The UNTHINKABLE Happened… Now What???

Servers, desktop, and laptops are at the core of most businesses.  There are many things which can come between you and your files and data.  Technology failures and natural disasters such as fire, flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, and manmade disasters like terrorism can destroy in an instant the data and systems upon which your business depends.

Hard drives, the containers for all your files on a computer or server can fail.  Even the more reliable solid-state drives can fail.  If your files are not backed up somewhere, a simple hard drive failure can mean the difference between success and failure; between getting a project done on time or not at all; between being compliant with laws and regulations in your industry or facing regulatory authorities concerned with mismanaged data.

In addition to natural disasters and physical losses of computers and servers, files and data can be compromised by malicious software (“malware”) such as viruses which destroy hard drives or ransomware.  Ransomware is a form of malware which attempts to hold your computer hostage until a ransom demand is paid.

Of course, it is best if you can prevent such malware from ever getting installed on your computers but, it happens.  Many businesses and even government and hospital systems have fallen victim to ransomware attacks.

Ransomware starts by encrypting the files you care about like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, images, videos, and music.  It does not encrypt all the files on the computer because it needs the computer to function, at some minimal level, so that its ransom demands can be communicated to the user.  If all the system files were also encrypted, the computer would not start nor would it be able to make its demands known to the user.

In 2019, in addition to encrypting the files of interest to the user, the WannaCry ransomware attack disabled some functions on the infected computers so that removing the malware, connecting remotely, restoring the system to a previously known good configuration, were difficult if not impossible.

Ransomware then makes its ransom demand known to the user and gives them a short time to pay for a key which will, presumably, unlock all the files and enable the user to access their files once again.  Failure to pay promptly almost guarantees that the key will not be recovered nor will those files.

If the unthinkable happens and your office is destroyed and everything is lost or if your computer has been taken hostage and your files held for ransom, what can you do?

If your disaster recovery and business continuity plan was big on hope (as in “I hope this doesn’t happen.”) and not so big on detailed plans, you have limited options. You can look for old copies of important files or try to reconstruct the essential files from memory.  Hope is not a business plan.

The bare minimum is having good backups.  Some businesses still rely on manual backups that depend on somebody remembering to copy files to a USB drive or network folder.  Failure of this approach is almost inevitable.  There are many options for making backups.  It is best if backups run automatically and do not depend on human memory to be performed.  What is important is that you make backups regularly.  Backups should be stored away from the computer that is being backed up.  If whatever it is takes out your server, it will also take out the external USB drive sitting next to your server and then you will have… nothing.

Online backups are a good solution for many businesses.  They just “happen” like magic and no human is tasked with remembering to change the drive.  They are also automatically offsite so that is an entire office is destroyed, the data and files live on in The Cloud somewhere.

Make a plan that includes different scenarios.  For example, you could lose your server due to a malfunctioning fire sprinkler.  Can your business withstand that loss?  If you have good backups, you can survive the loss, but you might lose a few days getting everything back in order.  If your business does not use a server, you still should have a plan in place to recover at the very least, essential desktop and laptop computers.

What about losing the entire office?  If all the servers, desktops, and laptops that keep the business going are gone, can your business survive?  The difference between having a good disaster recovery/business continuity plan and not having one is that a good plan will make the loss of all the computers an inconvenience but not a business-killing event.  A good plan will kick into gear as soon as the disaster has passed.  It might be days, weeks, or even months before the business is back to normal, but it will recover.  Without a solid plan, then all you have is hope (as in “This is what I hoped would not happen.”) to recover.

If you had engaged Landau Consulting to manage your IT systems before a disaster or technology failure or cyber-attack, all you would need to do is call us and we would begin the process of restoring your technology infrastructure.  You might need new hardware.  You might need a new location.  You might need a temporary location to use until your office is rebuilt.  We can guide you through backup and protection options including local and online backups and a move to the cloud.

The time to think about disaster recovery and business continuity is BEFORE disaster strikes, not after.  Contact Landau Consulting and request a free consult to start your business on the road to preparedness.  We can’t rebuild your office building and we can’t rebuild your business.   But we can be your trusted partner and help you rebuild your network and preserve your data so that you can weather storms, disasters, and malicious software.   We can implement protective measures that give your computers a fighting chance against the bad guys. And should the unthinkable happen, we will be your partner in recovering from whatever disaster or attack your business faced.

Hope is for the future.  Careful planning is for right now.