IT disasters are some of the most costly and damaging problems a company can face. They have the potential to cost millions of pounds and can quickly lead to widespread disruption and furious customers. Natwest found this out in 2013 when a glitch in their system blocked customers from using their chip and pin cards and prevented online banking. This cost Natwest more than just money, angry customers used Twitter to unleash a torrent of hate on the bank. Another IT failure was the Sabre booking glitch. Sabre is a booking system used by the global travel industry. A problem with its system during the school holidays caused cancellations for hundreds of thousands of travellers. What makes this example even more frightening is the fact that Sabre was down for less than three hours.
The monetary cost of these IT disasters is easy to see, but there is also a price in customer satisfaction and loyalty. If a business is seen as unreliable or incompetent, existing customers leave and potential customers may be put off. This means even a small IT disaster can have negative effects for years. This makes it incredibly important to have a plan in place in case of an IT disaster.
A business’s ability to recover usually determines how successful they are in the future. As the saying goes, “prior planning prevents poor performance.” By making an IT disaster plan, you can ensure your business survives through even the worst IT issues.
The first step in preparing for a disaster is to identify your weaknesses. These are the systems, tools or other IT infrastructure that your company needs to survive. Start by making a list of the technology your company requires. This should include anything you need to communicate with your customers, data storage and programs you need to do your work.
Once you have created your list, you need to speak to an IT specialist to help you put together a plan in case any or all of your essential technology goes down.
Any company with a website, database or other online information needs to have a security solution in place. This should include:
The firewall and antivirus software will help keep company computers free of malicious programs. An up to date CMS will help prevent hackers from exploiting weaknesses in a website and secure backups with an office security policy will help prevent the loss of sensitive information.
It is also important to have a security specialist you can call in case the worst should happen. While the above list will prevent most issues, there is always the threat that a security problem will occur, and having someone to call saves time and confusion.
If a business’s IT infrastructure goes down, it is crucial they are able to communicate with customers and other people in the business. Having multiple means of communication can mean the difference between a disaster and a setback. A good example of this is spoofing. This is a practice where a hacker uses a company’s email template to impersonate that company. The hackers (while still posing as a legitimate company) send out large numbers of emails demanding money. If this happens, a company cannot send out a warning via email because any email is suspect. Having a second way to contact customers, via the phone, social media or a website can mitigate the damage.
Every company has data of some kind and losing that data can be a crushing blow for a business. Backing up data on the cloud or an offsite server is the best way to protect it. With some sort of offsite protected backup in place, a company’s business can be hacked, flooded or burn to the ground and their data is still kept safe. Every business should be backing up their data on a regular basis to ensure they are protected from an IT disaster.
The part of an IT disaster plan most commonly missed is disaster recovery.
IT disaster plans will be different for every business but they are a necessity. If a company is caught without one, they can lose data, anger customers and experience long periods of down time. All of this costs money at a time when a company is struggling.
If you would like help creating your IT disaster plan, contact Leading Edge today.