Are you prepared for a data disaster? With hurricane season well more than halfway over it may seem that the danger is almost passed for east coast residents, but having a contingency plan is not something that should be overlooked. In the same way that preventative maintenance on your car can protect you on the road, having proactive data protection can keep your business running smoothly even if disaster strikes.
Companies that back up their data locally or depend on paper records are at the most risk for disruption due to fire, theft, flooding, or another unexpected setback. In some cases, vital information can never be recovered resulting in loss of revenue or increased liability. Putting operations on hold to try to salvage data affects more than the business itself, both employees and customers may be negatively affected by lost wages, personal data loss, and service interruptions.
According to the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, “93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.”
There is no way to predict a disaster, but you can be ready when the unexpected happens. With a business continuity plan that includes the Cloud in place, you can get up and back to business quickly. Read on to learn about five key things to consider when creating a plan to protect your valuable business data.
If you are still relying in part (or completely) on paper records, you may want to consider document digitization. Digitizing documents allows you to create multiple instances and have your documents encrypted for an additional layer of safety. If fully eliminating paper record-keeping on the front end is not possible it may be a good idea to set a retention schedule. Determine how long you will hold onto a physical record before digitization or destruction – this will help keep storage space requirements to a minimum, make data easier to find, and lower the risk of losing key information to a fire, flood, or theft. Every document should have a clearly defined lifecycle that complies with both legal requirements for your industry and the unique needs you have for the inherent information.
Today’s connected world contains many different types of business information. Take the time to sit down and determine what types of data and documentation you collect and what the compliance or security protocols are for each. Likewise, develop standards regarding who can access this information and under what circumstances.
Protecting personally identifiable information (PII) found in employee records is vitally important and likely requires more secure protection than the catering receipt for yesterday’s meeting. Keeping track of both items is important, but access, encryption, and the retention for the two items likely differ. You will need to figure out what types of information you have, where it is located, and how it is used. If you find this overwhelming, considering hiring a vendor who specializes in data and document management. Typically a software solution or portal designed for your industry can make implementing security protections easy.
Storing your data digitally in the Cloud is an excellent solution, however, you will want to determine where the local servers are physically located. If your cloud provider stores all your data in a single matrix of servers in the same town as your business, you may not be as safe as you think. The disaster that hits you may also strike them putting your data at risk. Confirm that the Cloud environment you are using is structured in a way to protect from localized disasters and has built-in redundancy. Additionally, ensure that your data is protected with a hybrid approach that includes both physical/local and digital backups at multiple locations.
A business continuity plan is a set of procedures your organization will follow to keep business going in the event of a disaster. Data security is a big part of this, but a business continuity plan also addresses disaster protocols for other areas of business. The workflow typically includes prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. The goal is to be able to work through the disaster recovery period in order to mitigate both loss of business and potential damage to customer relationships. Having a plan can make a critical difference in the overall outcome after a service interruption.
Prevention – Minimize damage or disruption during an emergency by defining what measures can be put in place now. This may include moving critical data backups off-site, improving data encryption and security, or relocating physical documents stored on the ground floor to protect them from flooding.
Preparedness – Train critical staff to know their roles and responsibilities in case of an emergency. This also includes periodically auditing and testing your prevention, response, and recovery procedures. You may choose to establish a data recovery team that oversees the document and data protection portion of your overarching plan.
Response – When a disaster strikes, the response stage includes acting quickly to the specific disaster that has occurred. Whether it means evacuating your office due to weather or shutting down access to servers to stop a cyber-attack; this where you need to take fast action. The response portion of your plan may include specifics like scaling back operations temporarily and/or establishing open communication with customers.
Recovery – After the immediate danger has passed it’s vital to return to business as soon as possible. During the recovery phase, you must take stock of any damage and work in stages to restore critical pieces of digital/physical infrastructure to fully functional status.
Preparing for the worst is important, but there is no point in having a plan if you aren’t sure it works. Run through a variety of scenarios including an extended power outage, equipment failure, flood, fire, cyber-attack/data breach, and internal sabotage. First, take stock of where your business data is accessed and stored. Second, dig into daily operations and ask yourself difficult questions:
Running test scenarios or getting a consultation from an experienced vendor can help answer these and many more questions.
Once you know your plan has all the bases covered it’s time to get your staff on board. This requires that everyone knows their respective roles regarding data protection and is trained to follow appropriate document/data handing protocols. Thorough training and assigning clear roles ensures that day forward data is being backed up correctly and not siloed on individual computer hard drives. Having an amazing, highly-secure cloud software is worthless if no one is using it. Likewise, nothing is more effecting at preventing disasters like scams or cyber-attacks than having a vigilant, well-trained team. Ultimately, training your staff can both prevent certain data disasters and ensure better outcomes when they do happen.
Implementing an AWS Cloud solution like CloudEndure is an excellent way to start protecting your data. AWS offers many unique advantages including:
Is your organization struggling with developing an effective cloud migration plan? If so DOMA can help. Our digitization and cloud services can help your business protect its valuable data in the event of a disaster. Reach out today to receive a free Cloud Consultation or to schedule a demo of our scanning or software services. We can guide you onto the right track and help you achieve the next steps towards a secure data protection plan.
DOMA can take a look at your cloud infrastructure (or lack thereof) and make helpful suggestions for migrating your workload to the AWS cloud. No catch – it’s completely free.
DOMA Technologies (DOMA) was founded in 2000 as a Cloud based document management company. Today DOMA serves a diverse range of Federal and Commercial customers with customized business solutions. Our offerings include Digital Conversion Services, Cloud Services, and Healthcare Information Services. DOMA specializes in creating holistic workflow solutions that simplify and automate business operations such data capture, records/document retrieval, and electronic storage.
These services, along with our DOMA Experience (DX) software platform are designed to help support your organization’s Digital Transformation journey. With a considerable portfolio of government, healthcare, education, and commercial business customers DOMA has the experience and infrastructure to deploy integrated solutions that make a difference. Contact DOMA to digitize your workflow; we make complex operations simple across a wide range of industries.