Looking to safeguard your IT infrastructure against hurricanes? Learn how to create an IT Hurricane Preparedness Plan that ensures business continuity and data protection.
A disaster plan is essential for businesses in the South. A hurricane preparedness plan is just as essential for digital and electronic assets. In this blog post, we answer common questions about creating a digital disaster recovery plan. These include: What does it look like? Should I have one? How often should I update it? And so on. It applies to natural disasters such as hurricanes, but it can also be applied to other types of disasters.
Importance of IT Hurricane Preparedness
Ignoring the need for an IT Hurricane Preparedness Plan is like playing Russian roulette with your business. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nearly 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. The modern business landscape relies heavily on data and technology, making IT infrastructure a critical aspect that cannot be overlooked.
1. Business Continuity Plan
In order to maintain operations in the case of a disaster, your business must have a plan. It is important to know what you have and how you need to protect it. A Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan (BCDR) allows businesses to continue operating even if they encounter a variety of issues, including natural disasters or cyber-attacks. View my link for a Simple Checklist For Creating A Business Continuity Plan
2. Conducting a Risk Assessment: Identifying Vulnerabilities
The first step in any disaster preparedness plan is to conduct a thorough risk assessment. This involves identifying the vulnerabilities in your IT systems that could be exploited during a hurricane. For instance, is your data center located in a flood-prone area? Are your servers protected against power surges?
3. Creating a Disaster Recovery Team: Responsibilities and Skillsets
A dedicated team is crucial for managing any disaster. This team should be composed of individuals with diverse skill sets, including IT expertise, crisis management, and communication skills. Their main responsibilities should include implementing the preparedness plan, monitoring weather updates, and coordinating with other departments.
4. Emergency Communication Plan: Tools and Techniques
In the heat of the moment, effective communication can make all the difference. Utilize multiple channels of communication like emails, text messages, and even social media to keep your team updated.
5. Evaluate and Inventory
Before you evaluate your hardware and software, first create an inventory of assets. Make sure to include all of your hardware and software. Include the make, model, operating systems, network devices, serial numbers, and licenses. Keep the information off-site or in the cloud so that you can access it if anything happens to your business.
6. IT Recovery Plan
Businesses should develop an IT Recovery Plan. The plan should include a strategy to ensure that all critical infrastructure can be recovered.
Identify critical software applications and data and the hardware required to run them. Using standardized hardware will help to replicate and reimage new hardware. Ensure that copies of program software are available to enable re-installation on replacement equipment. Prioritize hardware and software restoration.
Document the IT disaster recovery plan as part of the business continuity plan. Test the plan periodically to make sure that it works.
7. Back Up On-site and Off-site
Since your business is a hurricane zone, you will want to keep your data safe. Some companies store their data off-site to a secure hurricane grade building, which is a great way to safeguard it. They make sure that their data centers are not near fault lines or in hurricane zones. You can also back up your data off-site to cloud storage. This is great practice for everyone.
8. Protect Electronics
In addition to securing doors and windows, IT admins should take additional steps to protect computers from the elements.
- Move electronics to a safe room if possible (keep devices away from windows).
- Move electronics off the ground, to protect from flooding.
- Shut down computers and unplug power to machines to protect from power surges.
- Unplug Ethernet cables from computers or docking stations.
- Unplug Ethernet cables from Power Over Ethernet devices like your Voice Over IP Phone.
- Unplug power to Printers and any other electronic devices to protect from power surges.
- Use plastic bags or sheets to ensure some short-term protection.
- How often should you update your IT Hurricane Preparedness Plan?
- It’s advisable to update your plan at least annually or whenever there are significant changes to your IT infrastructure.
- Can cloud storage serve as a reliable backup during hurricanes?
- Yes, but make sure the cloud service provider has data centers located in different geographical locations.
- What are the best practices for securing physical hardware?
- Use flood barriers, secure server rooms, and invest in surveillance systems.
- How can you ensure effective communication during a disaster?
- Use multiple communication channels and keep a list of emergency contacts.
- Is insurance necessary if you have a solid preparedness plan?
- Insurance serves as a financial safety net and should be a part of any comprehensive preparedness plan.
- How can AI assist in hurricane preparedness?
- AI can provide predictive analysis, which helps in early preparation and decision-making.
Creating an IT Hurricane Preparedness Plan is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. With climate change increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes, there has never been a more crucial time to act. Your preparedness can determine whether your business weathers the storm or becomes another statistic. Take action today.