Small business owners and managers have a lot of competing demands and priorities. In the daily competition between urgent and important tasks, it’s understandable that the less urgent jobs are left for another day. Ensuring your business systems have adequate backup and disaster recovery programs in place is one task that is often neglected. That’s not a problem, of course, until you lose your accounting records, digital inventory and intellectual property documents in a freak power surge and can’t get them back.
If you want to avoid losing your data (which can happen easily through accidental or malicious causes), it’s imperative that you protect it with backup and disaster recovery processes. The lack of access to your data can cause significant downtime, which may limit your ability to trade altogether. Robust plans can help minimise this, too.
What is backup and disaster recovery?
Backup and disaster recovery is a process businesses can use to prepare for situations where access to critical data is lost. Generally speaking, there are three phases:
- Create a plan with built-in redundancies. Delegate disaster management plans to a reliable staff member so a manager can double check them. Action plans for various disaster causes are vital, along with critical contact details stored in hard copy. Make staff aware of what to do in case of a natural disaster or other threat.
- Find a suitable storage solution. Ensure enough copies of data are made, and stored in separate locations if possible. Consult with storage providers about security and encryption options. Automate backup systems if possible to reduce human error.
- Have a clear recovery plan. Establish clear action steps in the event a threat or intrusion is detected. Have appropriate shut-down or other protective measures in place. Ensure you know where your data is stored and how to access it when the situation is deemed safe. Prioritise critical operational and confidential information.
Why is backup and disaster recovery vital?
This is something that must be planned in advance. It’s critical. As most businesses run with some kind of digital footprint, it’s important to protect against losses. Threats usually aren’t predictable, so it makes sense to create a plan and keep it up to date as a matter of due diligence.
Business owners and managers can fall into a couple of thought traps. The first is the very common idea that ‘it won’t happen to me’. Unfortunately, it can and it might. Natural disasters and system failures aside, small businesses can be very vulnerable to data breaches and other attacks because they often have weaker protections in place than larger companies.
The second trap is assuming that taking care of cyber-security is enough, and that having policies in place will protect against digital losses. That’s also untrue. Providing a secure data environment is harder than it appears and is a constantly moving target. If you have time to manage this yourself, or even if you have tech support providing you with excellent services, it still won’t cover times of equipment failure or power surge for example.
Let’s take a more detailed look at why backing up your data is important.
Protection of client data and cyber security
In a time where ransomware and encryption attacks are real (such as the global Wannacry infection in 2017), keeping sensitive data secure is vital for consumer and client confidence. If you are locked out of your systems, having a competent backup system in place will help minimise disruption and confirm which data may have been compromised. As mentioned, small businesses can be vulnerable to attack as they perceive themselves as being of low value to hackers – but they are in fact high value because of the weakness in security protocols.
Protection against natural disasters and accidents
Natural disasters can occur quickly and without warning. Floods, wildfires, hurricanes and blizzards are examples of ways you could lose your electronic data. You could also be hit with similar damage from a burst water main or building fire. Depending on the scale of the damage, you could be without access to your servers for a week, or more. If you can’t access your data or process online sales for a significant period, you run a very real risk of going out of business. Having a backup plan can lessen the impact of digital losses through natural disaster or damage, and have your systems up and running sooner.
Protection against system failure
All systems have the capacity to fail at some point. If you manage your own networks and servers, the hardware may fail if it’s not maintained or lower cost equipment was purchased. Diagnosing the issues and resolving them takes time as well. Having IT support or remote servers can help speed up both emergency and maintenance downtime. Either way, if your systems go down unexpectedly, you will need to have a way of getting back online as soon as possible. Having your data backed up securely means you can.
Protection against user error
As businesses become more aware of the importance of cyber-security, it’s becoming harder for hackers to access data through traditional methods. They are increasingly turning to social engineering as a method of gaining access. That is, they attempt to trick employees into revealing passwords or sensitive information. Hackers can search out employee’s personal information online and use it to imitate colleagues and create fraudulent emails. This deception can lead to enough information being shared to cause havoc. Having adequate backup systems in place can help reduce losses if networks need to be shut down quickly due to breaches.
About EC-MSP, your backup and disaster recovery partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support establishing your business data protection and recovery needs, contact us today to see how we can help.