Three Things Your Business Continuity Plan Needs

Very few business owners would dispute the wisdom behind having a business continuity plan This doesn’t stop many (if not most) businesses from having an outdated, ineffective, incomplete or untested plan.

Similar to insurance, this provides the “peace of mind” in knowing you have a disaster recovery and/or business continuity plan, but may never use it. As a result these plans are frequently incomplete in design, and execution.

“Every business continuity plan should have these elements, at a minimum!

Data and Image Backup

Business level Applications – Without Image and data backups, you won’t get your business back online and running after a disaster.

– Store backups on and off site – local backups are great for a quick recovery solution from minor issues. While off site storage (automated) can only greater ensure the disaster that affected your office, can’t affect your backup.

– Perform frequent and regular test restores of backed up data. If you think a disaster hurts – discovering that your backed up data is corrupt will only adds insult to injury.

 

Communication Considerations

– Have a plan to notify employees how, when, and where they can work if something happens to your facility.

 -Have a plan to notify partners and suppliers if a disaster affects your place of business. Alternate contact info, and expected duration of downtime. This will help your supply chains adapt to your circumstances after a disaster

– Have a plan to notify clients if a disaster affects your business. They will need to know how fast you will be able to resume operations. Lack of communication along these lines will cause them to assume your business is in dire straits and take their business elsewhere

 

Drilling and Testing

– Test backups and conduct drills often, ensuring you can restore a down server from your backed up data.

– Document procedures for conducting all the phases of your Disaster Recovery plan. Having this documentation in the hands of trusted personnel within your organization.

– Don’t assume your IT person will be available after a disaster – make sure more than one person knows how to restore your systems.

– Store important information offsite – a list of phone numbers to call after a fire won’t do any good if it burns up in the fire.

– Update your plan yearly. Personnel change, phone numbers change, suppliers change and technology changes.  A business continuity plan that hasn’t changed in 2 years may be useless when a disaster strikes.

You’ll still hope to never use your business continuity plan. Of course, if you were to need it, your business will be on the fast track to to resume operations as soon as possible. It will give your business a leg up on your competition.

Clare Computer Solutions has helped many companies design and put in place a business continuity plan – we’d be glad to help your company, too. Contact us today to get started.

Tax Season Means Big-Game Phishing for Cybercriminals

With tax season upon us, cyber-criminals have begun focusing new tax-related scams towards employers and employees using social engineering techniques. Social engineering is at the heart of the two most common cyber-scams plaguing business and individuals today: Ransomware and phishing scams.

 For more information on Ransomware or phishing scams, you can see this blog article here

The IRS is warning the public of this latest phishing scam – a variation on a technique known as “spearphishing.” Most phishing attempts appear as though they’re being sent from a trusted source or company, in an effort to get the recipient to let down their guard. Spearphishing is a little more sophisticated – sending emails that appear to be from within your own company from people you already trust, in management positions or from human resources.

“The IRS saw a big spike in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. New and evolving phishing schemes have already been seen this month as scam artists work to confuse taxpayers during filing season. The IRS has already seen email schemes in recent weeks targeting tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools as well as average taxpayers.”

-Internal Revenue Service, IRS.gov

How the Phishing Scam Works:

Cyber-criminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it was from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their W-2 Forms.

In some cases, the cyber-criminal follows up with an “executive” email to the payroll or comptroller and asks that a wire transfer also be made to a certain account. Although not tax related, the wire transfer scam is being coupled with the W-2 scam email, and some companies have lost both employees’ W-2s and thousands of dollars due to wire transfers.

“This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme.”

-John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner

How to Avoid Theft:

The IRS suggests users should remain vigilant and use caution when searching for tax help online. For more information about the scam and how you can protect yourself, check with IRS.gov. To better protect yourself, it may be a good idea to learn more about how to spot a phishing email.

Clare Computer Solutions provides onsite training to businesses to educate network users on how to avoid being victimized by ransomware or phishing.

By utilizing education and safeguard systems,  you can protect your staff and management team from making such a costly mistake. Using advanced techniques in email filtering, group policies, employee education and endpoint protection your company data will be safer. To find out exactly how we can protect your business,  and what you can do to prevent your personal data from being stolen, contact us today.

See http://www.clarecomputer.com/resources/events/ransomware-survival-guide/ and let us know if your business would like to offer this training to your employees.

clare computer Bay area leader in IT

How Managed Cloud Technology Adds Agility to Your Business

One of the more interesting promises of cloud technology is the agility added to business operations. In today’s fast-paced world, a company that can make changes quickly, as needed, carries a competitive advantage. How does managed cloud technology enable that?

Right-Size Your IT Environment

In a virtual (cloud) environment, computing resources can be purchased to precisely match a company’s need. Since a business’s need for IT resources can change for a variety of reasons (seasonal business cycles, or company growth, for example), the old paradigm would have been to purchase on-premises IT to match the anticipated maximum need. With cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), a company can add or subtract things as needed to match the circumstances – CPU, RAM, disk space – all of these can be easily adjusted for need.

Agile Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

Not only can existing cloud infrastructure be adjusted quickly; whole new assets can also be deployed, and this can be instrumental in a quick recovery from a crashed server, assuming the IT infrastructure has image backups. In this scenario, a new virtual server can be created from backed up images and shorten the time to recovery. This would work in many virtual environments (it doesn’t have to be in the cloud), but cloud-based solutions also offer rapid recovery when a company’s on-premise environment is affected by the disaster. Moreover, it’s possible to create a cloud-based version of the entire IT infrastructure and enable a business to resume operations quickly, even when their brick-and-mortar location is unavailable.

Access from Anywhere

More and more, workers are expecting to be able to do their jobs from a variety of locations – not just from the company’s office. Having even some of a company’s IT infrastructure in a managed cloud can make a mobile workforce more productive, more collaborative and more connected.

These are general benefits we’ve outlined – every business and every environment is different. Careful planning is required to reap these benefits while preserving productivity and network security. But competitive edge is very important, so managed cloud computing is a solution worth investigating.

Clare Computer Solutions has helped companies get into cloud computing – and sometimes out of cloud computing, depending on the needs and circumstances of the client. We can help you determine which part of your company’s IT infrastructure would benefit from cloud technology. It all starts with a conversation – contact us today to get started!

clare computer Bay area leader in IT