Since the onset of the digital revolution there has been a huge shift in data storage from manual paper to electronic storage. Where there were once rows and rows of filing cabinets now sit stacks and stacks of servers, and while many business leaders believe that their data is safer than it was before the digital age, it is merely a false sense of security unless they have a proper backup and disaster recovery plan in place.
Although digital data storage provides an easier way to archive, store and retrieve information, it does not necessarily safeguard it from potential risks associated with malicious attacks, natural disasters, or unintended human error. In a 2014 study done by Databarracks, the number one cause of data loss over a 12-month time-frame was Hardware (21%)/Software failure (19%), followed closely by human-error (18%), corruption (15%), and Theft/Security breach at 7% each.
The study also indicated that SMBs are not investing, or planning to invest, in disaster recovery or business continuity solutions in the near future despite the risks. Yet, last year, the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council's (DRPC) annual benchmark survey reported that, nearly one in five organizations did not fully recover from a 'serious business disruption' and one in ten suffered from reputation damage.
Unintended business disruptions can have a significant financial impact as well. How dependent your business is on technology to operate can be determined by your ability to remain productive should your systems go down. Reported losses from downtime can range from thousands to millions of dollars, according to the DRPC.
"The financial consequences of losing customers in the aftermath of a breach are having a greater impact on the cost," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. [And] more companies are incurring higher costs in their forensic and investigative activities, assessments and crisis team management."
While there is no way to completely protect your business from disruptive events, there are ways to help mitigate the risk and potential impact that follows. Below are three must-dos for SMBs that want to improve their odds of successfully recovering from a potentially devastating business disruption.
Develop a disaster recovery plan - and test it
It's crucial for companies to have a plan in the event of a significant business disruption. Whether it be from severe weather, human error, or malicious intent. To be able to resume business quickly, you first need to prioritize which functions are the critical to the business. From there, you need to determine exactly how long those business-critical functions can be offline before you experience significant losses. That is your recovery time objective, or RTO.
Knowing your recovery time objective will help you develop a disaster recovery plan. Once your plan is in place it is important to conduct a feasibility test to ensure that your plan can be carried out as intended. TechTarget recommends to test your disaster recovery system at least every 30 days, and high visibility systems should be tested over night every 60 to 90 days.
Back up data and applications off-site or in the cloud
Having an off-site backup is key to successful business continuity and disaster recovery. When data is stored on-premise, it may not be immediately accessible in the aftermath of a crisis. According to Information Systems Security, businesses should be backing up your data at least once per day, to an external source or secure cloud environment.
Train your employees
Provide cyber security training for employees to educate them on how to spot and avoid deceiving malware. Having Internet usage policies and guidelines as well as restricting access to potentially harmful websites can further help reduce the chances of accidental exposure.
Easy ways to train employees include: written tests, spontaneous audits, and role playing scenarios. The more education they receive, the less likely they will be to put the company's data in harms way.
Employees involved in your disaster recovery and business continuity plans should also test regularly to keep information fresh in their heads at all times. Like many first responders, these key employees should be well versed in their responsibilities so they can quickly and efficiently resume operations in the event of a disruption.
The DRPC survey reported that 73 percent of respondents failed at being prepared for technological disaster. Don't wait until it's too late. Pinnacle, an Advanced Imaging Solutions company, can help your company prepare. Contact us today to learn more about our disaster recovery solutions.