Business Continuity Plans for IT, and Why Your Business Needs One

Cyber Security IT Automation IT Planning & Recovery Managed IT

Running a business means having a lot of plans – business plans, marketing plans, growth plans – but what about a business continuity plan? Your business continuity plan includes details on what you do if something goes wrong at your business. This could range from natural disasters to cyberattacks to hardware failures. You want to be prepared for anything that could go wrong, which will save you time and money in the long run.  

When it comes to your IT systems and data, having a solid business continuity plan helps you deal with issues when they arise and keeps your business on track. We know most people don’t think about their IT systems on a daily basis (except us) until it breaks down. And when that happens, what do you do?  

What Happens When IT Systems Fail?

As a business owner, do you know what steps to take if your IT systems suddenly aren’t working the way they should?  

Think about it:  

  • If your file server goes down and no one has access to company files, do you know what to do? 
  • Do you have a plan in place if one of your remote staff suddenly quits, and you need to retrieve your company equipment?  
  • How do you recover if someone on your team falls victim to a phishing scam and your company experiences a cyberattack?  

You may be thinking, there’s such a small chance of any of this happening that you’ll just deal with it if it ever happens. You can absolutely take that chance. But while you’re dealing with it when it does happen, your business will be at a standstill. You may not have access to your company data, finances, files, email, and more.  

Having a business continuity plan in place means you’ll know who to call, what to do, and how long it will take to get back up and running. You’ll know exactly what to do, and exactly what to tell your employees and your customers / clients.  

What does a business continuity plan include? 

1. Inventory of equipment and IT systems – Understanding the full scope of your IT systems is a crucial step to creating a business continuity plan. 

2. Threat analysis and risk assessment – Depending on what type of business you have, threats come from different directions. Knowing where those threats and risks may come from is necessary to create mitigation and recovery plans.  

3. Mitigation activities and strategies – There are steps your business can take to reduce risk (like providing cybersecurity training for employees), which may be required to get insurance coverage. 

4. Data backup and recovery plans – Having regular backups of your data can help get your business back up and running quickly if you lose access or data is accidentally deleted. 

5. Alternate work locations – One silver lining of COVID was the way companies adapted to a fully remote workforce. In your continuity plan, define alternative work locations for your employees to ensure your customer is taken care of. For those requiring physical plant, this may be developing key relationships within your industry to set up shop temporarily. 

6. Contact information for key personnel, suppliers, and IT teams (like us!) – Knowing who is in charge of your various IT systems and who to call will help expedite the process to get your business back on track after an issue.  

Once you create your plan, put it to the test! Once a year, spend a day scenario planning. QuickBooks has stopped working and all company financial data is missing. You realize someone or something has deleted the ‘Finance’ folder from your server. Was this an accident or is my business in the middle of a cyberattack? 

Most of the businesses we work with are not experts in IT, and that’s where we come in. We can help you create and implement a business IT continuity plan for in-house and remote teams. We can be your IT partner to ensure your systems stay up and running, and we’ll take care of your business if and when those systems go down.  

Let’s chat about your IT needs!  

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Designing a cybersecurity program is complex, and expecting everyone within your organization to follow complicated policies is bound to fail. As with most things, simpler is better. At Nessit, experience has taught us that easy-to-understand cybersecurity policies are the most effective, and as cyber threats become more sophisticated, protecting sensitive data has never been more critical. Data breaches can have devastating consequences, including lost productivity, damage to reputations, and potential lawsuits. 

The risk of neglecting cybersecurity may be compounded as new legislation is continually introduced across the country to incentivize data security. Florida’s recent Cybersecurity Incident Liability Act (HB 473) would have offered immunity to companies that suffer data breaches–but only under certain conditions. Contingent on compliance with Florida’s data breach notification law and cybersecurity measures that meet defined standards, this legislation provides companies significant legal protection. Governor DeSantis vetoed the bill in late June saying in a press release, “the bill could result in Floridians’ data being less secure as the bill provides across-the-board protections for only substantially complying with standards.” 

While this bill hasn’t passed, many states are implementing new legislation regarding consequences for businesses for not properly protecting your customer data.  

Many businesses simply don’t see the value or feel daunted by the prospect of implementing a complex cybersecurity program. That’s where a Managed IT Provider can help. At its core, cybersecurity is about designing and maintaining policies and technologies that prevent unauthorized access to valuable company data. Nessit believes that the best way to do this is to introduce straightforward policies that are directly tied to their real-life impact.  

Here are a few examples of how companies can frame cybersecurity measures to clearly explain their importance: 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

We enforce Multi-factor authentication because passwords are compromised faster than companies can keep up with. MFA adds an additional layer of security beyond just a password, making it significantly harder for attackers to gain access. 

Device Encryption

We mandate device encryption because we have seen the forgotten laptop at TSA without its owner. Encrypting all company devices ensures that even if a device is lost or stolen, the data remains secure. 

Disabling Former Employee Accounts

We ensure past employee accounts are disabled the day they leave because breakups aren’t easy and company data is invaluable. This prevents former employees from accessing sensitive information after their departure, reducing the risk of data theft or sabotage. 

While HB 473 could have provided real benefits to businesses, it can also present challenges. Companies would have to demonstrate compliance with the law’s provisions. Adherence to requirements of cybersecurity industry standards would have been carefully scrutinized. Businesses would need to be proactive in documenting their program’s compliance to mitigate potential legal risks. This requires time and expertise that many companies just don’t have, but Managed IT Providers can help navigate the challenges. 

Nessit’s comprehensive cybersecurity services include: 

  • Risk Assessment: Regularly evaluating an organization’s cybersecurity measures to identify and address vulnerabilities. 
  • Policy Development: Creating clear, understandable policies that are easy for employees to follow 
  • Training: Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices and the importance of these policies. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: 24/7 monitoring to ensure a quick response to potential threats. 
  • Compliance Assistance: Making sure cybersecurity measures meet industry standards and legal requirements. 

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be complicated for business owners. The right Managed IT Provider can simplify the process, implementing and maintaining effective policies that ensure your company’s security. Partnering with our team provides the expertise and resources to protect your data and gives you peace of mind. In our interconnected world, having robust cybersecurity is a strategic advantage that protects you from threats and positions your company for long term success. Prepare now for future legislation that could have negative impacts on your business if you’re not ready for them.  

Your business relies on digital technology, and as cyberthreats evolve and become more advanced, protecting your data with proactive, robust security measures has never been more important. A data breach can have a catastrophic effect on your company’s finances, productivity, and reputation, and may involve legal repercussions if industry regulations have been violated. Many of the threats businesses need to guard against originate in the internet realm known as the “Dark Web,” a breeding ground for criminal activity and a marketplace for stolen data. 

The “Surface Web” that we all frequent is made up of public websites with indexed information accessible by search engines. There, internet use is tracked (via cookies and other methods) to create a “digital footprint” unique to each user. This footprint contains identifying information about online behavior, including geographical location and browsing history. Most of the tracked data is legally obtained and utilized for targeted marketing purposes. Hence, your online search for a particular sneaker results in a barrage of sneaker ads that follow you across multiple platforms. 

What exactly is the Dark Web and what kind of information is available there?

The Dark Web is made up of encrypted sites that are only accessible using special software, providing a platform for anonymous–and often illegal–communication and transactions. This aptly named corner of the internet is home to scores of botnet servers responsible for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, identity theft, phishing scams, and spam emails, and serves as a repository for the illegally-obtained information. The data available for purchase on the Dark Web ranges from personally identifiable information (PII) like names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers, to financial data, like online banking passwords and stolen credit cards, to medical data that includes patient prescription history and test results, to confidential corporate data such as Intellectual Property (IP), patents, and other proprietary information. 

If your businesses login credentials are circulating on the Dark Web, you’re at risk. Login information opens the door to unauthorized access of your networks and systems, where cybercriminals may steal data for resale and infect computers with malware that can cripple operations. 

Is my business at risk?

Small-to-medium sized businesses, who may not prioritize cybersecurity–are especially vulnerable to attacks that can expose employee credentials and sensitive company data on the Dark Web. Studies show that 123456 continues to be the most commonly-used password. Other weak passwords that incorporate names, birthdates, or other personal details are easily cracked using one of the widely available password-cracking tools. No matter the size or nature of your business, if you’re online you’re at risk and should take precautions to prevent data theft. Often smaller companies lack the personnel or expertise to properly safeguard sensitive data, and this is where using a managed IT service can be invaluable to your business. 

How do I know if company information is already on the Dark Web?

Managed IT services have tools available that will conduct a scan of the Dark Web to determine if your company’s data has been compromised. If employee credentials or other sensitive information is found on the Dark Web, there’s no way to tell whether it’s already been copied or sold, so removal doesn’t remove risk. The first step to mitigate the impact of a breach is to immediately make the stolen information irrelevant. This means changing all company passwords, and implementing second factor authentication or using a secure password manager. Weak or reused passwords are the most common vulnerability that criminals exploit. Managed IT services can help your business manage damage control, implement security protocols, and safeguard against future data breaches.

What can I do to protect my business from cyberattacks?

Employee Education

The first line of defense for every business is education, and its importance cannot be overstated. Comprehensive training to make sure employees understand the tactics used in data theft–including phishing scams and social engineering–is crucial, as is emphasizing the importance of password protection. Teaching employees at every level of your organization how to recognize and avoid potential cyberattacks will go a long way toward safeguarding your data.

Secure Devices

With many employees now working remotely, individual devices also pose a security risk. Your IT service will ensure that all devices connected to your network, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and phones, are protected with endpoint security solutions like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. Employees should be educated about the use of secure wifi networks, VPNs, and encrypted communication to keep company information safe. 

Access Control and Monitoring

Another priority is the implementation of strict access control. Define which employees can access sensitive data like financial information or customer records, based on their job roles and responsibilities. Even with these controls in place, round-the-clock monitoring is essential in order to catch any suspicious activity. 

Proactive Prevention and Rapid Response

An IT management service can provide ongoing Dark Web monitoring that will routinely scan illicit platforms in search of your company data. This is a complex process that is best left to trained professionals, as accessing the Dark Web can unintentionally lead to increased security risk. Should a breach be detected, your service provider will have a rapid response plan in place to address potential problems before they can escalate into a crisis.

Don’t wait until your company’s sensitive information becomes a commodity on the Dark Web. The long term damage to your business from a data breach far outweighs the cost and effort involved to prevent one. We live in an age where robust and proactive security measures are essential in protecting your data. Partnering with a professional IT management service will provide peace of mind with the knowledge that all your bases are covered. 

Architectural firms have unique IT needs, and rely on specialized software and applications, large data storage, and seamless connectivity. Employees working in-office and remotely need to be able to access, share, and collaborate on files, blueprints, schematics, and 3D models. Managing your network infrastructure can be a time-consuming and complex task, and unforeseen IT issues can have serious consequences in terms of diminished productivity, disrupted deadlines, data loss, and compromised security.  

Managed IT services can provide myriad benefits for architectural firms.  

Customized IT Solutions 

Every architecture firm is unique and IT needs may vary. In an industry that requires highly specialized software, large file storage, and CAD support, a Managed IT services provider with experience in the field of architecture and building design is invaluable, offering custom tailored solutions to meet your firm’s specific needs.  

Streamlined Operations

The architecture industry demands precision and efficiency. By outsourcing IT management, firms can streamline operations, reduce downtime, and ensure that teams have access to the resources they need. This translates into greater efficiency and allows architects to concentrate on their core competencies without getting bogged down by IT issues. 

Enhanced Cybersecurity 

Protecting sensitive client information, intellectual property and proprietary design plans is essential to your business. Managed IT services provide robust cybersecurity measures, including firewalls, antivirus software, and threat detection monitoring, ensuring that valuable data is secure. 

Proactive Maintenance and Support 

Rather than waiting for issues to arise, a Managed IT services provider takes a proactive approach to maintenance and support. Regular system updates, software patches, and preventative measures will be implemented to address potential problems before they impact daily operations. Round-the-clock monitoring means issues are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime and providing a stable and reliable IT environment. 

Cost-Effective Solutions 

Managing an IT department in-house can be financially burdensome, particularly for smaller architecture firms. Managed IT services offer a cost-effective solution, with a predictable payment schedule, your business can budget effectively, strategically allocate resources, and avoid unexpected IT expenses.  

Improved Communication and Collaboration 

Architectural design demands effective collaboration. Managed IT services ensure that your team has access to seamless communication tools, file-sharing capabilities, and real time collaboration platforms, whether working in the same office or remotely. 

Data Backup and Recovery 

It goes without saying that data loss can have devastating consequences for architectural firms. Managed IT services include comprehensive data backup and a robust recovery strategy to protect critical files and avoid disruption to operations.  

Compliance and Regulation 

Following regulations regarding client confidentiality and data privacy is essential for architecture firms, both to meet legal obligations and maintain client trust. Managed IT service providers understand industry-specific compliance standards and will ensure that your business adheres to them. 

An efficient, secure, and accessible IT system is critical to your company’s success and effective management and monitoring is an often-complex task. Among the many IT challenges architectural firms face is integrating the latest technology into existing infrastructure, performing proactive maintenance, and ensuring security, compliance, 24/7 monitoring, and ongoing management. This is where Managed IT services can help, by providing customized, comprehensive IT solutions that allow you to focus on what you do best and position your business for success.