Get Your IT Hurricane Season Ready!

By admin | September 29th, 2015

We’re right in the midst of hurricane season here in New England, and while the last couple of years have been relatively quiet in this region, Hurricane Sandy hit the area on October 29, 2012 causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage in the tri-state area, and closing businesses for days in the Northeast. In light of the reminder of just how powerful a storm can be, and the fact that it’s Emergency Preparedness Month in the state of Massachusetts, now is a great time to review the steps your company should be taking to protect your employees, your data, and your infrastructure.

Luckily, hurricanes aren’t the type of storm that will pop up out of nowhere. In fact, in these days of advanced meteorological tracking, there aren’t many types of storms that take people by surprise. Unfortunately, however, weeks’ worth of warnings can’t necessarily protect a building from damage – and a business from suffering losses.

One of the ways that a company can mitigate their losses is to have a solid Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plan in place. We all hope we’ll never have to board up windows before a large storm hits, or try to recover equipment from a flooded facility, but it’s always better to be safe (and prepared) than sorry.

With that, here are some things to consider as your company evaluates your Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans during hurricane season:

Emergency Preparedness

In the event of a large storm or other natural disaster, it’s important to keep in mind basic safety measures.

– If possible you may want to ask employees to avoid coming into the office so that they don’t put themselves in danger by commuting to or from the office (even if everything seems fine at your place of business, roads could be unsafe or inaccessible along the route your employees will take)
– Keep a First Aid kit and fire extinguisher in a readily available and easily accessible location
– In the event of flooding, turn off all electricity and gas at the source, if it’s possible to do so safely
– If a storm with high winds are expected, board up the windows and door of your business
– Pull together an Emergency Kit in case your employees do accidentally end up unable to leave the office

Disaster Recovery

Read our post on The Five Critical Parts to Any Disaster Recovery Plan here.

– Ensure that your company is completing routine backups so that all data and information is up-to-date – there’s no point in being able to access data if it’s a year old!
– Speaking of backups, they should be replicated and stored off-site (this is where Cloud Computing is a huge bonus) – there’s no point in doing backups if the hardware they’re stored on gets damaged

Mitigate the potential for disaster as much as possible by:

– Ensuring that your hardware is housed in a technology-friendly environment (a cool, dry place, essentially),
– Unplugging anything that may be vulnerable to an electrical surge due to lightning strikes or damaged transformers

Business Continuity

If your employees are being asked to work remotely during a storm, or if access to the main office location is limited or unavailable in the aftermath, it’s important to have a strong Business Continuity plan in place. These plans will allow your business to continue operations remotely, without any major impacts on productivity. Check out our post on Getting Back to Work with a Business Continuity Plan here.

– If your employees will be using their personal computers to complete company work, ensure that your company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy is up to date and that all of their equipment meets the necessary security guidelines
– Utilize cloud storage solutions so that data and software can be quickly and easily accessed and used via the cloud – if your hardware in the office is inaccessible or damaged, all of your data will be as well
– You may want to consider where your employees will work should the office be temporarily or permanently shut down – look into local office sharing spaces, or long/short-term leasing facilities.

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