allows this kind of communication, including all memory leaks, copy-paste functions, and device drivers. You can also tweak the system monitoring assets to look out for these pathways. 

TIP #3. SECURING ALL PARTS OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE

It’s imperative that you properly secure all of your infrastructure’s parts. This includes its physical components (switches, hosts, physical storage, routers) and virtual and guest systems. Don’t forget about all your cloud systems as well. 

When it comes to protecting different infrastructure parts, here are some things you can do:

  • Install the latest firmware for your hosts. Virtualized infrastructure needs to have the latest security patches. So, keep all your VMware tools updated. 
  • Your active network elements such as routers, switches, and load balancers should use the latest firmware.
  • Patch all operating systems with automatic updates. Schedule patch installations outside of your work hours and include automatic reboots. 
  • All virtualized environments should have reliable anti-malware and antivirus software installed (and regularly updated). 

TIP #4. HAVING A ROBUST BACKUP PLAN

Proper disaster recovery (DR) and backup plans are crucial in ensuring your business can continue operating after an attack. It’s because both your physical and virtual components can equally suffer from damage done by hacker attacks, hurricanes, etc. 

Ideally, you want to have a DR site located at a faraway data center or in the cloud. This way, you’ll alleviate the risk of being shut for a long time if your vital data gets compromised. 

Also, make sure to back up your VMs and your physical servers. Fortunately, you can back up your physical systems that operate on Windows or Linux, as well as your VMs that run on any OS. 

Additionally, you want to make at least three copies of your data and store two of them in different virtual places. And make sure to keep one backup off-site. 

If you want to take things to another level, you can replicate your VMs to a different data center for emergencies. 

PRIORITIZE THE SECURITY OF YOUR VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURE 

If you never gave much importance to virtualized infrastructure security, doing so should be your priority now. Given the number of possible threats, protecting your VMs from unauthorized data sharing, viruses, and other types of attacks is crucial. 

All aspects of your physical and virtual components need to be protected to avoid issues. If this topic is all Greek to you, you’re not alone. The reality is that many business owners have struggled with the same problem. 

However, you can reach out to us for a 10-15-minute chat where we can discuss how you can bring the security of your virtualized infrastructure to the next level. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Lead Your Business More Effectively by Implementing Unified Communications

Unified communications are a go-to solution for business owners looking to streamline their businesses and increase employee productivity in the long term. See how it benefits your business.

Providing high-quality communication channels is crucial for any company. After all, it promotes cross-department collaboration and faster exchange of ideas.

Since phones often don’t suffice for this, many business owners turn to unified communications.

But what exactly is unified communication?

This article explains just that. Read on to discover the main concepts of this approach and how you can use it to help your business achieve success.

WHAT IS UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS?

Unified communications is an all-in-one platform that unifies phone, video, screen sharing, chat, and file management into a single space. It’s a ready-to-use system that allows for seamless communication in numerous ways.

The system operates as a cloud, making it easily accessible to all team members with access to the internet.

But why should anyone consider switching to unified communications?

There are several reasons, but this is the most crucial:

Business leaders who adopt it would be able to impact their business every day and make it seamless for employees to interact with each other.

That said, we’ll list 5 of the key features of this concept to help you better understand how it can help you scale your business.

THE 5 FEATURES

FEATURE #1. MOBILITY

When connected to unified communications, all employees can stay connected at all times and from all locations. It doesn’t matter whether they’re working from home, vacationing on a remote island, or sitting in the office. They’ll still be able to chat, receive calls, and more.

FEATURE #2. UNIFIED MESSAGING

This allows employees to handle different message types using a single tool. They can easily switch communication modes, depending on their needs.

FEATURE #3. CONFERENCING

Whenever you need conferencing tools, you’ll have them in the palm of your hand. You can allow a group of teammates or customers from outside your organization to connect and speak via video or audio from different locations.

FEATURE #4. FAX SUPPORT

Faxes received through unified communications appear as email attachments. This way, users can also receive faxes on their desktops and smartphones.

FEATURE #5. PRESENCE

This feature lets other users know each other’s status. That means you’ll be able to see when someone is online (Active), busy (Do Not Disturb), or away (Out of the Office).

HOW UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS HELP BUSINESS LEADERS

So, what are the benefits of using unified communications in your business?

Let’s explore 6 of them below.

BENEFIT #1. HIGHER TEAM PRODUCTIVITY

It’s important for a business owner to boost their team’s workflow and eliminate bottlenecks. Because once they get to do so, productivity will drastically improve.

This can be done thanks to unified communications.

This type of communication makes it easier for team members to save time on various tasks, including:

  • Faster file sharing that gets rid of email threads for teamwork
  • Ability to receive calls from any location
  • Ability to receive voicemails and faxes directly in the email
  • Single-click video meetings for emergencies

Teams with access to such technologies can be more effective and get more tasks done in a single day. It also helps get rid of communication challenges.

BENEFIT #2. LOWER COMMUNICATION COSTS

Legacy phones and on-site communication tools often cost more than your IT budget should allow.

On the other hand, unified communication relies on the internet for all its activities. This means your phone system turns to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and integrates with the rest of the tools. This approach eliminates the need for server and hardware infrastructure creation.

Unified communications also make it super easy to add new users. You can simply do so via an easy-to-use dashboard without having to make service calls.

Finally, the cost of unified communications is the same every month. There won’t be any surprises to your budget.

BENEFIT #3. ENHANCED CUSTOMER SERVICE

Whether or not a company is successful greatly depends on the quality of its customer service.

With unified communications, your employees can provide great customer service easier. After all, they can respond to client queries regardless of their location. It’s because all chats, incoming calls, and emails are visible from any device.

You can also integrate all your CRM software on the platform for added benefits.

For example, when a person contacts your business, the person in charge can see all the necessary information and notes related to that client. In the end, they can help them solve issues faster.

BENEFIT #4. EMPOWERING A REMOTE WORKFORCE 

Thousands of companies have switched to remote work over the past few years. There are plenty of benefits to this approach after all.

However, a constant concern here is ensuring that remote workers have all the tools they need for work.

Thanks to unified communications, all communication aspects are included in a single platform. This means that all your remote worker needs is a stable internet connection to get access to your network and all the features, just like the rest of the team.

BENEFIT #5. INCREASING ORGANIZATIONAL AGILITY

When you increase your team’s productivity, the same follows for the entire organization. The organizational agility reflects the strategic value of unified communications. And the results you achieve impact your business as a whole.

So, to see how this approach benefits your work, you must view unified communications from the management side as well.

Sure, communication has a utilitarian role for management. But when that communication drives productivity, streamlines workflow, and leads to enhanced business outcomes, it’s where you really get to see its value.

BENEFIT #6. ENHANCED SECURITY 

The security aspect is crucial for every business. And unified communications enhance the security of a business by integrating all applications into a single platform.

As a result, it becomes straightforward for the IT team to apply specific security policies across all apps. It’s also easier for them to manage security patches and compliance updates since all applications share the same protocols.

REALIZING THE POWER OF UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS

Streamlining the processes inside an organization is extremely important in improving the overall performance of its employees. And unified communications allow you to do just that. 

With it, you can boost your customer experience and make your team more efficient by integrating your whole communications system into a single platform. 

Unified communications will let you and your team make calls, host conferences, send emails, receive faxes, and chat from a single, unified space to make your job (and life) easier. 

If you’d like to learn more about implementing unified communications in your business, we’d be happy to help. Reach out to us and we can have a 10-15-minute chat to discuss this topic further. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

What Is an MSP (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)

Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That’s why many organizations turn to MSPs.

Digitalization has forced businesses to alter their operations and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. Still, some owners can’t cope with the change effectively, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work. 

But what exactly is an MSP? 

Simply put, this is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business, such as your IT or cloud needs. It provides technology and expertise to boost your organization’s scalability. 

Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise. 

For instance, their profound understanding of cutting-edge technology can help you improve performance, operations, and security while reducing overheads. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world. 

But the strongest suit of any MSP is usually their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your company perfectly. 

Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they consider the regulatory environment and compliance to safeguard against legal issues. 

Another great thing about MSPs is that they can support your business even after hours. 

They offer support measures and staff to maintain and protect your organization 24/7. MSPs can even tap into your system to resolve issues and deploy updates without going to your office using remote technology. 

Overall, MSPs can help take your company to the next level. However, you can’t work with just any service provider. You need to select the right team for your enterprise, and this article will show you how.

CHOOSING AN MSP – WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Hiring an MSP shouldn’t be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account.

Here are the six important factors to keep in mind: 

FACTOR #1. THE MSP’S TRACK RECORD

Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate they’re suitable for your business. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements. These will help you determine if the team has been operating for a while and if their reputation is solid. 

Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you’ll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its name. 

The MSP’s success hinges on yours in some respect, which is why they’ll view you as a valuable partner. 

FACTOR #2. THE RANGE OF SERVICES IT PROVIDES

MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle. 

Therefore, consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them. 

Regardless of your service package, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and allow the competition to prevail over you.

FACTOR #3. SUPPORT

As previously indicated, MSPs can work round the clock to ensure your business is compliant and maintained adequately. However, they should also increase their support quickly and adjust staff schedules as your company grows. 

That’s why you should consider an MSP that offers training for your employees.

It lets them understand the necessary changes and encourages them to train other team members as they join your business. But if your employees are too busy, you can instruct the MSP to carry out all the training.

FACTOR #4. RESPONSE TIME

Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can even cripple your reputation, customer base, and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, it can even make you shut down your business. 

Fortunately, a high-quality MSP can help you avoid this scenario. They can identify threats to your system and neutralize them before hurting your company. 

Moreover, if an incident takes place, they should respond immediately. They need to mitigate the risks as soon as possible to keep your organization from crumbling.

FACTOR #5. SECURITY AND BACKUP

One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Besides, safe data storage might be mandatory in your industry, which is why your IT department could use all the help they can get. 

Once you work with an MSP, they should recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues. 

Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software. It enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy. 

With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand.

FACTOR #6. GUIDANCE ON WORKFLOW OPTIONS 

Your MSP shouldn’t just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape. 

For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments. 

The fact is, you can yield tremendous results from their guidance. Your team can work faster, collaborate in real-time, and be more tech-savvy. 

RECRUIT YOUR MSP CAREFULLY

While price is important when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure they’re a perfect fit for your enterprise, even if you need to pay more. 

With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team can help you stay ahead of your competitors. 

If you need more assistance choosing your MSP, get in touch with our experienced team. Let’s schedule a quick 15-minute chat and figure out the ideal MSP for your company.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Creating an IT Compliance Policy – The 7 Things You Need to Consider

Conducting business operations in the digital world is prone to security risks. Mitigating them would be impossible if you don’t have an IT compliance policy.

Setting up a robust IT compliance policy in your business is more important now than ever. And it’s because most organizations now depend on digitized services. 

Online companies rely on e-commerce websites to do business by taking orders and receiving payments. Even brick-and-mortar organizations utilize software to perform various activities, such as order management and back-office accounting. 

In such tech-driven environments, a lack of proper security measures jeopardizes the business leader’s position. Their IT systems get abused, and their technology often becomes a source of scandals. 

The only way to avoid this possibility is to create a strong IT compliance policy. 

This article will cover key considerations when developing your system of IT compliance.

WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER FOR IT COMPLIANCE POLICIES

FACTOR #1 – PEOPLE, PROCESSES, AND HOW THEY ALIGN TO TECH

IT compliance isn’t just about technology – it also involves people and processes. And the reality is that many organizations focus heavily on their tech, resulting in failed audits due to their failure to consider the other two aspects. This makes the compliance world more complex. 

Taking the correct approach can help ensure your enterprise abides by the necessary standards. 

FACTOR #2 – RELEVANT LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Laws and regulations stipulate the policies that govern IT compliance requirements. Here are the most common ones: 

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act – regulating financial reporting
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – governing non-public personal information and financial data
  • The Health Insurance and Accountability ACT – regulating health information that healthcare organizations process

Ultimately, you can’t start your compliance process without understanding the laws and regulations applicable to your organization.

You should also ascertain the controls that apply to these laws and regulations. They are process-oriented and technical means to adhere to your policies. 

There are various industry and government standards that specify them, including: 

  • Control Objectives for Information and Related IT 
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology 
  • Payment Card Industry Data 

These can have a massive bearing on your sector. Therefore, make sure to familiarize yourself with all relevant controls.

FACTOR #3 – RAISING EMPLOYEE AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE POLICY

One of the biggest threats to your data security is having untrained employees. Their actions can have a huge impact on cybersecurity. For instance, improper software upload, sharing, download, and storing can jeopardize critical information.

The reality is, many employees opt for insecure data transfer methods due to their convenience. Some of the tools they use are personal emails, consumer-grade collaboration apps, and instant messaging. All of these are ideal targets for cybercriminals. 

To prevent your business from becoming a victim, your users must learn and understand where various threats originate from. They should especially understand the actions that can give rise to vulnerabilities. 

Making file sharing a top priority and investing in proper education demonstrates the significance of IT compliance. Your efforts can help team members willing to adopt the best practices in this field. 

When developing your training plan, make sure to include several key topics: 

  • How insecure file transfer methods expose your company to risks 
  • Avoiding phishing scams
  • Precautions to exercise before using or downloading unsanctioned applications
  • The conditions for using and creating strong passwords.

FACTOR #4 – HOW YOUR IT POLICY ALIGNS WITH THE COMPANY’S SECURITY POLICIES

Aligning IT compliance with your business operations involves understanding the culture of your organization. For example, your environment can revolve around either processes or ad-hoc ways of doing things. 

Enterprises aligning with the former are best off issuing in-depth policies to ensure compliance. 

By contrast, companies that match the latter require detective and preventive controls. They need to address specific risks associated with your policy. It helps various auditors understand why you’ve deployed a particular control or decided to face certain risks. 

FACTOR #5 – UNDERSTANDING OF THE IT ENVIRONMENT

IT environments directly affect your IT policy compliance design. That said, there are two main kinds of environments: 

  • Homogeneous environments – These consist of standardized vendors, configurations, and models. They’re largely consistent with your IT deployment. 
  • Heterogeneous environments – The other type uses a wide range of security and compliance applications, versions, and technologies. 

Generally, compliance costs are lower in homogeneous environments. Fewer vendors and technology add-ons provide less complexity and fewer policies. As a result, the price of security and compliance per system isn’t as high as with heterogeneous solutions.

Regardless of your environment, your policy needs to appropriately tackle new technologies, including virtualization and cloud computing. 

FACTOR #6 – ESTABLISHMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY

IT policy compliance doesn’t function without accountability. It entails defining organizational responsibilities and roles that determine the assets individuals need to protect. It also establishes who has the power to make crucial decisions. 

Accountability begins from the top and encompasses executives. And the best way to guarantee involvement is to cast IT policy compliance programs in terms of risks instead of technology. 

As for your IT providers, they have two pivotal roles: 

  • Data/system owners – The owner is part of your management team that’s responsible for data usage and care. Plus, they’re accountable for protecting and managing information. 
  • Data/system custodians – Custodial roles can entail several duties, such as system administration, security analysis, legal counseling, and internal auditing. 

These responsibilities are essential for IT policy compliance. For example, auditors need to carefully verify compliance activity execution. Otherwise, there’s no way to ensure the implementation is going according to plan.

FACTOR #7 – AUTOMATION OF THE COMPLIANCE PROCESS

Your IT continually evolves and grows. Internal auditors can only review a small number of user accounts and system configurations. 

Automation is the only way to ensure you can evaluate enough systems regularly. 

BREEZE THROUGH YOUR BUSINESS’S IT COMPLIANCE

Setting up well-designed IT compliance may be a long process, but it can make a world of difference in terms of business security. It keeps your business reputation intact and allows you to avoid penalties and fines. 

However, you’ll need to pay special attention to several aspects. And one of the most significant ones is your IT provider. 

If your IT isn’t living up to its potential, you’re bound to face compliance issues. This can cause tremendous stress and halt your operations. 

Luckily, there might be an easy way out of your predicament. Schedule a quick chat with us to discuss your IT problems and find out how to get more out of your provider.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

The Five Steps for Creating a Business Continuity Plan

How will your business respond when faced with an unexpected situation? With a business continuity plan, you’ll know exactly what steps to take.

Leading a small business is a challenging endeavor.

According to a January 2021 article published by Entrepreneur, 20% of small businesses fail within their first year of operation. And a staggering 50% fail within five years.

There are many potential issues for these failures, ranging from cash flow problems to leadership challenges. But one of the key issues revolves around a company’s ability to deal with the unexpected.

When a situation doesn’t play out in your favor, how does your business respond?

If you don’t have an answer, you place yourself at risk of adding to the above statistics. The good news is that a business continuity plan (BCP) is the ideal leadership tool that will help you prepare for the unexpected.

WHAT IS A BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLAN?

BCPs are a set of predefined protocols and strategies that define how your business will respond in the case of a disaster or emergency. Think of it as a collection of backup plans that tell you exactly what you need to do when the worst happens.

A BCP should encompass every aspect of your organization, from your tech departments to what happens with human resources and your key assets. It should also contain a list of protocols that define how you respond in the event of any of the following situations:

  • Natural disasters
  • Equipment failures
  • Financial or cash flow issues
  • Man-made disasters

The goal of any BCP is to ensure the high availability of required resources, thus enabling continuous operation and disaster recovery following an emergency. 

They’re important because failure to plan can prove extremely costly. According to figures shared by IBM, infrastructure failures cost businesses an average of $100,000 per hour. A good BCP mitigates these costs by minimizing the effects of these failures on the business.

THE FIVE STEPS FOR BUILDING A BCP

Now that you understand the importance of having a BCP, it’s time to create one for your business. Follow these steps to ensure your BCP is as comprehensive as possible.

STEP #1 – PERFORM IN-DEPTH RISK ASSESSMENTS

Start by creating a list of every possible risk that your business may face. This list should include risks related to all of the following areas:

  • Industry
  • Geographical
  • Trends and Market Movements
  • Stakeholders
  • Employees
  • Business Infrastructure

Once you have completed your list, work through it to prioritize the risks based on their likelihood of impacting your business. 

For example, a company based in an area that’s prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, may place a higher priority on this risk than they would issues related to stakeholders.

Your prioritized list tells you which issues to focus on first when creating your BCP.

STEP #2 – IDENTIFY CRITICAL FUNCTIONS AND CREATE RECOVERY PLANS FOR EACH

Once you understand the risks, it’s time to focus on the impact that those risks coming to fruition might have on the business. 

To do this, create a list of the critical functions your business needs to be able to undertake to deliver its products or services. Then, examine how each potential risk could impact each function. 

When you find a function that would get affected by one of the risks, build a recovery plan for that function. This plan may involve creating backups of crucial data, enabling employees to work from home, or maintaining a secondary location or backup hardware stock.

Repeat this process for each critical function, identifying the level of risk it faces and what you need to have in place to ensure swift recovery of the function in the event of an incident.

STEP #3 – DEFINE EMERGENCY ROLES

Your employees are just as important in your response to an emergency as your recovery plans. And often, it’s the rapid action of your people that enables you to put your plans in place.

With this in mind, spend some time assigning roles to key staff members for each potential situation you’ve identified. Define who will act as an emergency coordinator and what they will need to do in this position. 

In some cases, preparing for emergencies may require you to train staff members or obtain specific licenses. Your plan may also include protocols for staff reallocation, especially if your business has several locations.

The main point here is that your people need to know what they have to do when an emergency situation occurs in your company.

STEP #4 – DOCUMENT YOUR PLAN

No BCP can be effective if it resides solely in the leader’s head. After all, one of the issues identified may be the loss of the leader to an accident or something else. 

As such, you must document your BCP so that others can access and follow it when needed. Make sure to store the BCP in a secure off-site location, as this reduces the risk of the plan being lost or damaged in the event of a disaster.

STEP #5 – TEST THE BCP REGULARLY

No situation is static and new issues will appear that cause you to revisit your BCP. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the BCP remains consistent with the current risks and capacity of the business at all times.

It’s worth creating an emergency preparedness team that revisits the BCP regularly. 

You should also test the BCP for its consistency whenever a significant change occurs in your industry, such as the introduction of new regulations. Perform regular tests to identify gaps in the plan

A BCP PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS

Business leadership involves more than the ability to build and inspire teams. You also need to focus on protecting your business so that your teams are capable of doing what you need them to do in any situation.

That’s what a BCP allows you to do.

A good BCP defines every protocol to follow in the event of an emergency. By building one, you put yourself in a better position to lead your business through any crisis.

Of course, building a BCP is not simple, especially for smaller businesses that have limited resources. If you’d like help with building yours or wish to discuss any other aspect of business leadership, please schedule a 15-minute consultation with our team today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

The 8 Key Mistakes That Can Cripple Your Business Continuity Plan

The only way to continue your operations in case of setbacks is to enforce a well-thought-out business continuity plan. However, you’ll need to avoid several mistakes when developing your strategy.

Your operations may seem efficient and failproof, but the reality is that obstacles can happen at any time. Whether you’ve lost a major client or can’t achieve good team dynamics, it’s essential to keep going. 

That’s where your business continuity plan (BCP) comes into play. 

Your BCP outlines how your company will continue its operations during unplanned service disruptions. It’s more detailed than disaster recovery plans and features contingencies for processes, human resources, assets, and partners. It can also include checklists for equipment and supplies, data backups, and information on emergency responders. 

The contents may vary, but a BCP can help you overcome various issues and re-establish productivity to meet critical needs. However, the only way to reap the benefits of your BCP is to avoid making mistakes in the development stage. 

This article will outline the eight biggest mistakes you need to avoid when creating your business continuity plan.

THE EIGHT MISTAKES

MISTAKE #1 – DISREGARDING YOUR EMPLOYEES

Organizations who want to get back on track after an unexpected incident should focus on the needs of their employees when devising a BCP. Otherwise, they may be running serious safety risks. 

So, plan for every situation that can affect your employees during disruptions. The list includes emergency communication protocols, evacuation routes, and many other key details. In doing so, you’ll ensure your team has all they need to weather the storm. 

Moreover, discuss the plan with your staff and elicit their input in critical safety matters. You can also tell them you’ll be there for support if a crisis takes place. This gives them peace of mind, knowing their leader cares about them. 

MISTAKE #2 – NOT CONSIDERING SMALL DETAILS

After creating a general BCP, many enterprises fail to think about specific details that ensure they can execute their plan. This is a huge mistake, as it can result in loss of data. 

The minor points you should incorporate into your BCP include logistical considerations, such as technology and medical aid support. 

For example, informing your medical providers about the plan is crucial because it enables them to make their arrangements on time. You should also tell your key personnel who to contact if they need medical assistance during accidents. Another great idea is to determine how your team can access data securely if they can’t make it to their office. 

Taking the smallest details into account can protect your data and even save your staff’s lives. Therefore, don’t leave the development to chance – go through the BCP regularly to make sure it’s effective and up to date.

MISTAKE #3 – FAILURE TO SHOW YOUR STAFF HOW THE PLAN WORKS

While many leaders brood on downtime, they often fail to demonstrate to their team members how to execute the plan and minimize productivity decrease. 

As previously indicated, your employees are integral to the efficacy of your BCP. And the only way to perform their roles correctly is to become well-versed in the plan. 

To ensure this, explain how the staff should respond during crises. Tell them how to handle their clients if your systems go down. Don’t forget about the location and schedules that will be effective while the main office is off-limits. 

The final part is to have your team practice these tasks so they can complete them more easily when disasters strike. 

MISTAKE #4 – PRIORITISING OPERATIONAL CONTINUITY OVER TEAM SAFETY

When accidents occur, it’s understandable why business owners focus on assessing the effects on their business. Nevertheless, considering operational continuity only and neglecting your staff’s safety well-being can have dire consequences. 

Your people are crucial to executing your BCP appropriately, so check on them first. Data plans that nobody can facilitate are useless, regardless of their effectiveness. 

You have to make sure your staff is safe and reachable after a crisis. The crisis management task force should be able to contact them easily and see if they can help them. 

This will help guarantee your team can bounce back after an accident and go back to work quickly. 

MISTAKE #5 – HAVING IMPROPER TECH SOLUTIONS

Waiting for natural disasters to strike before establishing toll-free hotlines for your employees is a huge mistake. Likewise, failure to set up data backups might render your systems useless in case of data breaches. 

If you have no proper technology to mitigate accidents, you could be exposing your business to higher risks, revenue loss, and prolonged downtime. 

To avert this, consult technology specialists or your IT sector to verify your system has all features and components that can keep your networks intact. Such a system should allow you to streamline communications, minimize downtime, and secure your workloads. 

MISTAKE #6 – ONLY ONE PERSON MANAGES THE PLAN

Developing a BCP all by yourself is possible, but it’s also more prone to error. A much better approach is to gather people across all your departments to account for all contingencies. Otherwise, you’ll restrict your team’s insight into all the processes and risks under your plan. 

Forming a BCP management team that involves multiple functions and departments offers a company-wide perspective to your planning. This diversity can help resolve problems and streamline your strategy. 

MISTAKE #7 – USING BROAD GENERALIZATIONS

Continuity plans with broad generalizations often lead to uncertainty and confusion. A BCP needs to be concise and, if possible, explain each detail in short steps. Such forms enable anyone to understand the directions and visualize their roles. 

MISTAKE #8 – SKIPPING RISK ASSESSMENT

Risk assessments are a critical step that must take place before developing your BCP. As the name suggests, they can you help discover the potential risks in your area. 

Depending on the size of your organization, location, and activities, your company faces different risks. For example, there’s no need to plan for disaster recovery after a hurricane if your region isn’t prone to them. It would only increase your costs and waste time. 

DON’T LET YOUR OPERATIONS GRIND TO A HALT

A detailed BCP goes a long way in improving your response to disasters. Avoiding the above-mentioned mistakes will put you on the right track and help your staff cope with new conditions more easily. 

If you need help in creating your BCP, give us a call today. Let’s have an obligation-free chat to determine how we can help you. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Enhance Your Server Management with These 8 Tips

You may have state-of-the-art servers, but their efficiency can diminish over time. Managing them is key to optimizing your business operations.

Numerous organizations rely on servers for various IT functions, such as applications, emails, hosting websites, and data storage. 

Although many companies have turned to cloud-based services using remote data centers, many enterprises still depend on in-house servers. As such, they need to ensure their devices remain in tip-top condition

That’s where server management comes into play. 

Managing your servers can streamline the performance of your team by allowing them to complete complex tasks faster. Plus, it can enable them to detect problems early on before they get out of hand and compromise your business. As a result, the risk of experiencing operational setbacks is drastically lower. 

But the only way to make the most of your server management is to perform it correctly. And to help you do so, this article will share nine tips on improving your server management. 

THE 8 TIPS

TIP #1 – MOUNT THE SERVERS PROPERLY

Small businesses often need to prioritize immediate concerns over long-term plans because they need to work on tight budgets. This is particularly evident in terms of server management. 

When you first set up your servers, it might be tempting to connect them near your workstations. However, this can harm your hardware. 

Mounting your servers in racks is a much better solution. It can shield them from accidents in high-traffic areas, tripping hazards, spills, and dirt. 

Furthermore, server racks can help keep the hardware safe by organizing it in an accessible area that facilitates management and cleaning. They also limit the exposure to regular wear and tear in the office. 

Another critical consideration is to plan for the future when installing your servers. 

When selecting a rack mount, be sure there’s enough room to expand your hardware. Unless your office is tiny, having half-empty racks is preferred to tearing them down and redesigning them a few years down the line.

TIP #2 – SEPARATE YOUR SERVERS FROM YOUR MAIN AREA

Depending on the type of servers, they can get quite noisy when in operation. On top of that, they can comprise valuable hardware. So, you’ll want to separate them physically from the working premises. 

If you can’t afford a designated server room, invest in secure rack mounts with integrated sound reduction. 

TIP #3 – TAKE CARE OF YOUR HARDWARE

Hardware maintenance plays a pivotal role in server management. Without dependable hardware, your productivity can plunge. 

To avoid this scenario, you need to monitor the essential components of your server: 

  • CPU (Central Processing Unit) – Your CPU is the core of your servers, performing all calculations for running programs. You need to constantly monitor it to prevent overuse. If it operates near 100% of its power, your team members can’t carry out additional tasks due to slowdowns. It may require chip upgrades or performance tuning to alleviate the stress. 
  • RAM (Random Access Memory) – This is the working memory of your server, as it runs faster than hard disks. The more RAM you have, the higher the performance of your device. Closely monitor its usage and add more memory when it gets close to its full capacity. 
  • Hard drive – The hard drive is the permanent storage of your servers. It saves your data and programs, but its performance can diminish with overuse. Proper hard disk management entails keeping track of the available space, deleting unnecessary files, installing new drives, or including cloud-based solutions.

TIP #4 – EMPLOY FREQUENT COOLING

You expect your servers to perform fast, but the only way to ensure this is to provide optimal conditions. That said, you should primarily focus on cooling the servers. Excess heat can dramatically decrease their lifespan. 

The best practice here is to make sure your cooling device operates outside your building. 

Additionally, if you experience a power outage or central air doesn’t work at night, you need a cooling solution that can run on backup power.

TIP #5 – MANAGE AND MAINTAIN YOUR SOFTWARE

Software used for your server requires regular maintenance, too. The key is to perform regular updates and delete old software to enhance performance. Your servers will operate better, and there will be fewer vulnerabilities cybercriminals can exploit to access your network.

TIP #6 – ARRANGE THE WIRING NEATLY

The amount of wiring in your server setup can be overwhelming, especially if you have no technical experience. Sorting out the mess doesn’t only improve cleanliness, but it can also help boost the performance of your server viability for future upgrades. 

Keep in mind that whenever you’re removing, rearranging, or installing your cables, label and group them neatly. Doing so helps prevent clutter.  

TIP #7 – PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SECURITY

As previously mentioned, servers can be susceptible to cyberattacks. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a secure system. Here’s what you should do: 

  • Install and update antivirus software. 
  • Repel unauthorized traffic with firewalls. 
  • Use robust access control software or sound password policies and instruct your users to change them regularly. 
  • Encrypt external networks and data storage. 
  • Incorporate SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools. 
  • Analyze and implement security logging measures to understand potential threats. 

TIP #8 – BACK UP YOUR DATA

The final part of robust server management is backing up your data regularly. After all, loss of information can be disastrous, harming your reputation and losing your customers. 

Besides backing up server software and hardware, you should also have a backup for your power supply to prevent data losses during power outages. Moreover, you can integrate with various tools to expedite backups, recoveries, and status monitoring. 

Look for software that covers both your IT architecture and operating system. It needs to work across systems and applications you currently have or plan on installing. Additionally, it should diagnose server issues efficiently with powerful analytic capabilities. 

SERVER MANAGEMENT AT ITS FINEST

Managing effective server operation involves several key considerations, from monitoring system temperature to updates and data backups. Even though this can be an arduous process, it’s integral to optimizing your server performance and eliminating security concerns. 

If you need help in optimum server management in your business, we’d love to help you out. Contact us and let’s have a quick, no-obligation chat about it.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Why Having a Continuity Plan Is a Sign of Great Leadership (And How to Create a Foolproof Plan)

Your business faces all sorts of threats that can disrupt your operations. A comprehensive continuity plan can help address them.

Carrying on with business as usual is easy when nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But the fact is, crises can strike anytime. And when it happens, you need to be ready to pivot your operations quickly, safely, and efficiently. 

That’s where a well-thought-out business continuity plan comes into play. 

It prepares you for the worst, such as market nosedives and governments shutting down entire countries. And in these cases, your plan allows you to embrace remote work, enabling you to keep functioning and servicing your clients. It also lets you support your team at home and make them feel comfortable through various predicaments. 

These are just some of the key benefits that a business continuity plan can bring to your business. And this article will delve deeper into its significance and explain how to create one for your company. 

WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A CONTINUITY PLAN

A business continuity plan details a process that your company should take to neutralize and recover from different threats. It can also help protect your business’s assets and personnel during disasters, allowing them to function uninterruptedly. 

Business continuity plans are usually developed as part of a company’s overall risk management. This means you should consider creating this plan ahead of time, not in the middle of a crisis. 

The most significant benefit of creating a business continuity plan is that it provides a clear picture of how to proceed should those threats happen. It also tells you how those circumstances can impact your operations and how to implement procedures to mitigate them. Furthermore, it helps you check if the systems work and are up to date. 

Another tremendous advantage of having a continuity plan is its ability to ensure secure and continued access to your systems. It dictates how your team and IT service provider can reach critical platforms, the available bandwidth, and whether you need to boost their network capacity. 

The overall effect can be a reduced risk of losing your business and team members. 

It can safeguard against financial loss, lost productivity, and a damaged reputation. On top of that, it helps protect your employees from injuries or death in case of threats. 

But what specific threats can you address with a continuity plan? 

Here’s a quick list:

THREAT #1. PANDEMICS

Pandemics can affect your business plans in numerous ways. 

For example, they can force your employees to work from home, increasing demand for some services, and reducing demand for others. Moreover, they can prevent you from distributing your offerings due to supply chain problems. 

A business continuity plan can help you overcome these bumpy periods. 

It formulates how your team will communicate throughout the period and perform business off-site. And it can also provide several options in terms of service distribution.

THREAT #2. NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural disasters are extreme geographic phenomena, including tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and earthquakes. They’re tricky because they’re hard to predict and can leave disastrous consequences within seconds.

Like global pandemics, they can disrupt the supply chain in affected areas, which is why you need a business continuity plan.

THREAT #3. UTILITY OUTAGES

Water shutoffs and loss of communication lines or power can hinder your daily operations. It’s especially true if such outages are predicted to last long.

Without a continuity plan, the risk of asset damage and productivity loss is drastically higher.

THREAT #4. CYBERSECURITY

Cyberattacks are computer-based attacks on your technical assets. The most common examples include data theft, ransomware, distributed denial of service, and SQL injections. 

In the best-case scenario, your infrastructure will function less efficiently until you resolve the issue. But in the worst-case scenario, you could lose access to all business data.

CREATE THE BEST CONTINUITY PLAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Developing a foolproof continuity plan requires a systematic approach. Here’s what your strategy should involve:

#1. IDENTIFYING GOALS 

Business continuity doesn’t just comprise your IT systems. It encompasses all essential business functions, like public relations, human resources, and operations.

Since your company is unique, you’ll need to create a plan according to your specific goals.

So, determine the most important processes and figure out how to back them up with recovery strategies.

#2. SETTING UP AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS GROUP

Choose several cross-functional managers and anyone else who can contribute to the plan, such as your IT service provider.

Determine the emergency response leader and make it clear they’re in charge of moving things forward when disaster strikes. 

#3. BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS AND RISK ASSESSMENT 

Identify, research, and analyze your potential threats thoroughly. Discuss them with your team and see what would happen if you had to reduce, eliminate, or modify certain services.

 Make sure to document all issues along the way.

#4. FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

Your clients need empathy and transparency during crises. And the only way to meet their expectations in such trying times is to ensure your customer support team understands your continuity plan. 

If necessary, hire more people to answer client inquiries.

#5. ADDRESSING BUSINESS FUNCTION 

Your plan should incorporate critical business functions. These include business risk, impact on customers and employees, emergency policy creating, community partners or external organizations, and financial resources during disasters. 

This is vital to ensure business operations are functioning asap.

#6. STAFF TRAINING AND PLAN UPDATES 

Present your continuity plan to stakeholders and promote a proactive approach through trial runs to verify the plan works. This way, you can pinpoint any weaknesses or missing aspects. Then, based on your findings and feedback, train your staff to make the implementation smoother.

Following this tactic doesn’t leave much room for error. 

Besides helping you maintain business operations and the supply chain, it also builds customer confidence. If your response to emergencies is effective, your customers will appreciate it. This allows you to preserve your brand, prevail over your competition, and mitigate financial loss. 

DON’T LET CRISES CRIPPLE YOUR BUSINESS

Disasters can be the ultimate test of your leadership abilities. 

That’s why instead of leaving your company to chance, create an in-depth business continuity plan before emergencies arise. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and you’ll be able to come out stronger after any predicament. 

If you need more insights into developing a continuity plan, get in touch with us today. Let’s set up a 10-15-minute chat to determine your goals and how to achieve them. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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