A business continuity plan is created for times of crisis, and so many businesses do not think about them until a crisis arises. This, of course, is not the right way to do things. A little bit of foresight can prevent a huge amount of trouble, and that’s why every business needs to plan for those unpleasant possibilities. Whether it’s a cyber attack or just a routine network outage, good planning makes for smooth operations. Still, all of the above is just common sense. Let’s talk about how you can implement a cloud-based business continuity plan.
Backups Are The Most Essential Aspect
Most businesses need access to their data in order to continue operating. At the very least, you need access to the apps and programs that run your transactions. Thus, when doing this kind of planning, you need to think about the most efficient ways to back up your data.
Obviously, these will be essential in dealing with a ransomware attack. An attacker cannot hold your data hostage if you have a viable backup ready to go. You will lose everything that happened since the most recent backup, but that isn’t likely to cripple your operations. Of course, that brings us to the importance of backup frequency. Business cloud backup services are probably the easiest way to create an efficient auto-backup system.
You will definitely want to set up an automated backup system. Ideally, you want that essential data to be backed up on a daily basis (maybe even multiple times per day). We would consider one backup per week to be an absolute minimum. You cannot realistically count on human employees to remember this task and it will take their attention away from more important matters. With automated backup, you already know that the data is safe.
Managed cloud backup is the most efficient way, but you do need to make sure that your managed service provider has a record showing the utmost integrity and diligence. In other words, don’t go with a company that has suffered a bunch of data breaches and/or been caught doing dishonest things. You might be surprised how much you can learn about a particular company from one quick internet search.
The Human Element
Just as many serious problems are caused by the human element, many problems can also be prevented with the same tool. When it comes to a business continuity plan, the whole point is for everyone to be prepared. That is why you must make sure that all management-level personnel is familiar with the details of such plans.
In order to shake out any flaws that might exist in your contingency plan, it might also be necessary to do some drilling. Create a simulated incident so that your team can go through the appropriate steps and restore the situation to normalcy. This may seem excessive, but this is the best way to account for the human factor.
Think About All The Things That Could Go Wrong
When dealing with any problem, it is necessary to figure out the cause so that it can be addressed. Although you cannot usually predict a crisis in advance, you can prepare yourself for the most common scenarios. Here are some examples of events that could trigger a business continuity plan:
- Network outage
- Natural disasters of all types
- A cyber-attack or data breach
- Civil war, insurrection, or other social upheaval
- Criminal actions like mass shootings, acts of terrorism, etc.
- Unexpected demise of key people (owners, managers, etc.)
- Bankruptcy or financial shortfalls
In terms of IT matters, backups are indeed the most important aspect of a business continuity plan. However, recovery is equally important. Remember that a continuity plan is supposed to be a short-term plan that keeps everything running until normalcy can be restored.
When choosing business cloud backup services, make sure to ask about disaster recovery services or tools. Before you can restore using your system backup, you will need to make sure that the devices on the network (and the network itself) are safe. That means removing any malware that might have been installed, fixing any existing issues or bugs, and resetting any settings that may have been changed.
The surest method here is to wipe the entire drive. Malware files can be very sneaky little things and they can be very hard to root out entirely. When we say “wipe”, we are not talking about formatting here. Computer data on a physical drive is never fully gone until it has been overwritten with different data. It works almost like an old-fashioned VHS tape. You erase something by taping over its contents. Bleachbit is one of the more popular tools for this purpose, although CCleaner also has a pretty good reputation.
Level 2 Backups
All of these cloud backup features are great, but there is some data that is just too sensitive for the cloud. For instance, if you are working with payment details that include credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc., that data can end up in online “dropboxes” that effectively serve as data dumps for the cloud. Although these drop boxes can be set to auto-delete their contents, the sensitive data will still be there for a certain amount of time. For this reason, it is good to use something that we like to call “level 2 backups.”
By this time, you should have figured out a way to separate your data into categories based on sensitivity. For instance, a routine set of work orders would not be of much use to a snooper or hacker, so that data is low-tier in terms of sensitivity. Financial details and confidential customer information are generally considered to be top-tier. Top-tier data should be stored in a separate backup that is done manually. When finished, it should be transferred to a machine that cannot access the internet and which is under lock and key.
Obviously, this is just a quick and dirty outline, as we do not have the space to do a full continuity plan. Besides, such a plan will be different for every business and organization, anyway. We hope that we have given you a good introduction to this concept and showed how the cloud can be a useful tool here. If you would like to learn a little more, you can always call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.