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Hurricane season is here. These harsh weather events can produce devastating high-speed winds, torrential rains, and microbursts, and can bring your business to a grinding halt. To address the threat of hurricanes, your company should have an effective hurricane disaster recovery policy in place.

What is a hurricane disaster recovery plan?

A hurricane disaster recovery plan is a written set of procedures on how to respond to a hurricane. Just like a standard disaster recovery plan, this policy contains steps that should be taken before, during, and after a hurricane, including:

  • How to anticipate and mitigate the effects of a hurricane
  • Emergency procedures to ensure everyone’s safety
  • Steps for restoring vital business systems and operations
  • Long-term plans for full business recovery

How to create a hurricane disaster recovery plan

While each organization’s hurricane disaster recovery plan is unique to its industry, the basic framework should contain the following:

1. Risk assessment
Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment will help pinpoint vulnerabilities your company must address. This lets you prioritize the most critical parts of your planning and help you shape your hurricane disaster recovery policy.

2. Preventive planning
While it’s impossible to stop a hurricane, anticipating and carefully planning for it can help prevent serious damage to your business. Think about how people board up their windows before a hurricane strikes. You need to take preventive steps to protect vital aspects of your business from a hurricane. This includes:

  • Backing up your data
    Data backup is an important component of any disaster recovery strategy. Even if a hurricane does not completely destroy your IT infrastructure, the disruption caused by the loss of huge quantities of data can lead to lost productivity and revenue.Having a robust data backup system allows you to quickly restore vital business data and minimize downtime caused by a hurricane. Examples of data backup solutions include:

    • Off-site backups – Storing copies of your backups in off-site data backup centers in areas rarely hit by hurricanes is an ideal solution. This ensures that you will have secure copies of your data even if your servers and computers are destroyed during a hurricane.
    • Cloud storage – Cloud storage lets you access your data and files remotely, as long as you have a stable internet connection. This allows employees to work from home in case your offices suffer severe damage.
  • Protecting physical assets
    During a hurricane, the biggest threat to your servers and other electronic equipment is flooding and water damage. Here are some ways you can keep them safe.

    • Avoid storing servers in the basement, as this is usually the first area that will be flooded.
    • Choose a storage room with no water pipes in the walls and ceiling to prevent water from leaking in.
    • Install flood detectors to warn you if water enters your facility.
    • Invest in turtle shells to protect electrical equipment from leaks.

3. Response
This covers the emergency procedures that should be taken during a hurricane to minimize the risk of injury to employees, such as:

  • Guidelines on how to protect oneself from strong winds
  • Where to take refuge if trapped in the building
  • Evacuation policies to ensure everyone’s safety

You should also include the names and contact information of emergency personnel to ensure all safety measures are carried out properly.

4. Restoration
This contains steps on how to restore critical business operations and systems after a hurricane, and who will be responsible for the restoration process. It should include clear instructions on what needs to be restored first, such as:

  • Data backups
  • Power
  • Network access
  • Servers and other damaged equipment

Conducting a business impact analysis will identify critical business systems and help you formulate an effective restoration plan that will get your business back up and running as soon as possible.

5. Recovery
Even if your company restores vital systems quickly, you still need a complete, long-term recovery plan. It should include details on how the company will fully restore operations to pre-hurricane levels. Here are some examples:

  • Repairing of damaged structures
  • Replacement of destroyed equipment
  • Relocation of business if needed
  • Returning the workforce to full capacity

Hurricanes are unpredictable, but having a disaster recovery plan in place will help you recover as quickly as possible. Talk to our experts today to learn more about disaster recovery planning.

If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Power outages are a major inconvenience to businesses. Even a few hours without electricity can lead to thousands of dollars in lost productivity and revenue. Fortunately, there’s something businesses like yours can do to reduce the effects of power outages, and that’s using an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) for your computers and networking equipment. Read on to learn more about the benefits of using a UPS for your network hardware.

UPS for network equipment

Also known as a battery backup, a UPS provides backup power in case of outages. It also protects against power surges, which don’t just damage computers, but also make you lose unsaved work.

Deploying UPS units for Wi-Fi routers and modems allows you to stay connected to the internet when the power goes out unexpectedly. This strategy works particularly well if your employees use laptops, as that means you only need power for your Wi-Fi gear.

UPS-supported modems or routers help you stay online for as long as 90 minutes, which should be enough time to get your bearings before power finally runs out. With a UPS, you will still have a fast, reliable Wi-Fi connection so you can perform your tasks, save important files, and keep serving customers.

Without a UPS, your staff may have to rely on cellular data to do their work, which is not only less reliable than Wi-Fi, but also more expensive. You may even incur additional telecom costs resulting from overreliance on cellular data.

UPS systems vs. generators

Although generators are indispensable for certain businesses, they also require greater upkeep. If you invest in generators, you’ll need to employ an entire team to manage these pieces of high-maintenance equipment. This may not be something that a small- or medium-sized business can afford.

That said, generators can prove useful during extended blackouts, but UPS systems should be enough to keep your business running in the event of an emergency.

What’s more, misusing or mishandling generators can result in fatalities. On the other hand, if you misuse a UPS unit or if it breaks down, the worst that could happen is you lose a day’s work; it’s unlikely that you’ll experience anything life-threatening.

Plug in your network gear now

If your business doesn’t have locations in disaster-prone areas, you probably haven’t given much thought to installing UPS systems for your desktop computers, let alone your modems and routers. But accidents and emergencies are inevitable — and when they happen, you’ll find that having internet access is one of the most important things you need to ensure business continuity.

Think of a UPS as an investment that not just protects your systems from data loss, but also keeps your network equipment functioning in emergency situations.

To learn more about UPS systems and network equipment as well as backup and disaster recovery planning, give our team of IT experts a call today.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Data is everything to a small business in this day and age – which means if you lose access or control of your data, you lose everything.

As dramatic as that might sound, the data backs that up. According to several sources, 93% of companies, no matter how big they are, are out of business within one year if they suffer a major data disaster without having first formulated a strategy for combating it. And since 68% of businesses don’t have any sort of plan for that worst-case scenario, that means losing data would be a death knell for most of the businesses in the country.

Fortunately, your business does not have to be one of them. By taking the following steps, you can ensure that you have a rock-solid disaster recovery plan in place.

Step 1: Know How A Disaster Recovery Plan Is Different From A Business Continuity Plan

The main difference between these two types of plans is that while business continuity plans are proactive, disaster recovery plans are reactive.

More specifically, a business continuity plan is a strategy by which a business ensures that, no matter what disaster befalls it, it can continue to operate and provide products and services to its customers. A disaster recovery plan, on the flip side, is a strategy by which businesses can back up and recover critical data should it get lost or held for ransom.

So, now that we have a clear, concise understanding of what constitutes a disaster recovery plan, we can dive into the steps necessary to create one.

Step 2: Gather Information And Support

In order to get the ball rolling on your disaster recovery plan, start with executive buy-in. This means that everyone, from the CEO to the entry-level employees, needs to be brought in on executing the plan in case your company suffers a data disaster. When everyone is aware of the possibility of a data disaster, it allows for cross-functional collaboration in the creation process – a necessary step if you want to prevent breaches in all parts of your systems.

You need to account for all elements in your tech systems when you’re putting together your disaster recovery plan, including your systems, applications and data. Be sure to account for any issues involving the physical security of your servers as well as physical access to your systems. You’ll need a plan in case those are compromised.

In the end, you’ll need to figure out which processes are absolutely necessary to keep up and running during a worst-case scenario when your capability is limited.

Step 3: Actually Create Your Strategy

When everyone is on board with the disaster recovery plan and they understand their systems’ vulnerabilities, as well as which systems need to stay up and running even in a worst-case scenario, it’s time to actually put together the game plan. In order to do that, you’ll need to have a good grip on your budget, resources, tools and partners.

If you’re a small business, you might want to consider your budget and the timeline for the recovery process. These are good starting points for putting together your plan, and doing so will also give you an idea of what you can tell your customers to expect while you get your business back up to full operating capacity.

Step 4: Test The Plan

Even if you complete the first two steps, you’ll never know that you’re prepared until you actually test out your disaster recovery plan. Running through all the steps with your employees helps them familiarize themselves with the steps they’ll need to take in the event of a real emergency, and it will help you detect any areas of your plan that need improvement. By the time an actual data disaster befalls your business, your systems and employees will easily know how to spring into action.

So, to review, these are the quick actions that you and your employees will need to take in order to make a successful, robust disaster recovery plan:

  • Get executive buy-in for the plan.
  • Research and analyze the different systems in your business to understand how they could be impacted.
  • Prioritize systems that are absolutely necessary to the functioning of your business.
  • Test your disaster recovery plan to evaluate its effectiveness.

Complete these steps, and you can ensure that your business will survive any data disaster that comes your way.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 miles per hour (as fast as Category 5 storms) and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage in case of floods.

Use image-based backups

Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in them. From there, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud

The cloud enables you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently

Back up your data as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan

After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after a disaster. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during a hurricane, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company should have.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Some of the most well-known companies in the world, including Sony Pictures, Home Depot, Adobe, and eBay, have been victims of cyberattacks. While major corporations like these are high-profile targets for hackers, small- and medium-sized businesses are not exempt from data breaches. And because it may be difficult or impossible to undo any damage caused by cybercriminals, it’s imperative for any business — regardless of their size — to take steps to fortify their systems. The following security tips can help guard company data.

Use two-factor authentication

Using a complicated password to secure your system is not an effective way to level up your cybersecurity. That’s because having to memorize a difficult password often pushes users to set that same complex password for multiple accounts. And if a hacker gets a hold of a recycled password, there’s a high probability that they could access all your accounts that use that same password.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your systems and accounts. 2FA comes in many forms: it can be a biometric verification in the devices that you own or a time-sensitive auto-generated code sent to your mobile phone. This security feature works similarly to how websites would require you to confirm your email address to ensure that you are not a bot.

Encrypt all data

Encryption is an effective obstruction to hackers, since it scrambles and descrambles data every time someone tries to read it. Encryption also causes compatibility issues if the data is not being accessed via a company’s own network systems. While applying encryption can be expensive, it is certainly well worth the money because it protects your data in case it falls into the wrong hands.

Keep systems up to date

Hackers are always upgrading their tools to take advantage of outdated security systems, so companies should keep up to protect their valuable technology resources. Many companies don’t install software updates immediately, and that’s a huge problem. Updates often close existing security loopholes, which is why delayed installation can mean exposing your systems to external attacks. Keep your data safe by installing software updates as soon as they are released.

Back up frequently

Implementing several layers to your security doesn’t ensure that hackers won’t find their way into your systems. This is why you need to back up data frequently, whether it’s on-site, off-site, or by way of cloud backups. In the worst-case scenario where your systems do get infiltrated, you can restore lost data from your backups.

Monitor connectivity

Many businesses have no idea how many of their devices are connected online at a given time, so it’s very hard for them to keep track of which of these should actually be online. Sometimes, a company’s computers and servers are online when they don’t need to be, making these tempting and easy targets for attackers. It’s advisable to configure business servers properly to guarantee that only necessary machines are online and that they’re well-protected at all times.

It’s much more expensive to recover from a data breach than to prevent one. If you’re looking to protect your business IT systems from potential threats, contact us today so we can help.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Businesses rely heavily on data for their daily operations. They use it for everything, from building client relationships to developing marketing strategies and so much more. But without data backups, businesses risk losing data in case of a disaster. Every business owner must develop a robust backup plan for their business, which includes implementing any or all of the following solutions.

USB flash drives

USB flash drives are data storage devices that include flash memory with an integrated USB interface. These devices are not just inexpensive and portable, but they can also be used to back up data from several computers.

However, USB flash drives are easy to misplace, which is why they’re not suitable for long-term data storage. They are better used as intermediate backups.

External hard drives

External hard drives are portable hard drives that can be connected to a computer through a USB port. These devices have the lowest cost per gigabyte compared to other backup devices and boast quick transfer rates, allowing users to back up a large amount of data within seconds.

One of the drawbacks of using external hard drives is that you’ll need to update your backups regularly to include new files. There’s also the risk of the device being misused or stolen. For example, an employee might use the drive for storing personal files or take it with them when they quit.

Network-attached storage (NAS)

NAS is a dedicated server for storing data, and it can also be used as an email server. It has its own IP address and can operate either wired or wirelessly. NAS also offers data redundancyㅡ it generates a backup of your backups, ensuring that your files are fully protected.

On the downside, NAS can’t be scaled beyond system limits. This means that you have to purchase additional hard drive bays if you need more capacity. NAS is also vulnerable to malware, and you have to configure it a certain way to keep it protected.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular among businesses because of its many benefits. For one, it allows users to access their data from anywhere using any internet-connected device. It also enables businesses to pay for only the resources they use. Lastly, cloud service providers (CSPs) handle the installation, management, and maintenance processes themselves, allowing you to focus on more important business matters.

However, some CSPs don’t implement sufficient security measures on their systems, potentially exposing data to cyberthreats. This makes cloud storage an unsuitable solution for medical practices, law firms, and other organizations that handle sensitive data. To use the cloud, businesses in these sectors must find a service provider that implements top-of-the-line cybersecurity protocols and specializes in data regulations compliance.

Choosing the best backup solution has far-reaching impacts on your business. Each method or device has trade-offs, which is why you need to select the one best suited to your business’s needs. Enlist the help of our experts to ensure you make the right choice.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Over the past several years, the debate about cloud technology in business has moved away from “Is it a safe option?” to “How can I move more of my tools to the cloud?” There is an overwhelming number of options and many business owners don’t know where to start. If that’s the position you find yourself in, we recommend starting with six basic tools.

Email

Every business needs email. And while there are plenty of non-cloud options to choose from, they require a lot of maintenance. Opting for cloud-based email means you pay for the service without worrying about hardware requirements or software updates. These issues, among others, will be handled by the provider and backed by service level guarantees.

File storage

Storing company files in the cloud is a great way to give employees more mobility and flexibility. Everyone can access information from almost any internet-enabled device without compromising security, since providers include things like encryption and multi-factor authentication as part of the monthly service fee.

You can opt for either DIY cloud storage such as Microsoft’s OneDrive and Dropbox or a slightly more expensive managed solution that will provide customization opportunities and regulatory compliance management.

Document creation and collaboration

It’s easy to confuse apps like Office 365 and Google Docs with cloud file storage but they’re not the same. What sets them apart is whether or not you can edit documents stored on these platforms. In most cases, multiple users can alter the same document simultaneously and see mirror images on their screens even if they’re hundreds of miles apart.

Between faster document turnaround times and fewer separate versions of files, there’s no reason to keep everything offline. Business owners used to worry about security but vendors today invest 100 times more resources in protecting client info than a small operation could ever match.

Server hosting

Whether your business requires a single low-scale server or several high-powered ones, it’s becoming harder to justify maintaining those at your physical location. They’re too finicky and expensive compared to their cloud alternatives.

Server hosting enables you to accomplish via an app all that you could with in-house hardware. The costs are also spread out month to month rather than all at once during the setup phase.

Backup and recovery

The entire basis of cloud technology is that you have total access to hardware and software that’s located far from your office. That makes things like cloud file storage and server hosting perfect for recovering from a disaster. If a natural disaster or cyberattack renders your office inoperable, all you need to do is log in to your cloud platform from somewhere else.

If you are looking to move your business into the cloud, we have a broad range of products tailored to small businesses.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE