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The Business Guide to Surviving the Next Hurricane Harvey (Part Two)

In Part One of our article, we talked about the devastating impact that Hurricane Harvey had on businesses in the Houston area. We also explained how developing a business continuity plan, complete with how the three essential elements of operational recovery sites, data backup and communications, can help save your business when disaster strikes.

Today, we’re going over more ways to stop business interruption, with a big focus on 3 questions you need to answer when you are working with your managed services provider (MSP) to prepare your business continuity plan.

1. Do you have a cloud solution in place?

Now that you know how important it is to back up your data, you’re probably wondering how to go about doing so. If you don’t already have one or more cloud solutions in place, that should be one of your first steps.

A recent study found that 90% of organizations use the cloud in some way, with 50% using cloud services as their preferred solution. We could write an entire paper on the benefits of cloud services (and we’ll get to that soon), but one of the major benefits you’re looking at is the ability for the cloud to keep your business running as a primary and/or backup server.

Your data should also have a physical backup, but with the cloud, you will be operational in minimal time.

2. Do you understand how important it is to eliminate downtime?

When disaster shuts down your business, you immediately start losing money. A recent ITIC survey finds that 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000. Even if your business is doing very well, no business owner or decision maker looks at a $100,000 loss with a big smile. And that’s just one hour.

When you extrapolate those figures over the days, weeks, months it sometimes takes an ill-prepared business to become operational, it’s easy to see why 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyberattack.

3. Are you prepared for mobile operations?

Over 70% of businesses are permitting, or planning to soon permit, employees to use their own devices for work purposes. The rise of the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend can definitely work in your favor if you need to shift quickly to operating out-of-office. You must, however, ensure that your data is secure across platforms.

When building your business continuity plan, you also want to work with your MSP to create a network that adapts to a mobile environment. Cybersecurity should never take a backseat to business continuity. There’s no reason these two can’t work hand-in-hand to minimize data loss and optimize productivity.

GB Tech Will Stop Business Interruption in 15 Minutes or Less

Here at GB Tech, we will work with your business to create a business continuity plan that guarantees minimal business interruption, and enables your business to be operational in 15 minutes or less.

We believe in Houston business and we are happy to share more specific information about how to keep your business going in the event of a disaster.

Please reach out to GB Tech to learn more. You can contact us anything, anytime.

Business Guide to Surviving the Next Hurricane Harvey (Part One)

For many people in our great nation, 2017 was a very tough year. That is particularly true of our friends, family and colleagues here in Houston and the surrounding areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. With respect and interest in further helping the professionals and businesses involved, we have created a short guide to stopping business interruption in the event of another catastrophic event.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the Category 4 hurricane did over $125 billion in damage. Thousands of businesses were forced to close temporarily due to the disaster, and many closed permanently. Not only were people out of house and home, but many had no job to return to after recovery got underway.

We would like to share some essential information that will help your business survive in the event of a disaster. Here’s how to stop business interruption in its tracks:

You Need a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is just that, a plan to ensure that your business continues to operate in the event of a disaster. This internally developed document outlines the key individuals and their roles in initiating a step-by-step procedure to keep your business operational regardless of the series of events that may have occurred. This plan will be the framework for surviving beyond any disaster, and it will provide a reference point for training your employees in best practices and business resilience.

The specifics of your business continuity plan will vary to some degree based on your business, the geographic location of your employees, and the nature of the disaster. Here are some of the key areas that all plans must address.

Operations

Once you are confident that your data is being safely backed up, you then have to address operational procedures to continue serving customers. Your business continuity plan should always include a list of responsibilities and delegations so that you can be up and running as soon as possible.

After connecting with your team to make sure that everyone is safe, you’ll probably wonder how your employees will get back to work once their physical systems are no longer available. Many businesses at this point will create a business recovery site as an official base of operations.

Business recovery sites can range from skeletal offices with basic internet access and a few desks to fully operational offices that basically mimic the original site’s functionality down to computer hardware and amenities.

No matter what type of site you can afford to invest in, you’ll want to make sure that you have some sort of operational backup in mind.

Your recovery site, or even your remote worker recovery plan, can be organized by your managed services professional so that it fits the security standards already in place within your current network configurations.

Data Backup

When something as strong as a hurricane strikes your business, there’s little doubt that the physical hardware within your office will be compromised. If you have not backed up your data, then you will most likely lose all of the data that is essential to running your business, especially if your business systems are located at or below ground level.

Most data backup solutions will include a combination of backing up your data to additional local servers, as well as a cloud solution that will maintain copies of all your data in an off-site location unaffected by current issues to keep it safe from any potential data loss due to physical damage.

You would be surprised how often, even without a natural disaster, business owners lose data due to hardware failure. In the USA, historically about 140,000 hard drives fail every week.

Your physical infrastructure, including your server and other IT-related technology, is important and should always be updated to meet the demands of your business. That being said, it is still the data stored on your systems that is most important to running your business. You don’t want, and can’t afford, to lose that data.

Communications

A successful business continuity plan will always include communication protocols. It’s important that both your employees and customers know who to turn to for leadership and support.

For your employees, make sure that you have a dedicated line established that they can call for detailed business continuity instructions. Don’t rely on live information, because you will find that one person answering the phones is not adequate for the multiple people requesting information.

For your customers, you want to prepare a series of messages and a delivery schedule to make sure that they are alerted, informed and reassured that despite any possible disaster, you will be operational and open for business and they can know what to expect.

Stop Business Interruption in 15 Minutes or Less

Here at GB Tech, we will work with your business to create a business continuity plan that not only guarantees minimal business interruption but also will have you operational in 15 minutes or less.

We believe in Houston businesses and we are happy to share more specific information about how to keep your business going in the event of a disaster.

Please reach out to GB Tech to learn more. You can contact us about anything, any time.

3 of the Worst IT-related Disasters Ever (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Data breaches have, at this point, impacted almost every single person in the USA. These great larcenies of private information via mainstream companies are not only alarming but they are estimated to cost $6 trillion dollars by 2021. But we can learn a lot about how to stop business interruption from these catastrophic data breaches.

Here we share 3 of the biggest breaches of all time and some ways to avoid them.

1. 2013 Target Data Breach

In 2013, Target suffered a catastrophic data breach, leading to the loss of 11 gigabytes of customer data. The stolen data included names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and payment information for 70 million people.

Obviously, 70 million unhappy customers are not good for business, especially when it costs the company $252 million dollars. How does that even happen? Actually, Target was hit the same way many businesses are attacked–through phishing.

Here’s what we now know happened:

A single employee at one of Target’s third-party vendors, Fazio Mechanical, was tricked by a phishing program that allowed a password-stealing program called Citadel to be installed on the Fazio server. From there, attackers breached the Target vendor portal, Ariba, and took over the servers. It was a short trip from there to the POS servers, where the attackers spent weeks stealing and selling customer information on the black market.

Phishing is a cyberattack that works by prompting users into volunteering sensitive information through deceptive emails containing malicious attachments or website links. Compromising corporate data really is this simple sometimes.

One way to prevent damage to your business from phishing scams is to educate your employees. On top of the common cybersecurity practices applied by your managed services provider, informing employees to never enter personal or protected information on strange websites, as well as to “think before clicking,” will help prevent successful phishing scams.

Make sure to combat phishing with a combination of regular education and sufficient cybersecurity measures in case someone forgets.

2. 2014 Home Depot Malware Attack

In 2014, Home Depot suffered data loss of email and credit card information for more than 56 million customers. Home Depot soon learned that the last thing you want to do is compromise data from 56 million people who enjoy swinging hammers and planting things deep in gardens.

The damage? In total, the breach cost Home Depot $179 million dollars, including legal class action. The lawsuit also demands that Home Depot invests in stronger cybersecurity measures.

The Home Depot Breach happened because attackers were able to access a weakness and install malware which stole the consumers’ credit card, debit card, and email information. Like Target’s incident before, the attackers accessed Home Depot’s network through a third-party vendor.

The lesson here is that you need proper cybersecurity so that an anomaly can be recognized and stopped in its track. If you are worried about how accessible your network is, speak to your managed services provider about your current cybersecurity efforts and mention the need for superior access control and malware protection.

3. 2017 Equifax Cybersecurity Breach

You’ve probably heard of Equifax. It’s one of the three big companies that track and analyze our credit activity and scores in the US.

Let’s face it, none of us really like the people who sit in their little rooms pumping out algorithms in a mass effort to rank our financial capability. That being said, we didn’t exactly want hackers to steal the personal and financial information of 143 million people from Equifax.

That’s exactly what happened in 2017. According to Equifax, the attackers “exploited a U.S. website application vulnerability to gain access to certain files.” Those certain files included credit card numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth, address information and more.

A company like Equifax is required to have cybersecurity solutions in place, but we’ve learned that even they are susceptible to large-scale attacks. The total financial damage is unknown at this time, as various lawsuits against the credit monitoring giant are in progress.

Take Action and Business Protection

According to a study by Verizon, a small data breach where only 100 records are lost would most likely cost an organization anywhere from $18,120 to $35,730, but could cost as much as $555,660. Your business is a constant target for cyberattacks. And just like the three companies we’ve talked about today, you could be hit with major financial losses if you experience a security breach.

The best way to protect your business from cyberattacks is to work with your managed services provider to create your own solid cybersecurity solution. Most of the time, this will involve analyzing your network for vulnerabilities and strengthening those points. Monitoring your network is also imperative for proactive, ongoing protection against incoming threats.

As your IT partner, GB Tech strives to deliver mission-critical support in a dynamic, constantly changing world, and we are ready to help you learn more about your current cybersecurity solutions. You can contact us any time.