What to do when disaster strikes

What to do when disaster strikes

All the way back in 2014, cybercriminals struck the Marriott International, but hotel officials only learned about it in September 2018 — four years after the initial breach.

Hackers managed to steal the names, contact and travel information, and personal data of about 500 million customers. They also pilfered the credit card numbers of over 100 million guests.

Disasters aren’t confined solely to cyberattacks, but also include hardware failure, natural calamities, and anything that threatens the operations of an organization. Disaster can even stem from human error or negligence.

The high costs of downtime

Regardless of the reason, one thing is certain: recovering from a disaster is expensive. The cost of downtime, replacing or repairing damaged equipment, and lost business opportunities can be staggering. In most cases, it is too much for small businesses to bear.

For instance, Corero Network Security found that the cost of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that disrupts the normal traffic of a server or network can reach up to $50,000. CNN added that companies are losing more than $100,000 because of ransomware - a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system until a ransom is paid.

The worst part is that 40 to 60% of small companies that lose operational systems and data because of a disaster are forced to close shop. This is especially true for organizations without a data recovery plan.

The importance of a disaster recovery plan

As its name implies, the goal of a disaster recovery plan is to help a company survive a disaster, bounce back from downtime, and resume operations as soon as possible. The plan’s effectiveness is measured via a recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). These help administrators determine the best strategies and procedures to recover.

RPO refers to how recent backups must be to recover operations without crippling data loss. Knowing this number for your business determines how often you must create new backups. For instance, if an organization has an RPO of 24 hours, backups must be made at least every 24 hours.

On the other hand, RTO is the maximum amount of downtime that the company can handle. If the RTO is 24 hours, everything needs to be restored and running within a day.

How to survive a disaster

Knowing this, how do you formulate your own disaster recovery plan when threats come your way? Here are a few suggestions from Capstone IT, your reliable technology partner:

  • Back up critical files
  • Make backups of financial information, customer data, and other important files so your company won’t be crippled during a disaster. Categorizing your backups by how critical they are makes it easier to prioritize and manage the recovery process.

  • Make a list
  • When a nasty disaster cripples your servers for a long time, it pays to have an offline, hard copy of the things to do to get you through. List the equipment you need, technical procedures, and day-to-day applications to help you continue working.

  • Talk to employees
  • Keep an offline record of employees’ and business partners’ contact information and emergency numbers to get in touch with them no matter what happens. Inform them of the disaster and update them regarding relevant developments. This will prevent miscommunication and confusion. Create teams with the right people and tell them what to do to mitigate the effects of a disaster.

  • Alert your customers
  • Inform customers when your servers are down and when you intend to resume operations. To quell rumors and misinformation, make an official statement on your social media pages or website.

  • Prepare for remote work
  • If your business goes offline because of extreme weather conditions, consider having your team work remotely. Plan ahead to determine how to carry out essential operations regardless of the location.

  • Get insured
  • Check your business’s insurance policy to see if it has the right coverage to help you survive a disaster. If it doesn’t, consider signing up for a service like CyberShield, which includes insurance specifically designed for cyberattacks.

  • Practice makes perfect
  • To test if your disaster recovery plan works, conduct regular drills and identify problem areas. Fix things before they create major problems during a real disaster.

When disaster strikes, it pays to partner with a trusted company like Capstone IT for managed IT services, IT support, cloud services, and backup and recovery solutions. Our friendly experts have served many small-business owners in the Rochester-Buffalo and West Palm Beach-Treasure Coast areas. Call us today and be ready for anything!

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