How To Protect Your IT Infrastructure in the Event of Unexpected Downtime
Today, businesses are reliant on having their IT systems up and running as close to 100% of the time as possible. For some businesses, especially online retail businesses, losing customer access to IT systems can be fatal. Ensuring that IT systems are always available, or at least, have known downtimes that can be planned for, is a no-brainer.
However, there will be times when there is an unplanned loss of service. It can be caused by the failure of a vital component in the IT infrastructure, or by external factors, such as a failure of the public electricity supply. The increasing frequency and ferocity of malware and network-based attacks can raise the likelihood of unplanned downtime from possible to probable.
Protecting your IT infrastructure in the event of unexpected downtime is crucial to ensure the continuity of your business operations. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for and mitigate the impact of unexpected downtime:
Business Continuity Planning
Business Continuity Planning (“BCP”) is, simply put, being prepared for disaster, and knowing what to do if it happens. This can include identifying critical functions and processes, identifying alternative locations for employees to work, and identifying key suppliers and vendors of backup equipment and services.
Preparation of the BCP will also identify critical measures, such as backup generators, that can be taken to mitigate the effects of unplanned downtime.
It must be recognised that the BCP is a living document and needs to be updated regularly as business processes and IT infrastructure change. Changes in staff and personnel also trigger updates and training requirements.
A Business Continuity Plan has several components.
A disaster recovery plan outlines the steps you will take to restore your IT infrastructure in the event of an unexpected outage. It should include procedures for backups, data recovery, and communication with stakeholders.
It Includes how to implement a backup and disaster recovery solution. Regularly backing up your data and having a disaster recovery solution in place is essential for protecting your IT infrastructure. This will allow you to quickly restore your systems and data in the event of an unexpected outage.
Another element is the identification and training of key personnel in the recovery procedures.
The plan may also include the administrative procedures that need to be set up, such as a Project Management Office, work teams, and any measures such as temporary offices or hiring of temporary staff.
A plan is all very well, but you need to verify it works, particularly after an upgrade to policies, procedures, or equipment and software. Having a regular schedule for testing your disaster recovery plan and backup solutions will help ensure that they are working properly and that you and our staff are prepared for implementing the recovery plan.
In the event of unexpected downtime, it’s important to have a communication plan in place to keep stakeholders informed of the situation and the steps being taken to resolve it. This includes designated team members to handle communication and a plan for how to reach stakeholders.
Other Steps than Can be Taken
Redundancy and Failover
Implementing redundancy and failover in your IT infrastructure can help minimize the impact of unexpected downtime. This includes using redundant servers, storage, and networking equipment, as well as using load balancers and other tools to automatically failover to a backup system in the event of an outage.
This obviously has a cost, which in some cases can be offset by a reduction in the premium for the insurance policy covering an outage.
Network and Data Security
Security breaches can also cause unexpected downtime. It’s important to have robust security measures in place, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption, to protect your IT infrastructure from unauthorized access.
It is also vital to keep malware detection and protection systems up to date. New attack vectors and malware appear almost every day, and they need to be stopped before they cause damage.
You should also be aware that this is a company-wide exercise. User education on induction and later regular reinforcement on how to identify malware and what to do if they suspect a malware attack is vital. They must also be actively discouraged from attaching devices such as removable storage to their desktop equipment.
Keep up to Date
Keeping your systems up-to-date with the latest security patches and software updates can help prevent vulnerabilities that can be exploited by attackers. Regularly maintaining your systems can also help prevent issues that can cause unexpected downtime.
Inspection of network components, both visually and by network monitoring software will give an indication of possible equipment failure.
Implementing these steps can help protect your IT infrastructure from unexpected downtime and minimize the impact on your business operations. It’s important to regularly review and update your disaster recovery plan and backup solutions to ensure they are effective. Additionally, regular testing and training can help ensure that your team is prepared to respond to an unexpected outage.