Monthly Archives: November 2016

4 Strategic Keys for Wintertime Business Continuity

While winter hasn’t officially begun, there’s no denying that the weather has taken a turn for the worse, especially for businesses that operate in the Northern regions of the country. If snowstorms and icy winds haven’t yet affected the momentum of a company’s productivity and project coordination, there will undoubtedly be inclement conditions to contend with as the winter progresses. Organizations expecting to confront these challenges in the coming months will have to prepare their business continuity strategies to navigate the worst-case scenarios that await them.

‘Tis the season for continuity
Even if a company has plenty of backup and contingency planning components in place, the winter months bring risk management requirements to the next level. From the data center to the physical office footprint and the remote access networks provisioned by IT administrators, business continuity must be ensured throughout the businesses’ many departments and management levels. For business leaders who may need a bit of assistance assembling a resilient business continuity strategy for the hazardous winter months, here are four keys to set them on the right path:

1. Prepare facilities for a freeze-out: Anyone who has endured the full spectrum of winter’s wrath knows that storms can come out of nowhere – and last for days on end. When it comes to business continuity, this means that facilities need to be prepped for the worst, including the possibility of a snowed-in overnight stay for staff members. A Marsh Risk Consulting report suggested filling the office with plenty of provisions and supplies – including backup generators and batteries – to ensure comfort and safety of all employees in the face of a major weather event.

2. Promote employee awarenessEven the smallest seed of ambiguity can develop into a chaotic cyclone of confusion when a winter storm interrupts a business’s operations, meaning that employee awareness needs to be a top priority in the orchestration of a business continuity plan. The Marsh Risk Consulting report urged decision-makers to set up a foolproof emergency notification system that keeps all staff members in the loop when confronted with a crisis scenario, offering precise direction and instruction for employees at all levels of the organizations.

3. Ensure data and app resilience: Leaders should prioritize the safety of their personnel first and foremost, but must not forget that their digital assets are critical to the ongoing productivity of their teams. This means developing a disaster recovery plan for each element of its IT infrastructure, from server operating systems to databases and individualized business applications. Establishing which tech components deserve prioritization during a worst-case scenario is a difficult but essential step to take when developing an overall business continuity strategy for the winter.

4. Provide an alternative workspace: Work-from-home strategies can keep productivity up in a pinch, but eventually, team members will need to collaborate face-to-face despite the forces of nature working against them. Telecommuting programs tend to offer only a fraction of the features that employees need to succeed, and in the event of a major regional outage, they may be cut off completely from their electronic options. Businesses must supplement their business continuity plans with dedicated workstations at which employees can rendezvous and accomplish objectives in a close-knit environment.

Cyberattacks expected to escalate in 2017, report warns

As the year winds its way to a close, if your business doesn't have a disaster recovery plan in place, there's no better time to take care of this need than right now. The reason? Not only because emergencies that require an immediate response can happen at anytime, but more specifically, the country could be hit by a wave of major cyberattacks in the new year, based on a newly released report.

In 2017, cyber warfare is expected to increase in prevalence, according to a recent projection by Forrester Research. The threats that are anticipated to ramp up include denial of service attacks, better known as DDoS, espionage, firewall breaches and ransomware. Furthermore, the potential fallout for businesses could be "significant."

Ransomware breaches up 400 percent this year
Perhaps the most hair-raising element to this dour prediction is the fact that many of the attacks that are expected to intensify next year were more common in 2016. As an example, more companies were besieged by ransomware, particularly businesses in the health care, financial services, hotel and accommodation and retail sectors, according to Beazley, an international specialty insurance firm. The company reported that the data responded to a 400 percent increase in ransomware breaches in 2016 on a year-over-year basis.

Information technology security experts believe that one of the reasons why cyberattacks are more commonplace today than at any other time in recent memory is due to the growth in opportunities, this being the Internet of Things era. Additionally, a number of today's business owners – both large and small – aren't taking the threats as seriously as they ought to, according to Trent Telford. CEO of the internet security firm Covata.

"The harsh reality is that cyber security is not even on the radar of many manufacturers," Telford told Reuters. "Security will eventually become more of a priority, but it may well be too late for this generation of IoT users."

It's further believed that as many – if not more – than 500,000 internet-of-things devices will be hacked into in the coming year, 24/7 Wall St. reported from Forrester Research's findings. Some of these attacks could be highly publicized, getting as much attention as threats from previous years, like when Target and J.P Morgan Chase experienced massive breaches, occurring in 2013 and 2014, respectively. The investment bank reported at the time that the information of over 80 million households and small businesses were exposed. For the office supply retailer, the attack laid bare credit card data of over 1.5 million customers.

Retail will be one of several sectors affected by an uptick in cybercrime in 2017, according to a new report. Retail will be one of several sectors affected by an uptick in cybercrime in 2017, according to a new report.

Financial services firms have been in cyberattackers' crosshairs on an ever-increasing basis, and the sector may be ill-prepared for the fallout should attacks grow more common. Risk monitoring platform SecurityScorecard warned earlier this year that the sector as a whole is "highly susceptible'' to being compromised, saying that 95 percent of the U.S.' most income-rich commercial banks have a data security system setup that ranks no better than a "C" average.

Fortune 1000 company could fail next year after breach
​If Forrester Research's projections prove prophetic, another internet threat could be lying in wait, and the effects could be crippling. The firm forecasts that a Fortune 1000 company in 2017 may fold because the aftermath is too costly to surmount, 24/7 Wall St. referenced.

A disaster recovery plan can guard against these threats, but this kind of strategy is particularly effective when implemented in partnership with a service provider that specializes in business continuity. At Continuity Centers, we're all about recovery. Our clients that have take advantage of our Instant Business Recovery technology can testify to this, as with the touch of a button, IT threats were thwarted and applications spared from further damage. The same outcome is available to you by partnering with us.