Being prepared for any scenario is important to the continuity of any business. In fact, FEMA reported that 40% of small businesses impacted by hurricanes do not immediately reopen, and 25% close within a year.
For large, established businesses and multinational corporations, IT security begins with the formal IT department. From the CIO on down, policies are established, and rules are enforced. That top-town structure is designed to enhance IT security and minimize the risk of a devastating loss of data or data breach, allowing everyone inside of the company and out to breathe a little easier.
That may be fine for those large firms, but things become a bit trickier when it comes to small businesses. Few small businesses can afford a formal IT department, and many startups are forced to make do with an improvised IT infrastructure.
Restoration 1 knows that small businesses, without a formalized IT infrastructure and firm data protection policies in place, can be sitting ducks when a hurricane or any natural disaster is imminent.
No matter how big or small your business is, there are steps any business can take to protect your customers, safeguard your data and protect the firm you have worked so hard to build. Here are some timely data security tips for small businesses that do not have a formal IT infrastructure in place.
[Read Here: Hurricane Dorian Preparation List]
Prioritize Your Data
While all of your business data is important, many businesses find themselves scrambling last minute at the turn of something as serious as a hurricane. Often, companies are put in the sticky situation of picking and choosing what to save.
You never want to find yourself in this situation, but if you do, instead of trying to back up all your files at the last minute, prioritize the data that will be the biggest loss to your company and take what you can.
Have (and Test) a Data Backup Strategy
To remain competitive in today’s business society, businesses depend on information technology. The technology centers around software, hardware, and data. Without access to data, business quickly comes to a screeching halt.
Loss of important data can be devastating, but these scares from natural disasters will lose their power when a business has a solid backup plan in place.
If your files are backed up on a regular basis, the threat to your data for is far less frightening. But, it is not enough to have a data backup plan in place; if you want to be truly prepared, you need to test those backups on a regular basis.
Making those ongoing tests a priority could serve you well, preserving the trust of your customers and possibly even saving your business from losing its most important assets.
- Work with your I/S team to ensure that backups are performed in a timely manner and that they are stored in a facility that is safe, secure and dependable.
- If you utilize a recovery services vendor, store your data near this provider.
- If your recovery window is extremely short, consider utilizing electronic vaulting technology. This will allow data to be transferred to an alternate recovery site in a matter of minutes.
These measures will ensure that your data is where you need it to be in a recovery. Since there is advance warning when a hurricane approaches, it is important to transport your data quickly and at the first sign of trouble.
Air and freight transportation may likely be discontinued when a hurricane approaches, so it is important that you ship your data to an alternate recovery site or secured facility as quickly as possible.
Utilize the warning period. Hurricanes are the only event that gives you the opportunity to do this before the disaster strikes.
Protect Your Electronics
Take electronic devices including point-of-sale devices, computers, phones, credit card machines, and printers and put them someplace you know will stay dry and protected from storm damage. It could be a waterproof plastic bin, or even consider bringing them home with you.
Invest in an IT Security Audit
Until you know where you are now, you cannot truly know where you need to go. Without a formal IT department or standard IT infrastructure, you need to be extra careful, which is why a security audit is so important.
Conducting a thorough IT security audit could uncover weaknesses you may not have found on your own, giving you a place to start and helping you improve your operations.
Once the security audit is complete, the IT expert you hire can provide a list of next steps so you can further secure your network and keep your data safe.
Protect Your Business Location
Protecting your work site facilities and equipment is instrumental in continuing or restoring operations in the event of a hurricane. Ways to do this include Uninterruptible Power Supply (batteries and generators), backup water sources and a supply of gasoline powered pumps to keep the lower levels of the facility clear of flood waters.
Boarding up windows and other vulnerable apertures can protect a building from high-speed flying debris, which has been known to severely damage structures in a severe hurricane.
Mitigation should also be a consideration. Constructing facilities away from flood plains and fault zones could eliminate or minimize flooding possibilities. If facility shutdown must occur, work with your team to establish shutdown procedures and ensure that they are part of your overall recovery plan.
Don’t forget to include post procedures (start-up) to facilitate re-occupation of the site after the storm has moved on.
Train Your Employees (and Yourself) Well
The people you hire can be the weak link in your IT security chain – or your first line of defense. If you want your employees to be an IT security asset, you should first focus on training and building knowledge.
There is a lot of information out there, but making sure your workers have the knowledge they need will take hard work and dedication. From formal classes in IT security to ongoing tests and fire drills, there are steps you can take to make sure your employees are prepared for a natural disaster and other emerging threats.
Training your employees is a critical IT security step, but, for the business owner, training yourself could be even more critical. As the owner of the company, you have a vested interest in IT security, and educating yourself on the latest data protection policies and technologies and how they work is always a good place to start.
Consider Outsourcing Your IT Infrastructure and Support
Building an IT infrastructure from the ground up is not for the faint of heart, especially for small business owners. Fortunately, small business owners do not have to go it alone – they can outsource their IT operations, including the security of their networks and their files.
For many small business owners, outsourced IT is the best solution to everything from ongoing security threats to reliable backups. If your small business lacks a formal IT infrastructure, it may be time to outsource those operations to an expert.
Remember, having a plan in place before a hurricane is your best line of defense. We have a hurricane preparedness plan you can download. FEMA has a plan that is accessible here: FEMA HURRICANE TOOLKIT.
If you have any commercial restoration needs during hurricane season, call Restoration 1.