Anyone tasked with maintaining the business continuity that is essential to the operations of today’s ‘always-on’ enterprises needs to think strategically about preparing to ride out two key disaster scenarios: extreme weather events and cyberattacks.

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Weather induced disruption costs time and money

Climate change means that the frequency, intensity and duration of storms, wildfires and other extreme heat or cold related weather events is growing around the globe. According to NASA, the next decades will see storm surges and high tides combine with rising sea levels to further increase flooding in many regions. Consequently, organisations need to be prepared to deal with so-called ‘once in a lifetime’ severe weather events that are now increasingly commonplace.

Weather-induced business disruption and unplanned outages cost companies dearly in terms of lost employee productivity, physical disaster recovery, and sales or revenue shortfalls. 

Without a proactive disaster recovery and emergency response plan in place, firms risk becoming one of the more than 30 percent of businesses that never reopen their doors following a catastrophic weather event.

Expect the unexpected

Dealing with the growing impact of weather-related events and natural disasters isn’t the only challenge on the horizon. The growing range, frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks has also served to increase the pressure on business continuity planning. So much so that security teams are now uniformly of the view that attacks on the enterprise’s infrastructure and data is no longer a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’.

From a pragmatic standpoint, this means that security and business continuity teams need to work hand in glove to ensure that data is recoverable, so that operations can be efficiently resumed in the event of a ransomware attack.

Investing in disaster recovery strategies that will protect an organisation from the effects of significant negative events and enable the fast resumption of mission-critical functions is the key to enabling business continuity. And planning to maintain business continuity is now a top goal for organisations that want to ensure they can access their apps, data and operating systems no matter what.

Forward planning always pays off 

Every successful business continuity plan features a robust disaster recovery (DR) strategy that is focused on addressing two primary concerns: restoring IT infrastructure as fast as possible and preventing as much data loss as possible from the point at which disaster strikes.

In terms of enabling a faster relaunch of mission-critical functions and services, instigating high availability IT infrastructure failovers in the data centre (DC) and replicating application servers and data in real-time to an alternative DC location with available hosting infrastructure will deliver the workload protection that’s needed. 

In other words, never put all your eggs in one basket and never rely on just one data centre to handle all your critical workloads.

Diversify and partner to safeguard continuity

The most proven way to prevent a failure in software continuity is to engage a backup platform. Having a secondary storage site will ensure that data, applications, and business processes are protected against any data centre failure that can occur as a result of a natural disaster. 

However, few businesses have infinite resources or time to invest in their business continuity processes or infrastructure. So taking steps to partner with an Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider that offers disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) capabilities will deliver the tried-and-tested reliability and recovery that is needed to prevent a gap in operations.

The key here is to choose a hosting provider that occupies multiple DCs in numerous geographies, so that if one region experiences a power-out, continuity of service can still be maintained. By hosting data in one or more geographically dispersed DCs, organisations can boost both latency and recovery times.

To assure data security, your IaaS-hosted data centres should have multiple layers of security in place that limit access to data, protect against physical attacks and keep servers safe from intruders. These measures should include 24x7 video surveillance, alarms, card key access and electric fencing.

Forward recovery planning that pays off

Replicating data, initiating comprehensive security policies and eliminating vulnerabilities are all minimum requirements for continuity planning. And when it comes to protecting against events like a ransomware attack, the more critical operations that can be replicated and backed by good structure and policies, the better the chances of mitigating against potential damage. 

Replication will help ensure that any infected environment can be repaired and restarted while business continues, but today’s ransomware attackers now also look for backup files to encrypt as well as live data.

To assure the effective backup and protection of data across physical, virtual and cloud environments, organisations should opt for highly scalable and flexible backup options with integrated encryption and cybersecurity policies. Ideally, this should include built-in AI-based anti-ransomware technologies that prevent cybercriminals from exploiting OS or application security gaps. 

The rising tide of ransomware means that establishing an integrated cyber protection process that keeps the entire distributed infrastructure safe – from data to applications to systems – is becoming a must have.

Security and continuity: the twin pillars of business-as-usual

The recent severe thunderstorms that caused flash flooding across London highlight why organisations need to have an airtight recovery plan in place that is regularly tested and appropriately fortified. But that’s not the only challenge organisations have to contend with.

Malware represents an ever-present and growing threat to daily operations. So protecting data and ensuring business continuity processes and procedures are in place for recovering affected systems is vital. Business continuity and cybersecurity approaches will need to be aligned to ensure consistent measures – including system and data backup and recovery plans - are in place. 

By focusing on identifying their business continuity priorities and working with technology supply chain partners that have the scale, resources, and accreditations to support identified security and continuity priorities, organisations should be well placed to ensure downtime is kept to an absolute minimum and they are able to respond appropriately to any situation.

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