Hurricane Sandy tests business continuity, disaster recovery
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which disrupted power, internet, phone and numerous other technical services for millions along the East Coast, organizations are in an ideal mode to check the efficiency or shortcomings of their “in-case-of-disaster” plans.
One factor companies should consider for their business continuity (BC) plans are additional measures to keep their web presence alive during a natural disaster.
On Monday, New York-based internet service provider Datagram lost power due to the storm, effectively knocking out several high-traffic websites hosted by its data center, including The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Gawker.
Doug Madory, a senior research engineer at Renesys, which provides resources for organizations to better manage internet-based critical processes, told SCMagazine.com that companies should always have a back-up option for their websites.
“We would advise a business to have redundancy in how they reach the internet,” Madory said. “They should have multiple physical paths to the internet, in case one internet service provider drops out.”
Organizations can also consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure their website is hosted in numerous locations.
“[CDNs] have data centers all around the world, and they make sure that if any center goes down, your users won't be affected,” Madory said.
In addition to preparing for the actual disaster, management should also train employees to fend off disruptive occurrences that could appear after the fact. Scammers looking to take advantage of crisis response efforts, for instance, are another likely threat.
The Federal Trade Commission posted a warning Wednesday about scammers, who could email individuals at work or at home to encourage them to donate to disaster relief groups.
Identity Theft 911 published a blog post Tuesday on additional scams to watch out for, including Hurricane Sandy related-photos or videos on social networking sites, which actually download malware when clicked. Users should also be wary of phishing attempts that guide victims to illegitimate sites, designed to look like charities.
“Double check the legitimacy of the site you're clicking to from your email, Facebook or elsewhere,” said the post. “When in doubt, check your local American Red Cross or the national [Federal Emergency Management Agency] FEMA site to find local help.”
Jerry Irvine, CIO of Chicago-based research and consulting firm Prescient Solutions, said in a Thursday email that, while there were some expected technical disruptions due to the storm, many state and federal-level agencies successfully implemented safeguards to maintain, or quickly restore, critical business operations.
"While there has yet to be any real statistics on the percentage of companies that have failed or will fail as a result of inadequate disaster recovery solutions, it is realistic to believe that the impact of Hurricane Sandy will cause significant disruption and financial distress to many small to mid-sized corporations, especially after having to overcome Hurricane Irene only 14 months ago," Irvine said. "That being stated, FEMA, New York state and city officials are lauding the levels of preparedness that occurred prior to Sandy's arrival. In fact, the ability of the New York Stock Exchange to open its doors and resume trading only two days after the 'storm of the century' speaks volumes to the levels of disaster recovery and business continuity planning that was performed."