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Protect Your Data Before Disaster Strikes: Best Practices for Disaster Recovery Plans

Businesses should work with disaster recovery experts to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to protect their data.

This year, businesses should put greater emphasis on their disaster recovery plans to avoid the system outages and downtime that result in lost production and impacted revenue. It's time to double down on protecting one of your most valuable assets: your data.

For Further Reading:

Data Silos and Breaches: Building a Long-term Security Operations Platform with Elasticsearch

5 Best Data-Breach Planning Practices for 2019

Anonymized Data: Think Again (And Again)

Disaster Cost

When IT systems go down, the costs for an enterprise are both operational and monetary. When their infrastructure is impacted, enterprises face an expense of $5,600 per minute or $2.7 million per workday. Between employees not being able to work and teams brought in to address the infrastructure damages, the enterprise's bottom line can be severely impacted.

This year, it will be important for companies to replace fear with preparation when it comes to disaster recovery. Businesses can no longer take a reactive approach. Data-intensive organizations in particular must increase their planning efforts for the inevitable "what ifs" to occur. Although businesses cannot prevent the unpredictable, disaster recovery plans are imperative, as are partnerships between corporations and disaster recovery experts who can assist enterprises in developing and maintaining their approach and their plans.

Preparing for the unpredictable starts and ends with data resiliency to avoid potential disruption. Making resiliency and recovery plans second nature this year will be crucial for enterprise success. Businesses that have not yet implemented these plans need to assess their internal data center vulnerabilities, then work with partners to implement systems that keep up with maintenance and necessary upgrades. Businesses should develop recovery plans that outline internal communications, work locations, and security and compliance responsibilities -- among other components -- in case a disaster does occur.

From Disaster Recovery to DRaaS

Recent research from Uptime Institute shows that between 2017 and 2018 enterprise downtime or service degradation increased by 6 percent -- 31 percent of businesses experienced downtime in 2018 versus 25 percent the year before.

This year, more businesses should turn to disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) as they rethink their infrastructure to avoid downtime. Data-intensive businesses that demand always-on reliability but lack internal disaster management resources can use DRaaS to put employees back to work and leave disaster monitoring to experts.

Remaining Resilient: Tips for 2020

Disaster risks range from human error to cyberattacks to natural disasters. Businesses should emphasize employee awareness and proactive planning before malware or a hurricane hits.

Some experts say human error and system malfunctions cause almost half of all reported data breaches. A recent report from cybersecurity firm Mimecast shows that 94 percent of individuals experienced a phishing attack over the past year and 86 percent of organizations saw an average of three days of downtime from a ransomware attack last year. If enterprises do not get serious about their cyber resiliency and employee training programs this year, numbers will only rise.

Throughout the year, pay attention to your cyber practices and the role of the chief information security officer. If your enterprise hasn't done so already, implement regular internal meetings and follow up with employees to ensure that everyone is aligned on cyber strategies and understands how to thwart potential attacks. Whether this is led by the internal security team or outsourced to a cybersecurity vendor, your organization must get serious about arming your employees against the risks of malicious actors.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) notes that the U.S. is experiencing a rise in expensive natural disasters as a result of climate change, exposure, and vulnerability. The frequency of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes is expected to increase by 45 to 85 percent according to The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Your business must take the risks of climate change seriously and regularly assess your vulnerabilities. Organizations on the east coast should know the risks of hurricanes; organizations in the north should understand the implications following a blizzard; businesses in Tornado Alley should be prepared for those namesake events. No two companies have the same set of risk factors. Also keep in mind that your data in the cloud may depend on a data center facing a different set of risks. This year, businesses should make a concerted effort to work with disaster recovery experts to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to keep their data protected.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Today, most businesses are failing because they don't have a strategy in place. Take steps this year to change.

About the Author

Patrick Doherty is the chief revenue officer at Flexential where he leads sales, sales operations, marketing, solutions engineering, and channel and commercial management and has his finger on the pulse of Flexential’s revenue growth investments. He is responsible for results across the entire revenue process. Prior to joining the company in 2017, Doherty held leadership positions at a variety of organizations, including OnX Enterprise Solutions, Unisys Corporation, and Sungard Availability Services.

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