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A Short Guide to Disaster Recovery for SMEs

One fact of life remains inevitable: disaster.

Disaster can happen for any company, regardless of size. In terms of IT disasters, common issues result from malware (which may lead to your central database crashing), or hacker infiltration that can undermine your business firm’s security. Depending on where your company is located, natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, or tornados can be equally devastating to your business and IT infrastructure.

What’s the best action plan when disaster hits your organization?

A simple one.

Many businesses wrongly believe that creating a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is a cumbersome and expensive process. While some cost is involved, it doesn’t compare to the losses incurred if your organization is hit badly without a disaster recovery plan in place.

Regardless of your location, SME’s should rely on the expertise of external IT firms like EC-MSP, an IT support company to help their organizations create a disaster recovery plan. Forming your DRP strategy alongside industry experts ensures your business is ready when any disaster strikes.

What is Disaster Recovery?

Simply put, disaster recovery is keeping a business running when it encounters natural (flooding) or man-made (a main database crashing due to hacking) disasters. It focuses on the continuity of business to ensure operations don’t come to a complete standstill, and to bring those operations back up and running as quickly as possible.

With IT systems becoming an integral part of businesses around the world, disaster recovery -particularly cyber-security measures – must be considered part of your daily business routine. In fact, many companies spend almost half of their budget in cyber-security expenses as a result of increased cyber-attacks, and the total cost for managing disaster recovery as a whole will increase to $26.23 billion by 2025.

4 Common Disasters Faced by Businesses

Several top business owners have hinted that, apart from stringent government policies, cyber-attacks remain one of the most challenging business disasters they’ve dealt with, more than fire, flood and transit strike combined.

Below is a comprehensive list of 4 common disasters your business may experience. You may already know which ones your business is more prone to, so adopt the best measures to prevent them as soon as possible. Even if you don’t use significant digital infrastructure in your business, natural disasters like fire can destroy assets you have and occur at any time.

Hardware Malfunctions

Hardware failures are often seen within a central data centre, which could be a result of hardware malfunction. Every business – no matter their level of security – is prone to hardware failure. The most important part in coping with this is your plan when it eventually happens (and it will).

Ransomware Invasions

This is typically performed by hackers who attack your organization’s IT set-up with uncrackable algorithms, then send ransom instructions to you for payment to remove the algorithms. In most cases, they receive what they ask for and still crash the system.

Denial-of-Service Attacks (DDoS)

A denial of service attack can overwhelm your website server and eventually crash it, along with any data within it. Cyber attackers use this method by sending a massive amount of encrypted bot traffic that disables your access to the website. Businesses that rely heavily on their websites should take this type of disaster very seriously.

Natural Disasters (Fire, Flooding, Physical Damage)

As mentioned earlier, even if you don’t use much digital infrastructure to run your business, there’s still the likelihood of a natural disaster. This type of disaster can come in the form of physical damage caused by fire, flooding, or even theft. The best proposed disaster recovery method for this is having full insurance coverage.

A Sample Step-by-Step Guide to Disaster Recovery

In this technologically advanced world, large-scale scams happen all the time, and you can’t be expected to know the latest in cyber security practices. That’s why many organizations are keen to work with outsourced IT teams to create a robust and effective disaster recovery plan, effectively saving them from almost any unprecedented attack.

Furthermore, ensure your staff and associates know and understand the plans you’ve put in place. This will enable them to enact a recovery plan even in your absence.

Below is a step-by-step guide on disaster recovery based on common industry standards already in place.

  1. First and foremost, carry out a modelled risk assessment plan for your business. The risk assessment should identify how prone your business is to risk and the attacks it’s most likely to face.

  2. In every business, there are high-risk assets and critical places that – when attacked – might lead to a major crack in the business. Ensure you build a recovery plan for each of them. For a website-reliant company, you need to ensure a daily backup is available that can be used to restore when a disaster occurs.

  3. A classic disaster recovery technique acclaimed in the industry is called ‘the Air Gap.’ The air gap process allows you to back-up your data into a USB drive to physically separate it from a server. Even if your data centre is attacked or your cloud back-up is invaded, you’ll have peace of mind because the information’s physically stored in a safe place.

  4. Experts always advise entrepreneurs to engage staff or team members in data recovery tasks. This helps reduce panic, especially when you’re not available.

  5. Furthermore, in business, there are data integrity plans. Data integrity is when you ensure every asset of the business is accounted for. Physical assets should be under an insurance plan.

  6. When you’ve put every security measure in place, initiate a test run. This means testing each set-up with team members to verify how strong the system is.

  7. Finally, always conduct regular reviews and update your DRP system. Get to know new industry standards and ensure your system security is always up to date.

Conclusion

The effects of a disaster in business (whether natural or man-made) cannot be overemphasized. When such a disaster happens, you may not recover all your data or assets. However, by ensuring you have a DRP, you’ll minimize the aftermath effects, especially concerning your business continuity. Regardless of your organization, partnerships with IT firms and experts with a proven length of experience in cyber-security are incredibly helpful in preparing your business for anything that may come its way.

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