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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.

How to Stop Business Interruption and Save Your Business

It is 2020 and you are an astronaut on the prime crew of the Apollo 18 Mission. You have just participated in the rigorous NASA training program, and you are preparing to blast off to the opportunity of a lifetime — a lunar landing!

You have finished all of the pre-flight procedures. You’ve practice your landing speech in your head, and even dashes off an email to your sweetheart. You’re totally ready. All you have to do is get dressed. But, in all of the excitement, you manage to puncture a hole in your spacesuit.

You don’t have an extra spacesuit, so your backup on the mission, Carl, gets to do the Apollo 18 Mission and land on the Moon instead, while you stay at home on Earth and take notes. But that’s okay, you can go next time. This is the first Apollo mission to the Moon in 38 years, but they are bound to get more frequent.

Wow. That would be the disappointment of a lifetime, right? Fortunately, NASA has a backup plan for everything. Even for how many spacesuits go on each Apollo mission.

Historically, each NASA Apollo Mission required 15 suits. Three suits each were made for all three members of the prime crew, and two for each of the three members of the backup crew.

NASA has a privilege of including in its ranks some of the most acclaimed scientists and engineers of our time. You can trust that if they believe in the importance of a backup plan, it’s probably a good idea to follow suit (pun, totally intended).

In fact, in much of life, we are often encouraged to have a backup plan. We keep savings accounts, health savings, life insurance, and maybe a few of us hide money in a fake book in our office library. Planning for a possible life changing event or an unexpected disaster to become part of our lives. Unfortunately, people in business often totally forget to plan ahead for the unforeseen.

If you want the primary mission of your business to go off without a hitch, it’s important to have your own backup solutions and data recovery plans.

Data Backup Prevents Data Loss

First of all, congratulations. If you are considering a data backup plan, you are way ahead of the curve. A recent industry report found that only 51% of business users within organizations backup their data to on-premises computers or external drives, and only 35% backup their data to the cloud.

If you are disturbed by those numbers, the figures showing what happens when you don’t backup your data will really floor you. For instance, Verizon found that 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.

Now that you know what a financial beating businesses take when they suffer a data loss, you are probably thinking, “I definitely don’t wanna lose my data! What causes data loss?”

Source: ITProPortal 

Typically, data loss occurs due to one or more of the following:

Hardware failure

In the USA, approximately 140,000 hard drives fail every week. It’s also reported that 60% of small businesses that suffer significant data loss will close within 12 months.

Hardware failure, unfortunately, is more of an inevitability than a possibility. Hard drives are not designed to last forever, and they have a definite, albeit unpredictable, shelflife.

Human Error

Raise your hand if you’ve ever accidentally destroyed a computer. Okay, now look around. Again, you’re not alone. As much as 70% of all data center incidents can be attributed to bad operations/human error.

Natural Disasters

Your business is subject to the destruction of nature. When natural disaster strikes, not only are you unable to work, which contributes to catastrophic losses due to downtime, but your physical components are often destroyed. Without data backup, your business may be unsalvageable.

Cyberattacks

A direct cyberattack can cost businesses as much as $40,000 per hour. Most businesses can’t afford, or would at least prefer not to throw away a full-time employees annual salary on a cyberattack.

Creating a solid data backup plan allows your business to continue if you are attacked.

No matter which of the main categories of a disaster you encounter, you will want to establish a solid data backup plan to keep your business running.

Source: Data Center Knowledge

A Disaster Recovery Plan Keeps You in Business

When we use the word “disaster” what we mean is any significant event that might negatively impacted your business. Data loss, by way of any of the four major categories we’ve discussed today, qualifies as one of the primary disasters your business might encounter.

We’ve emphasized the importance of a data backup solution, because it is the first step in maintaining business continuity. For your business to grow, it needs to stay open. Backing up your data ensures that losing physical components will not mean the end of your business.

Data loss will not be the only impact of a disaster. You may have to purchase new equipment, ensure power supply, and keep your network running.

A disaster recovery plan involves data backup as well as other steps to maintain the longevity of your business. In one study, 75% of business owners reported that they didn’t have any type of disaster recovery plan.

While data backup ensures that you have the information to run your business, a full-scale disaster recovery plan will ensure that you still have the infrastructure to run a business.

Things to consider might be: alternate operation locations, backup servers, generators, and more.

Source: Nationwide

GB Tech Can Help

It’s more important than ever to have redundancies in place to protect your business. At GB Tech, we have a history of creating data backup solutions and disaster recovery plans that keep businesses running no matter what unfortunate situations may arise.

If you’d like to learn more about backup and disaster recovery, please give us a call or shoot us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.