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The Top 8 Necessities of a Business Continuity Plan

As the old saying goes, “Life isn’t about shielding yourself from the rain, it’s about discovering to thrive in the hurricane.” However, if you’re a small business, you initially need to preserve your data from the rainfall before you can pay for to dance in the hurricane with no concern. Natural disasters and cyber-attacks can hit you unexpectedly, costing your business thousands in revenue.

Your equipment might be destroyed, your workplace may be flooded as well as your essential service information breached. While some companies can take swift action to guarantee their stock and business are safeguarded from catastrophes, many of them have a tendency to forget the risk these tragedies present to their IT facilities as well as information.

Here are the Top 8 necessities your organization should include in developing a business continuity plan.

Is Your Business Prepared for Extended Downtime?

To countless business owners, it does not seem to pose a problem– and inevitably, this is where things fall apart. Information loss as a result of a disaster or any other factor can cause considerable harm to a business, leading to extreme effects such as total service downtime. Protecting your information shouldn’t be a strategy you wait to develop until after it’s been devastated. Here are the steps you can take to alleviate the risks calamities could present to your information as well as IT framework.

  1. Acknowledge the demand for information safety, protection as well as healing in times of calamity.
  2. Combine your key resources as well as produce a group that is accountable for executing your catastrophe back-up as well as recuperation strategy.
  3. Recognize the key locations that need to be attended to. In case of a disaster, what are the procedures that absolutely need to function to maintain your service going and what is required to be done so they still operate efficiently?
  4. Prepare a strong catastrophe recovery-business continuity plan. You can employ your in-house IT group or bring a managed it services provider onboard to do this.
  5. Create a checklist of all the software programs, applications and also equipment that are vital to your service process.
  6. Take account of floor plans, physical access information, entry-exit protection codes or anything pertaining to your business in the plan.
  7. Include material about your backups in the calamity recuperation and company strategy.
  8. Conduct simulated drills as well as audits to guarantee your strategy is executable and also provides you the intended outcomes.

All of this can feel like an immense undertaking, specifically with an organization to manage and a disaster to be on the look-out for! That’s why most SMB’s count on trusted managed service providers to do it for them, while they focus on their core area– running their service and partners.

Don’t Let a Disaster Blow your Data Away!

An unanticipated emergency situation can wipe out your service, however a proper information continuity strategy can aid in its endurance! So what should an excellent service connection strategy cover?

A checklist of your most important connections

Among the most important components in your organization connection plan is a list of all your essential contacts who must be informed of the catastrophe. This can include all your C-level execs, HR supervisors, IT Supervisor, client encountering supervisors, and so on.

An extensive checklist of your IT stock

Your organization continuity strategy must consist of a list of all the software programs, apps as well as equipment that you make use of in the day-to-day operations of your service. This listing ought to identify each of those as important or non-critical as well as point out information relating to each of them such as:

  • The name of the application/program.
  • Version/model number (for software/hardware).
  • Vendor name as well as connection details for each of them.
  • Warranty/support schedule details.
  • Contact information for client support for these applications.
  • Frequency of use.

Relevant Backup Data

Data backups are crucial to your disaster rehabilitation and so your service connection planning ought to feature information regarding data backups. It should state exactly how usually information is supported, in what styles as well as where. It should likewise mention what document back-ups are readily available– preferably, you need to be protecting ALL data as soon as possible! Especially if your business is transitioning its operations to remote work, you need to be prepared for anything.

What’s your Alternate Plan?

See to it your service connection program notes a backup procedures strategy that will certainly enter play in the event of a catastrophe. Examples consist of substitute operations such as options to function remotely or even to allow employees to bring their very own gadgets to work (BYOD) pending the time regular company premises or devices are ready.

Layout and site

Your service connection plan must also consist of a layout of your workplaces with the exit as well as entrance points plainly marked up, so they could be utilized in case of any sort of emergency. It must likewise mention the site of data centers, phones, essential IT devices and similar hardware.

Process classification

See to it your company continuity strategy specifies the standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to be complied with in the event of an unexpected emergency.

It’s Time to Start Planning!

Are you thinking business continuity planning is convoluted? Do not quit! A bunch of little & average sized companies don’t produce a company connection strategy thinking it is way too much of a problem. But this can easily show to be disastrous to your company eventually. A skilled MSP can aid you comprehend company connection preparing and also even aid you create a service connection plan that is best suited for your business!

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Businessman sick at home but can still access his data through the cloud

Why the Cloud is the Future of Business Continuity

What Business Continuity And The Cloud

The world is unpredictable. At any given moment, something can happen that disrupts ordinary life. It could be a natural disaster, a power outage, or a virus pandemic like the current coronavirus.

The disruptions that affect our livelihoods are the most severe. In earlier years, businesses forced to shut down would have to just take the profit loss and move on. Even now, a year later when businesses had to abruptly adapt to the evolving remote work climate, some businesses have yet to take the proper steps to adjust.

However, cloud computing, along with mobile devices, allow businesses and their employees to work from home or any location that has internet access. Although some employers might hesitate to move towards remote work, many modern companies are adopting it as a means to offer employees flexible working hours and to maximize productivity.

Major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce and Twitter have encouraged remote work during crisis periods. Businesses have to adapt to changes and shifts in the real world, accounting for factors that are outside of their control to thrive.

The flexibility of the cloud helps do just that, while adding value and benefits like shared access to information and stronger security.

Flexibility on the Cloud

Cloud technology enables remote work from any location, providing access through virtual machines with access to the same information they’d have access to working in the office. Various tools on the cloud ensures businesses continue their work as if they were in full operation.

Accessing data and documents when needed can be useful not only during power outages and natural disasters. If your business has multiple offices and additional locations, the cloud can help you adapt as you grow. On the cloud, employees can access all relevant information via a centralized server.

Managed IT services providers now offer cloud services along with IT support that creates a collaborative, secure environment.

Scale Your Business on the Cloud

Let’s say you’re a smaller business with limited physical space. Accommodating employees can be difficult and time-consuming as it is. Now imagine you’re a growing business, adjusting to a larger work is even harder.

A cloud infrastructure eliminates the difficulties of managing a growing number of employees because remote workers aren’t limited by office space. They can access information through the cloud on the device they choose in a comfortable location.

Access to data is configured through the cloud as long as new employees provide accurate login details. So whether you need to scale up or down, the cloud is an invaluable tool that works to your business needs.

Cyber Security on The Cloud

There’s a common misconception about the cloud being unsafe or less secure than the standard model of in house IT. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is cloud computing safe, additional security tools like multi-factor authentication and file encryption could mean your data is safer on the cloud.

These security tools should not be overlooked. Implementing additional security via the cloud helps prevent data loss or theft if a mobile device, portable laptop or tablets are lost or stolen themselves. Cybersecurity on the cloud ensures unauthorized users are barred from getting hold of valuable information.

Multi-factor authentication is set up so that if someone wishes to access the cloud, they must provide valid account details on multiple devices such as their phone. For example, I as an employee, can’t get on the cloud unless I verify the login attempt on my mobile device. If I do not respond within a definite amount of time, the login attempt is nullified and ignored.

Using the cloud on a secure business laptop to continue working remotely.

The Future of Business relies on the cloud

Remote work is changing the workplace entirely. Companies already embracing remote work as a way of attracting new employees. In a study conducted by Buffer.com, 99 percent of those interviewed admitted they would like to work off-site at least once in their career.

But more importantly, remote work is a safety net for businesses should something unforeseen occur. We’ve seen how an events like viruses, hurricanes and power outages can devastate businesses. What if employees can’t access the office?

Continuity Means Security

Having a plan in place in case of such events is extremely important. Moreover, having the tools necessary to carry out that plan is just as important. A business continuity plan can ensure a business survives the spontaneous hazards of the real world. The cloud is vital in achieving this.

If working in the office becomes a risk for whatever reason, can that business continue normal operations?

If not, how long can that business go without endangering itself or taking a financial hit?

How much money is a business willing to lose until normal operations can continue?

How long clients be able to cope without that business delivering products or services?

How long will employees hold out before getting frustrated and leaving?

These are all questions that should factor into any business related decision before, during and after a crisis of any kind.

Make sure to visit our website for more on cybersecurity, cloud, and tech related news!

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Hurricane destroying a business with no backup data, files, and continuity plan.

How to Prepare your Business for a Hurricane

ACCUweather, which provides global forecasting services,  predicted 12-14 storms in 2019. Of those, only about two to three strengthen enough to become a major storm (category 3-5). In 2020, hurricane season is projected to be “extremely active”. A research team at Colorado State University predicts 24 named storms, 12 total hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes.

It’s important that business owners understand what they can do to protect themselves and their workplace.

Preparing Your Business For A Hurricane

Storms can devastate homes, families and entire communities. For small businesses, recovering from hurricanes and tropical storms can take years. Sometimes, they don’t recover at all. The Golden Corral franchise restaurant in New Orleans suffered considerable damage after Hurricane Katrina.

Natural disasters can negatively affect businesses in a variety of ways. There are other kinds of disasters called operational disasters, which occur when a business loses an important manager or director, the conditions within the business become far too unfavorable to maintain productivity. Large and small businesses deal with the effects of disasters differently, mainly because larger businesses have more resources at their disposal for restoring their operations.

Create A Business Continuity Plan

The first thing to do before anything else is to create a business continuity plan as soon as possible, preferably long before hurricane season starts. A continuity plan can greatly improve your chances of a timely recovery after a hurricane, storm or any other natural disaster. Plans include detailed instruction for restoring operations after a natural disaster. Protect the components that are most responsible for sustaining operations first. It is important to make an appraisal of key elements within your business to really determine how you proceed.

51% of small businesses surveyed said that damage from a hurricane would be “extremely damaging” to their operation, according to survey by Womply. This is due to the damage that a hurricane deals to business assets during a storm. Networks, technology, equipment and data are among the litany of assets that are at risk during a hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a Continuity Resource tool kit which gives businesses insight into how to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and make quick recoveries from operational disruptions.

Back-Up Your Data As Soon as You Can

Where are your assets located? A software company, for example, may have servers that operate within a warehouse away from the office. In that case you would have to ensure there are protections put in place to secure them. Back-up your data as soon as possible. Make sure your data is secured off-site.

For example, Nerds Support data center is located in downtown Miami in a secure building that can withstand a category 5 hurricane. If a catastrophic hurricane, more powerful than a CAT 5 were to hit, the servers would be moved to another secure location away from danger with the uttermost care. With today’s technology this is easier than ever. Cloud based services function as a way to secure data and ensure functionality for businesses so that they can work remotely or recuperate necessary digital tools to continue their operation.

Establish A Plan of Communications

Hurricanes can severely impact communication with staff. That’s why it’s necessary to plan accordingly should a storm cut off your lines of communications. 

  • Build a reliable communication tree between you and personnel. Even you’re working remotely, power outages can create a chaotic environment for your business processes. Communication is essential to keep a business running during or after a storm. Also communicating after the storm will give you insight into what employees are dealing with. That will help you manage your business more effectively overall and resolve these issues appropriately. 
  • Prepare for interrupted computer lines, cell phones, emails and landlines. Give employees resources where they can learn about closures and updates regarding the storm. Share as much as possible so that no one member of your team knows more or less than another.

No Office No Limitations: Working From Home is No Hassle At All

You can work from a different location regardless of the weather conditions or circumstances. Your workforce will also need to adapt and work with you to expedite recovery, but that will necessitate effective leadership on your part as a business owner. Many companies now have a mobile workforce that often have to move from the office to the field or work remotely from another location.

You need a system of communication that allows you to access the bulk of your workforce if not everyone simultaneously. It is important that you keep track of everyone’s location in real time and establish a plan of action. Look into who within your workforce travels most frequently and where they travel to. Establishing clear communication from within your team is essential to preserving organization and even moral. Confusion and miscommunication can lead to exacerbate tension and anxiety and create a perception that the storm is more severe that it is.

Download our FREE e-book for more information on how to prepare for a storm and how to weather any natural disaster this hurricane season.  Or contact us today at 305-551-2009, there’s still time to get prepared.

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A data breach could cost your business everything if you don't have the correct remote cyber security measures in place.

The Cost of a Security Breach: Is it Always Business As Usual?

What is the Cost of a Cyber Breach?

A hacker stealing your information during a cyber breach is a bad situation. However, a hacker stealing your business’s information might be worse.

Running a successful business always implies a degree of risk. However, in today’s day and age, companies are finding themselves encountering a form of risk that often goes unnoticed: cyber attacks.

If a cyber criminal launches a cyber attack on your business the damage could be irreparable.

Think about it. A cyber attack leads to a huge loss of profit and productivity but thousands of dollars in fees. Not to mention the loss of business that follows.

The average cost from damage or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $879,582 in 2016 to $1,027,053 in 2017.  The average cost due to disruption to normal operations increased from $955,429 to $1,207,965.

Even worse than this, according to Inc. 60% of all small business fail within 6 months due to cyber attacks.

41 percent of companies have over 1,000 sensitive files open to everyone, according to research by the Varonis Data Labs.

How Do Cyber Attacks Work?

Cyber attackers look for unsecured folders the moment they gain access to a network. Why? Because folders open to global access groups.  Global access groups include everyone, domain users and authenticated users. This gives them easy access to business plans, customer and employee data, credit card information and much more.

Overexposed data presents a huge risk to businesses of all sizes regardless of the industry or location. For small and medium size businesses, however, it could mean millions of dollars in losses, reimbursements, and legal fees that end up bankrupting the business.

Small businesses are often targets of cyber crime, yet invest less than $500 in cyber security.

What Are The Most Common Types of Attacks?

 

In the Ponemon study, 48 percent of small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) report social engineering/phishing were the most common kind of attack.

54 percent of respondents in the study claimed data breaches occurred due to negligent employees or contractor.

Cyber Attacks in Remote Work

Phishing attacks:

Phishing is considered the top cause of data breaches. Hackers send apparently legitimate emails with dangerous links or attached documents. When a target clicks on the link or opens the attachment, a hacker gains access to their device. The link will contain malware or ransomware that corrupts and freezes important data.

Employees might work on personal devices which might not have the same protections as a company owned computer. As a result, the personal device might be more vulnerable to malware and other viruses. Make sure you use a company issued device whenever possible. Not just for the sake of the company, but for the sake of the remote employee as well. No one benefits when a device is breached.

Insecure Passwords:

53 percent of people rely on memory to keep track of their passwords. Therefore, they choose passwords that are easy to remember.  That makes it easy for a hacker to decipher an employees password by simply going through social media. It allows hackers to even access various accounts if the employee is using the same password.

Wi-Fi Security in a Remote environment: 

In an office environment, IT departments can protect employees and control network security. In a remote environment, however, employees probably don’t have the same protections. Hackers exploit networks with WEP security protections rather than WPA2, for example.  WEP settings are the standard Wi-Fi protection for average users.Even inexperienced hackers can download tools that allow them to break through this type of network.

Remote workers don’t realize how insecure they are until something happens. All remote employees need to consider what type of network they have at home before accessing company data. Using a VPN (virtual private network) also helps in protecting against certain types of attacks on remote workers.

During the lock-down period in 2020, there were record spikes in cyber attacks on remote workers. Hackers leverage remote workers’ devices to gain access to systems that would otherwise be more secure.

The Damage You Don’t See

Even assuming an SMB survives a cyber attack financially, the reputational damage would be just as catastrophic.

Security is everything in a business, both internally and to prospective clients. If a cybercriminal hacks your business, exposing your data, no one will want to take the risk of doing business with your company. The perception that your business is unreliable or even a liability can destroy your credibility and tank your business completely.

In the worst of scenarios, you may not even notice you’ve been breached for weeks or months, at which point recovery will be next to impossible.

One of the reasons so many businesses fail is because they have an inadequate strategy for managing cyber attacks.  SMB’s may have fire walls, anti-virus software, malware protection, and encryption but they don’t plan for the event of an actual breach.

While businesses focus on keeping attackers out, the actual data itself remains accessible and vulnerable to attack.

Businesses are losing more records in a data breach. Companies represented in the Ponemon study lost an average of more than 9,350 individual records as a result of a data breach in 2017, an increase from an average of 5,079 in the 2016.

A business needs a fully redundant system to access their applications and data and regular offline backups stored in multiple onsite and offsite locations.

Nerd Support’s experienced team can guarantee a secure business and keep your data safe. A breach doesn’t have to mean failure.

With a business continuity plan that is tailored to your needs your needs, you can get peace of mind knowing your information is safe.

Contact us today for a FREE IT Test! Or call us at 305-551-2009.

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Three Easy Ways to Improve your Security

Cloud-based storage and computing lets you get out of the IT business and focus on doing running your business. It’s also, as we’re about to see, far more secure than traditional servers and storage.

Even now, more companies are depending on the benefits of cloud tech for remote work.

Furthermore, there are many big name companies that have found success by migrating to the cloud.

If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll see the writing on the wall. Cloud technology is essential for businesses’ success.

So without further ado, here are three ways to take advantage of cloud security:

1. Move your files to the cloud

Cloud file sharing and storage saves you from disaster. Say bye to lost attachments, file size limits and unsecure collaboration. More importantly, it puts the security of your files in the heavily-protected server room of an IT partner or technology provider – so you have a far safer back-up of all your files as well. It’s the easiest of all the cloud security steps and it dramatically improves your security overnight.

Security

Business owners use the cloud because the data stored on it is safe. Why is it safe? Because data stored on the cloud is distributed through redundant servers and never stored in just one place. Meaning, hardware failure of any kind becomes a non-issue.

If there is damage to your hardware due to a flood, storm or any other reason, your information remains secure.If a company like Cisco is vulnerable to a power outage chances are you are too.

Cloud servers also have automatic backups and multi-factored authentication to prevent data loss or theft.

This is especially helpful if your company has valuable or sensitive data. Security features on the cloud help protect against social engineering techniques like email scams. However,  there are also safe practices when emailing that can help mitigate threats.

Cost Savings

Annual operation costs drop significantly when using the cloud. Rather than pay for Internal IT software, everything is stored online or in a private server. Separate storage becomes unnecessary and so does much of your hardware and software costs.

Easy Sharing

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Dropbox, you’re probably familiar with file sharing. File sharing is function of the cloud. A cloud environment facilitates remote work, communication and increased productivity as a result.

CIA uses the cloud for their most sensitive data and workloads

2. Move your applications to the cloud

Save over $30,000 a year by switching to the cloud per application

You probably already use cloud apps too. Facebook, Gmail, Slack or Office365 are all examples of cloud tech. However, you can also put your most important on-site apps, the ones stored on your computer, on the cloud. Application virtualization transforms any non-cloud app into a cloud-based app, easy, so your users  can access it from any device. 

Examples include :

1 . Quickbooks

2. Descartes

3. Thomas Reuter

For example, Nerds Support is a Quickbooks hosting provider. Which means businesses looking to adopt Quickbooks application services through us. Cloud based applications like Quickbooks are the best options for businesses that need to work remotely. Quickbooks hosting for remote work is a popular option among medium and small business for its accessibility.

Those times that you leave your laptop at home and have to rush back to pick it up before your 10 am meeting are gone. You can access that Excel and Powerpoint presentation in an instant.

Automation & Backups 

Creating data backups is among the biggest issues businesses face. Between dealing with complex client data, customer service, and business operations, it’s hard to remember to back up files and valuable information. This makes you vulnerable to data loss. With cloud storage, data backups are automated and routinely performed to prevent data loss or correct data mistakes that may arise. 

Data backups are good for medium and small businesses for many reasons. They also prevent ransomware attacks like the ones that plagued New Orleans in 2019.

3. Move your desktops to the cloud

Managing many PCs is a lot of work and can lead to many unsecure devices. Simply because businesses don’t have good data management practices. Your users can work on any device, any browser, anytime. And if they leave their laptop in an Uber, the airport, or at home, no problem.

Contact us today to start migrating your apps to the cloud. 

Outsourcing your tech responsibilities creates opportunities to scale and grow your business. But also consider what kind of cloud provider you’re trusting with your operation? You also need to establish a cloud migration plan. 

Nerds Support has over 17 years of experience, working with small and medium sized businesses in IT Cloud Solutions.

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