For the past year and a half, much of the world has been living online. That’s where we conduct business, educate our children, and hold onto something resembling a social life. And while we are grateful for the internet and the many cloud services that made this new normal possible, this level of connectivity doesn’t come without risks.
Why We Need to Worry About Disaster Recovery
Cyberthreats and unplanned service disruptions existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic. But with so many more people relying on data-driven applications and remote access to business systems, the stakes are much higher in 2021 than ever before.
As businesses begin to find their footing again, IT teams are dealing with many of the usual suspects that threaten data and system availability, including human error, insider threats, natural disasters, and unnatural disasters such as power failures and updates gone awry.
These teams are also battling risks that became more of an issue during the pandemic, such as protecting Microsoft 365 data, securing the large number of cloud-based solutions organizations need to maintain a remote workforce, and defending against an increase in cyberattacks, particularly ransomware.
All of these threats have the potential to impact operations either by physically shutting down the company or by making systems and applications unusable via malware or encryption. But no matter what form a crisis takes, the response is (hopefully) the same: initiate your comprehensive, well-tested disaster recovery plan.
Disaster Recovery in 2021 and Beyond
Like many things, disaster recovery looks different post-2020. Our pre-pandemic strategies need to grow and evolve to address new threats and our new ways of working. Here are a few of the key areas for IT to focus on as we begin to navigate new challenges and evolving security threats.
A great place to start is by assessing and amending your backup strategies. When a disaster strikes, those backups will make an enormous difference in how fast you can get the business back up and running and how much recovery will cost.
Thanks to new ransomware strains that target backup files, the classic 3-2-1 backup rule needs a refresh in 2021. A better approach is a 3-2-1-1 plan that adds an air-gapped copy of your data far, far away and disconnected from the company network.
With so many employees now working remotely at least part-time, cloud storage and backup are a necessity to ensure data is accessible to those who need it and protected from those who don’t.
Disaster Recovery as a Service
“As a service” solutions also have an important role in current and future disaster recovery efforts. Backup as a service is a lower-cost, high-reliability option for backing up business-critical data and applications, while disaster recovery as a service provides, among other things, the peace of mind of immediate failovers for seamless redundancy.
AI and Automation
Artificial intelligence and automation make every “future of IT” list, and disaster recovery is no exception. The beauty of AI is that it can be used to prevent disasters as part of your cybersecurity technology and it can also aid in the recovery effort when a disaster occurs.
Similarly, automation can play a role in preventing issues, such as ensuring patches and updates are performed regularly, as well as launching some recovery processes as soon as they are needed.
Cybersecurity and Data Protection
Maintaining disparate cybersecurity and data protection solutions isn’t as effective at mitigating disaster as joining those two forces. In fact, the more systems and solutions you try to support, the more vulnerable your data and networks become.
Look for an integrated, unified solution such as those offered by Arcserve to optimize data protection, cybersecurity, and disaster recovery capabilities with the least amount of management needed.
What to Include in Your Post-2020 Disaster Recovery Plan
If you haven’t done so, it’s time to review, revise, and update your organization’s current business continuity and disaster recovery plans based on lessons learned in 2020. Although some parts of your plan are probably still applicable, there are a few specific areas that without a doubt will need a 2021 revamp:
Decide which policies still make sense and which need to change. For example, is the company definition of a disaster different now? If employees already work remotely, are work hours or required meetings adjusted during a crisis? Have the people responsible for the recovery process changed? Do you have a backup for each member of the crisis response team?
At the onset of the pandemic, IT teams scrambled to throw together remote work environments with varying degrees of success and effectiveness. In 2021 and beyond, IT should have remote access and SaaS solution security dialed in, and employees should be able to work efficiently from almost anywhere.
Ransomware attacks are targeting several critical infrastructure industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and education. With the likelihood of an attack rising, be sure to address how you will maintain SLAs during and after an unplanned disruption.
Health and Safety Protocols
Although many companies are choosing to continue some level of remote work, others are bringing employees back into the office. Today’s disaster recovery plans must outline in detail how illnesses are handled with regard to contact tracing, sick leave, and backup staff for critical processes.
Crisis Communication Plan
Update your crisis communication plan to cover everything from COVID-19 to a tsunami. Your organization’s reputation is at stake when a disaster hits, and how you communicate with customers, stakeholders, and employees will determine the extent of the damage and how expensive it is to fix it.
If we learned one thing from the events of 2020, it’s to expect the unexpected. One of the best ways to put that lesson to use is to ensure your organization is ready for anything. Download How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan to learn how to protect and future-proof your business-critical data and applications from damage, loss, and downtime.