A critical part of business strategy is having a disaster recovery plan in place. Any aspect of operations can experience setbacks, but the term disaster recovery commonly refers to IT infrastructure. In the digital environment of today’s business, a company’s connectivity and data are its most valuable assets.

Without protected backup and restore systems, hackers, storms, or even human error could put a company out of business. The response to calamity is a key to survival. Let’s take a look at some common vulnerabilities and what’s at stake.

person holding out hand with chalk drawing

What Business Areas Are in Danger?

  • Healthcare Industry: Medical records are a favorite of hackers because they may contain all the keys to identity theft in one source. This includes patient name and address, social security numbers, insurance info, birthdate, and other sensitive information.
  • Retailers: It’s merchants, not banks, that hackers focus on for financial information. They generally have less stringent security yet credit card information relating to thousands of transactions. Even some major retail companies have suffered data breaches in the past few years.
  • Small businesses: For the same reason hackers go after small business. They generally have less IT support, and thus lower security. They are more at risk from calamities like lost or corrupt files, and fire or storms. Small companies also more often have lapses in disaster recovery procedures, such as not performing system tests, or foregoing the expense of maintaining off-site copies of data.
  • Ecommerce: Firms that do business solely on the internet are at greater risk of hackers, network downtime, and denial-of-service attacks. Purely malicious attackers can hijack email accounts and use them to spoil established company brands. These calamities may occur on servers hundreds of miles away from the business owner, leaving them helpless until the webhost has recovered.
  • Manufacturing: One of the favorite hacker tactics today is to infiltrate purchase accounts and steal special credit card numbers to make huge orders from vendors. These goods are then shipped to a false address where they are picked up again, leaving the company’s credit and reputation in flames.

urban destruction after terrorist attack or earthquake

6 Most Devastating Effects on Business of Poor Disaster Recovery Standards

Business Continuity

Most companies have a vital need to stay connected to the internet and to other team members. When this connectivity fails, it means that productivity, time, and revenue fall. It’s essential that recovery procedures be set up and kept in order to assure that systems are up and running as quickly as possible. This usually involves redundant application and data storage, and frequently-updated backups to minimize any data loss. Both backup and restore methods should be tested regularly to ensure they will work as expected.

Complete or partial data loss

Especially in modern times, data and its use are the most important tools to doing business. Not just servers going down, but loss of a single file could be a severe setback. Losing documentation on a project that took months to complete, a major client’s data, or a key presentation the day before it’s due could mean the loss of thousands or millions of dollars in future business. Up-to-date backups of every single document that’s important to the organization are paramount.

Loss of clients

Sales leads who find telephony or online systems unresponsive will quickly move on. Even loyal customers are going to be mad with delays or loss of service, and may turn elsewhere. But knowing that their personal data is unsafe is even worse. It feels like a breach of trust, and no matter how good the defenses and how clever the hackers, ultimately it’s the company who’ is accountable for protecting that data. These clients are unlikely to ever come back.

Expensive recovery process

Once customers lose trust and reputations are in flames, there is a loss of revenue that can only be won back through rebuilding. This means a complete overhaul of branding and marketing. With data protection regulations like HIPAA and SOX, it could mean hefty fines if the company has been negligent in any respect. Culpability could also mean lawsuits over breach of contract or monetary damages. The potential losses in a single calamity more than justify the expense of a good disaster recovery policy.

System crash

In the event of a computer virus or physical disasters, business servers could become completely unusable, either temporarily or permanently. Even product waiting on shipping will have to wait without automated systems for labeling and inventory management. Employees may be sitting idly at their desks wondering why they don’t have access to necessary files and software. It’s important to establish policies for staffing and communication issues as part of the disaster recovery policy. A severe calamity that not only creates downtime, but cripples infrastructure could mean rebuilding hardware, software, and even data from scratch. That could be more than most small businesses can tolerate financially.

The weakest link

An important part of the recovery process is knowing what went on so steps can be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Even if it was something like a hurricane, which is beyond anyone’s control, companies need to ask themselves what they could have done to better prepare. No organization can be completely immune to IT disaster, so it’s essential to learn from mistakes and develop more effective disaster recovery plans to minimize downtime and recovery costs.

Help sign on window of a car after blizzard

Better be prepared for a blizzard if you live up north.

In summary, it’s important to keep in mind that no organization, public or private is immune from IT disasters. Hackers may be vandals as well as thieves, and even a simple power outage could have serious consequences for companies that don’t have a good disaster recovery plan in place. However, it’s possible to keep damage to minimal time and costs by understanding what the requirements are.

Is your company ready for disaster? Please leave us your comments and share your thoughts and experiences.

Images taken from depositphotos.com.

 

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