Data loss incidents, when an organization suffers the loss of valuable data, can cause considerable harm to the business. The loss may be as a result of a natural disaster, fire, or theft, and the impact can be irreparable. Yet statistics show that relatively few organizations adopt robust data protection policies. This is short-sighted because sensitive and important data is held in the cloud, and its loss, even if temporary, can hurt the organization.
Risk of Data Loss
The most likely reason for the loss of data is through a natural disaster, and interestingly, significant portions of the country are at risk in one way or other. Heavy flooding, hurricanes, and earthquakes have a wide geographical spread and one incident can affect a large area, so it’s important to consider not only the business location, but also the location of data servers. In addition to natural events, data may also be lost through fire and theft.
An easy way to understand the business risk is to ask one simple question: What if we lose our data?
According to a 2014 Global IT Study that surveyed 3,300 respondents, 64 percent of organizations experienced data loss in the last 12 months. The research highlighted that the cost to enterprises of lost data and downtime was $1.7 trillion.
Researchers found that although a high percentage of organizations had disaster recovery plans in place, relatively few had implemented effective data protection practices and less than half employed remote, cloud-based data protection.
Impact of Lost Data
There are two aspects of data loss that affect organizations. Firstly, there’s the loss of the data itself that may include essential operational information, critical customer data, and proprietary information, all of which affects the company’s ability to function. Secondly, there is downtime that inevitably arises from the incident as the organization works to recreate or recover the data. In the worst-case scenario, an organization might have to suspend operations for a period of time, resulting in lost revenue.
Apart from the short-term losses, businesses may incur ongoing difficulties that lead to the loss of customers, lower sales, and long-term reduction in revenue. In many instances this can mean closure or bankruptcy.
Based on the Global IT research, companies need to take the risk of data loss seriously and implement a workable disaster recovery (DR) plan.
Disaster Recovery Plan
Although a comprehensive DR plan needs to consider all aspects of disaster recovery, there can be no recovery if the data is not available. Consequently, at the core of the DR plan must be a process for ongoing data backup and remote storage. Should data be lost, this would mean that it can be recovered, operating systems restored, and business resumed with little delay.
Contingency planning must allow for the possibility of partial or complete loss of data. Additionally, apart from allowing for natural calamities, plans should factor in the risk of man-made catastrophes, such as fire, explosion, equipment failure, and data theft.
Every business faces the possibility of losing data in one way or another. It’s imperative to be ready for a disaster to strike, so that when it does, businesses are able to respond promptly and effectively to restore data and get back online.
The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system , also known as Commercial Mobile Alerts, allows federal agencies to aggregate alert messages from the President, the National Weather Service (NWS) and emergency operations centers . Alerts are then transmitted to wireless providers, who distribute them to their customers’ cell phones via Cell Broadcast, a technology similar to SMS text messaging.
The three types of alerts delivered using this system are:
- Alerts issued by the President
- Alerts of imminent threats to life and safety
- AMBER Alerts
FEMA joined the FCC and the cellular industry on the Personal Localized Alert Network (PLAN) formulating the technology that actually transmits alerts to cell phones.
As part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), aggregators convert original messages to mobile phone format for distribution over networks to customers.
FEMA Wireless Emergency Alerts notify citizens about imminent threats via their mobile devices. Under normal conditions, text and phone messages from cell phones are impacted when there is congestion. That is why special technology is required for critical and lifesaving alerts to get through. Location-based messages are sent with information relevant to a cell phone subscriber’s locale, a service that’s free for emergency managers.
TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. provides secure and reliable mobile communications technology. Fielding solutions in E9-1-1, text messaging, commercial location and deployable wireless communications, Telecommunication Systems, Inc. is a leading mobile cloud services provider. It supports applications spanning the gamut from navigation and asset tracking through telematics. Government agencies incorporate the company’s state-of-the-art cyber security and deployable satellite solutions within the core of their critical mobile communications systems.
To date Wireless Emergency Alerts have helped Colorado residents receive alerts about local flooding and hazardous road conditions. Minneapolis, MN residents helped facilitate a safe and speed recovery of an abducted child with these emergency mobile alerts. In East Windsor, CT, a WEA alert contributed to saving the lives of a camp counselor and her students . In Elmira, NY, an impending tornado threatened municipal residents, but a WEA alert helped them reach safety.
The usual even-flow of office dynamics at Integrated Communications was no different yesterday, September 4th, than every other day at the small business in Golden Valley, MN. Kip and Thalina headed-out around 9:30 am to meet a client, Sandy shuffled through the morning mail, Mary was hard at work in the front of the office, and Nate, Nick, and Setara were wrapped-up in some calls in the three back offices within close proximity to our D-Mark. All was silent, all was still for a brief moment in telecom history, when a POP emanated from our electrical room, followed by heavy drilling noises. “What was that”, Nick yelled. “I’m not sure; is someone drilling”, Setara questioned. Thankfully Sandy made her way to the back of the office building to give Nick some mail, and that’s when she noticed the fire.
Our morning was filled with chaos, fire-fighters, a local news crew and a disaster recovery plan as our office encountered a small disaster; an electrical fire broke-out in our back electrical room.
How did we handle the disaster at our office?
Besides a crazed pregnant lady running panicked out of the building, the employees at Integrated were ready to contain the disaster, and start implementing a solution.
- Get everyone out of the building and to safety – We evacuated the building and stood a good distance away from the perimeter of our office
- Call 9-11 – The police were informed of the fire and the location of our building ASAP (further on this topic will be discussed)
- Extinguish Fire? – It was possible for our two shining heroes at Integrated (Nick and Nate) to locate a fire extinguisher and put the fire out, and then exit the building to get to safety while public safety officials arrived
- Notify Boss – Although Kip was on his way to meet with a client, we called him immediately to inform him of the situation ensuing at Integrated
- Speak with Public Safety Officials – After a few fire trucks arrived and the men and women of the Golden Valley Fire Department did their diligence in assessing the disaster, we spoke with the fire-Chief and received information on what may have occurred, and the proper steps to take now that the fire has been terminated.
- Contact proper channels – Insurance, Electrician, Clean-up Crew, and our folk at A Couple of Gurus (IT Company in MN) were called within minutes of the incident to be informed and to gear-up in an effort to help us solve any problems that may have occurred. (Thankfully, A Couple of Gurus accommodated our server worries and backed-up our entire system within a few hours of the fire).
- Go to lunch to debrief and come-up with a company game plan – After the event took place, and the proper people were notified, we ventured out to Doolittle’s for a quick lunch and company chat about what our next steps will be. While the office was to be cleaned and fumigated that night and the following day, we decided it was safer for the employees’ health to work from home until Friday (or further notice of safety has been recommended).
A HUGE piece of our disaster recovery plan was knowing who to call in case of an emergency. All of our bases were covered, and the proper people were informed of our situation within a moment’s notice. Great partnerships and equipment also hold value at a time when disaster strikes: Dave Johnson with Velocity Telephone graciously offered office space if necessary until our office and system were cleared for work…
And, on that note, the use of our VOIP phone system through Velocity Telephone came in handy in several ways on the day we needed it most. When the fire started, our phone lines were in flames as well – fortunately, with our VOIP phone system we were able to dial out to 9-11 without operating phone lines. Furthermore, our plug-and-play VOIP phone system made the capability of our employees working from home extremely feasible! Anywhere there is Internet, we are able to plug in our office phones and work – what a great feeling.
**Make sure your company is prepared for a disaster, no matter how big or small the event may be
And now for some pictures…
Fires, floods, tornadoes, oh my! Let’s face it, as business owners and representatives there are many outside factors in which we have little-to-no control over that can create a dip in profit for a few days, or eradicate an entire business structure in a matter of minutes. It’s important to prepare for disasters and protect the assets of your company and your customers. Equipping your company with a pragmatic recovery plan requires knowledge of probable complications that can occur, as well as the necessary steps to implement and test before a disaster strikes. Here are a few questions and points to mull over while preparing your company for disaster:
How much money are you willing to spend to protect your business?
Although no specific number can ever represent the dream of your business, the people, or the work put in, it’s time to get realistic and determine how much of a budget you can carve out to plan and implement a concrete disaster recovery plan.
How much money will your company lose on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis if and when a disaster occurs?
Be sure to weigh the difference of your companies’ profit with how much money to put into a recovery plan. A small business who can survive a while on their existing customer base may only need to endure a small cost for a few recovery operations; however, a larger corporation, hospital, bank, and so on, will need a more complex blueprint, therefore, requiring more of a disaster recovery budget.
Total Recovery Considerations
What are the most important business assets that need to be accounted for and replaced in order to restore your business and maintain the least possible downtime?
Think about your daily operations and what is utilized in order to minimally and maximally function.
– Office Space: If you already have or will need back-up files hosted in the cloud for all of your business data, how will you access that data? How will your employees?
Consider a budget for a small office space in the case of an emergency that your key employees can work from if need be.
– Equipment: What if all of your phones and computers are damaged? Do you have recovery for your equipment ready in the event no repairs can be made or all equipment is lost?
Perhaps educating yourself on VoIP phone systems will allow you easy and quick access to a phone system for as many employees as necessary. A product such as Velocity Telephone’s Virtual Office can be effortlessly procured in the case of an emergency and will allow for quick voice uptime with an easy plug-and-play functionality. Check out a review on the Velocity Telephone Product: http://www.integratedcom.net/virtual-office-voip-review/
So you have a disaster recovery plan in place. Your employees have all been notified where to go in the event of an emergency, your carrier has provided you with redundancy in case the power shuts-down, and you’ve got Dave Johnson on standby incase mother nature strikes and you need new phones a.s.a.p. Now what?
Quite simply, test. Practice really does make perfect. Be sure to keep your employees safe first and foremost by providing drills for different disasters. Next, make sure to coordinate with your telecom agent and test your voice and data redundancy. Lastly, touch-base with all of your equipment vendors, customers, etc… to provide them with who to contact in case of an emergency, and how you will contact, inform, and connect with them when a disaster occurs.
Contact us for more information on the types of voice and data back-ups we can offer your company to help you protect your best assets in the face of disaster.