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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Is your business prepared for a flood?

This winter has brought plenty of ice and cold, but warmer air's on the horizon and with that comes a renewed threat of flooding.

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This winter has brought plenty of ice and cold, but warmer air's on the horizon and with that comes a renewed threat of flooding. If your business is in a zone that's prone to this sort of natural disaster, you need to protect your company resources so that you can get up and running swiftly in case the unexpected happens.

It's all about the preparation
According to The Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council's 2014 annual benchmark study, only 27 percent of companies have put the appropriate steps in place for their disaster preparedness. That leaves 73 percent without adequate planning, testing and technological resources to assist them with resuming operations after an accident, like a flood, puts their system out of commission. From data center downtimes to equipment failure, disasters can cost businesses by the minute, adding to the already devastating impact of flooding or other incidents.

To guard themselves against paralysis in the event of a flood or other disaster, businesses need to develop strong disaster recovery plans and have the right infrastructure in place to protect and restore their resources. The DRP Council recommended developing a DR plan that covers applications and network services at primary and secondary sites, defining recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives, as well as frequently testing the plan to identify recovery capabilities.

Understanding data protection
Before any of this can be achieved, however, companies need to understand the basics of disaster recovery and know how to protect their data from physical disasters like floods. Small Business explained that the following components are critical preparation for incidents that threaten enterprise networks:

  • Backups: You need to have duplicates of your mission-critical data resources, and they must be kept up-to-date. Having backup files from two months ago is hardly going to be sufficient in a world that generates new digital information at a remarkable pace. Data management solutions should be able to create back ups regularly for files that are frequently changed or added.
  • Accessibility: Business continuity is a better form of disaster recovery. You need to resume your operations as soon as possible, even if that means working from different locations. If your company's computers are all destroyed, you could benefit from a solution that enables employees to access corporate resources from other devices. That's one of the main advantages of a hosted cloud service, such as managed file transfer, that keeps your data safe while enabling workers to connect from anywhere.
  • Communication: To respond effectively to a disaster, you should have a plan in place to let key people and customers know what's going on. Small Business suggested using tools like social media and alert systems to keep clients informed and to facilitate appropriate action among employees and IT support.

Don't forget security and testing
In addition to protecting data by storing backups in secondary locations, you need to make sure that your solutions are secure. CIO Magazine emphasized that sensitive data must be properly encrypted, including backup copies, to prevent unauthorized parties from gaining access to this content. The source added that organizations should consider laptops and other portable devices in their DR plans, since these machines are less resilient and more susceptible to theft. Solutions like Wide Area File Services (WAFS) can reduce the vulnerability of using mobile devices, since the data is safely stored in a protected environment, instead of on employees' machines.

Cloud-based managed file transfer services can be a great resource for data recovery, but you should make sure your provider offers top-notch security, the magazine advised. With a responsible provider that prioritizes and manages security, the cloud can help businesses cut backup costs, boost performance and reduce the number of recovery point objectives.

Finally, as with any data solution, disaster recovery processes need to be tested regularly to make employees know what to do in the event of an incident and to make sure the processes and technology work correctly. Having backups and cloud storage is great, but it won't do you much good if you cannot efficiently restore your resources and resume your business activities. Therefore, CIO magazine recommended auditing data pools and performing random recovery tests even as frequently as once a week.