Staying Protected While Remote: Disaster Recovery Planning
The way we work has changed radically over the last year. While 2020 challenged businesses to redesign how they work and rethink their operations, 2021 is challenging them to maintain their remote infrastructure. While vaccinations continue to progress, the number of workers staying home will likely remain high as organizations prioritize employee health and wellness.
As companies adapt to meet the new IT needs of a remote workforce, disaster preparedness is critical. Throughout the year, natural disasters like storms, flooding and tornadoes are all very real threats in much of the U.S. These threats could lead to disruptions to data management that prove devastating for businesses, especially while employees work within remote cloud environments. A strong data recovery and backup plan, supported by employee security education and IT engagement, can ensure work continues uninterrupted no matter what.
Keep Data Available by Avoiding Disruption
Data is the lifeblood of any organization and the most important asset to enable smart decision-making. In order for a business to remain successful, its data must be protected at all times.
Mitigating cyber disruption
Remote work has brought with it a new level of exposure, helping fuel the proliferation of cyberattacks. Malicious actors realized the opportunity to target employees working on vulnerable home Wi-Fi networks, often sans VPN. With more time on their hands, hackers have become more sophisticated in their attacks, making it increasingly difficult for organizations to mitigate the problem. Businesses without a backup and recovery mechanism often have to pay exorbitant ransoms to set their systems free. But, at a time when many businesses are already feeling a budget crunch, there’s little room to pay out huge sums to bad actors. Beyond the financial costs, such issues also cost companies time that could have been spent selling and conducting business.
Overcoming natural disasters
With employees dispersed, the potential for downed systems resulting from natural disasters becomes higher. A heavy storm season in the region can make it difficult for IT departments to keep widespread systems online at all times. That can create downtime and resulting data loss for employees who don’t have the sophisticated network infrastructure that corporate environments do.
Whether it’s an online or natural disaster, system downtime (even for a short period of time) can cause significant internal and external impacts for organizations. In fact, enough downtime can drive an organization out of business. Knowing this, data backup is essential. As IT teams juggle tasks with dispersed teams, these departments may consider implementing cloud-based data backup options and Disaster Recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS). Cloud backups can help IT teams keep critical data centralized in one easier-to-manage location. The cloud also makes it easier for teams to conduct backups on a regular, automated basis, making sure that all data is refreshed regularly and potential losses are avoided.
Budgetary concerns remain high for businesses hit hard by the pandemic. While data backup investment opportunities might be limited, research shows that senior IT decision-makers will prioritize cloud and cybersecurity infrastructure options in the year ahead. With that said, data backup should be a subset of such investment.
As organizations continue through the first and second quarters of the year, it will be important that they conduct a business impact analysis (BIA) to get a disaster recovery plan up and running that aligns with their mission-critical infrastructure and budgetary needs. One consideration they might make to assist in their investment is to consolidate partners and streamline services.
Ultimately, IT teams must work in tandem with executive leadership to ensure that investments are made and resources allocated where they’re needed most.
Prioritize Employee Training
Human error is one of the most common risks to network and IT infrastructure. When building a disaster preparedness plan, it’s important to remember that even the best backup and recovery technologies need to be supplemented with the right training and education for employees to help them avoid inadvertently opening the door to vulnerabilities.
With attack surfaces broader due to dispersed edge devices and IT teams much less accessible, companies now need to empower their employees with the tools and knowledge to thwart a potential cyberattack. IT teams should offer “refresher” courses to employees, detailing why everything from corporate VPN and secure router use to password updates and suspicious email avoidance is critical to maintaining always-on corporate networks.
On the operations side, working with a professional services team can help leaders take a more holistic view of the organization, pinpoint the most sensitive systems and create a plan to ensure problem areas are addressed.
Prepare for the Unexpected
2020 taught us many lessons—one being that it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. For businesses, this means having the infrastructure in place to ensure data is consistently protected across systems, no matter how dispersed employees are. Remote work is only going to continue, and businesses need to ensure that they are prepared to maintain operations for the long haul.