When Was Your Last Security Audit?

Picture this…scream

It’s the middle of the night, you’re drifting off into a wonderful dream. Suddenly, you are rudely awoken by your phone. You try to ignore it, but its incessant ringing drags you back to full consciousness. As you listen to the frantic voice at the other end, in seconds, you are wide awake…

“We’ve had a disaster, we’ve lost the lot!”

IT has made all our lives a lot easier, but when it goes wrong it can cause a major disaster.

Did you know that due to inadequate responses to a disaster:

  • 70% of companies who suffer an IT disaster go bust within 18 months
  • 90% of business interruptions were caused by IT hardware and software problems
  • £1.1 billion was lost to British industry in 1997 due to IT disasters

How prepared are you?

Do you know how vulnerable your company is?

What would you do if you lost your computer systems?

If you answered ‘don’t know’ to either of those questions, you need some help.

Your IT infrastructure is the life blood of your company, without it you’re going know where. Just think about how much that will cost you – if everything came to a grinding halt.

That’s why it’s essential you invest in regular security audits. By having a full review of your systems carried out, you will understand how you can best protect your business.

Make sure you’re fully protected for a safe and prosperous 2012.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides full IT security audits for sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Disaster Recovery Can Be Done On a Budget

Disaster recovery planFor many business owners, the term “Disaster Recovery Plan” sounds expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

However, it is a necessity.

No one likes to look on the gloomy side of life, but disasters do happen. Every small business (regardless of size or industry sector) should have some form of disaster plan in place – just in case.

After all, it only takes a laptop being carelessly left lying around containing sensitive data, or a disgruntled employee, customer or bored teenager, to break into your systems to shut you down for weeks.

Be prepared

Your disaster recovery plan will minimise opportunities for lost data and maximise the opportunities to recover the data.

The best way to do that is to store copies of your data at on off-site location by either:

  • Hiring a service provider to physically pick up copies of your data daily from your office
  • Electronically transmit the data to a remote location
  • Hire a service bureau

You must also become familiar with your data, equipment, key personnel, procedures and supplier relationships. This will help you create a plan that’s right for your business.

It may be the case that you have the expertise you need amongst your staff to devise and implement your plan. However, it may be wise to get help from an external IT support company.

Tools

Electronic systems for disaster recovery are fast and safe. Microsoft offers several key disaster recovery features in its products for small businesses, such as:

  • Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 – protects work, prevents data loss, and restored deleted filed with automatic data backups
  • Windows Vista – offers Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore
  • Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services –  preserves email access during and after emergency situations

Know your data

Do you know how much data you have?

Don’t worry, many businesses find it difficult to understand how much they have, what they have and where they have it. But this information is critical to establishing your backup requirements.

Test your plan

You should aim to test your plan once a quarter so staff understand their responsibilities and roles within your disaster plan.

Don’t panic

If the worst happens, don’t panic.

It may not be as bad as you think. After all, how many times have you thought you’d lost data only to realise it had been saved in a different location to normal?

Should a real disaster strike, you need experts who can help recover your data and a plan for how your employees will be able to continue with their work.

A good recovery plan is like an insurance policy – you need to spend enough to make sure you survive, but no so much that your business can’t sustain the cost.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Disaster Recovery Planning

scream10 tips for disaster planning

Successful disaster recovery depends on having a realistic and well understood set of objectives based on your business needs. This involves planning and preparation:

  • From the business impact analysis
  • Understanding and quantifying risks
  • Classifying and prioritising applications and data recoverability

Your Disaster Recovery plan should also be documented. But this isn’t a one off exercise; the dynamic nature of IT means your plan should be continuously reviewed and updated. Plus continual investment in new technologies to provide higher performance at lower costs is essential as it the need for data backups.

So what are the top 10 tips?

1. Linking your business and IT

The creation of your Disaster Recovery plan should be seen as best practice and not pitted against cost. Cutting corners here could prove very costly indeed so make sure it is integrated with your businesses day to day priorities.

2. Plan across the board

Your Disaster Recovery plan won’t work unless you take all your functional IT areas into consideration. Constantly ask yourself ‘what if’ and think about downtime and your loss tolerances. Your plan also needs to take into account everything during and after a disaster.

3. Keep it current

Although you hope and pray you’ll never need it, your plan should always be at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Once in place make sure it is maintained and amended to reflect your changing IT landscape.

4. Test

Yes it’s a complete pain and quite a major undertaking but how will you know if your plan will work unless you test it? Best to find out its shortfalls before it’s really needed.

5. Be realistic

Being realistic is vital in both your recovery point objective and recovery time objective.

6. Who is responsible?

The last thing you want is everyone heading for the hills when things go wrong. Make sure everyone knows the part they have to play.

7. Risk

Think of your Disaster Recovery Plan as an insurance policy – how much and what kind of insurance does your business need? And what risks are you prepared to take? You could be looking at a disaster such as flood or fire or it could be a systems failure. Take a look at all aspects of your business to make sure everything is covered.

8. Backup

What kind of backup do you use? Make sure  the medium you use works should it be needed. After all there’s no point in having a plan if you can’t retrieve your data.

9. Accessibility

If you house your backup data in an off site premises will you still be able to reach it if you need to? It sounds odd but if your office is victim to a fire and you keep your backup data in a building nearby – are you going to be able to get to it? Is it likely to also be affected?

10. Cost

Disaster Recovery plans can be expensive and is often a cost that many businesses simply can’t absorb. But what’s the alternative? How much will it cost your business if it all goes wrong and you don’t have a plan in place? It should be seen as an investment – it’s your peace of mind that when the worse happens your business will survive.

No one ever wants to think about the bad stuff that can happen but, a fact of life is it will happen to someone sooner or later.

Don’t leave your business exposed. If you’re unsure how to proceed find an expert who can help you with your Disaster Recovery Plan. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.