The threat of natural disasters is a common reality of living in the United States. From wildfires in California that burned twice as much acreage as any prior year to hurricanes on the East Coast and floods in the Midwest, this year has been record setting in more ways than one. In fact, the number of natural disasters in 2020 has already tied the existing US record at sixteen, causing death and destruction and at least $1 billion in damages.
While most disaster preparedness efforts focus on strengthening physical resilience, there is another element that should be top of mind: digital resilience. The destruction caused by natural disasters is one of the main causes of infrastructure-based data loss. For small to medium sized companies, this damage can be devastating. According to Federal Emergency and Management Agency (FEMA), 40 to 60% of small businesses permanently shut down after a natural disaster, and 90% of small businesses fail if they do not reopen within five days after a natural disaster.
While the public sector – including government agencies, public healthcare and education institutions, and nonprofits – does not necessarily face the same risks as private companies when a natural disaster strikes, the impact can be just as devastating, especially with critical operations and constituent services on the line.
Take Hurricane Harvey, for example. Back in 2017 when the storm made landfall in Texas and caused more than a hundred deaths and $125 billion in damages, local hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. They lacked the essential resources to treat patients and many had to evacuate due to flooding. While relocating patients, staff had to leave records behind, with limited ways to access them from afar. The shift to different hospitals severely reduced operational capacity as doctors scrambled to piece together critical data. The efficiency and effectiveness of patient care undoubtedly took a hit as a result.
As the above example shows, the impact natural disasters can have on public sector organizations’ data security and access can be grievous, with very real consequences for the individuals such organizations serve. Luckily, there are strategies your organization or agency can implement today to strengthen digital resilience and protect against data loss and downtime.
Crafting the Right Disaster Recovery Plan
Public sector organizations are destined to face severe consequences in the aftermath of a natural disaster without a well-developed digital recovery plan, which is essential for ensuring organizational continuity. When creating a disaster recovery plan, there are several things you can do to prepare for the worst.
- First, make sure your plan includes secure, reliable backups that store your data in more than one location, including somewhere off-site like the cloud (scroll down for more on this in the next section). Regularly backing up your systems and data prevents unwanted disruptions and guarantees continued access, no matter where you might be evacuated.
- Next, establish roles for who will handle what during a theoretical disaster. People must be trained in their roles and prepared to handle their responsibilities under pressure.
- Once you have the policies and roles in place, test the plan. By practicing each step in your recovery plan, you limit the number of surprises you will encounter during the real thing.
- Lastly, stay agile. Regularly evaluate and tweak your plan to reflect changes within your organization’s computing environment and workforce. Making sure the information and processes in your plan are up-to-date helps guarantee your organization will be prepared to quickly execute it when disaster strikes.
With these steps in mind and a detailed disaster recovery plan in place, your organization can avoid devastating data loss and downtime.
Peace of Mind with Cloud Backup
Natural disasters are unavoidable and inevitable. Using a cloud-based agent to manage your backup and disaster recovery capabilities and storing those backups in a secure cloud will save countless headaches when the worst-case scenario happens.
Acronis SCS Cyber Protect, which is available both in the cloud and on-premise, gives you complete control over the cadence, location, and retention of full-disk image and file-level backups, as well as integrated endpoint security and management. Its bootable media feature enables you to restore full system backups in a pinch, even to dissimilar hardware, minimizing downtime for your organization’s most mission critical operations.
What Now? Proactively Prepare
Preparing for disasters of any kind is vital for resilience. The last thing you want to worry about when a hurricane or wildfire is heading your way is, “will my organization still have access to our data and systems tomorrow?”
Shoring up your organization’s digital resilience in advance of any natural disaster event is just as important strengthening its physical resilience. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Undergoing the essential preparations now helps ensure you keep critical operations up-and-running, maintain your reputation, and mitigate loss.