In South Florida, hurricane readiness is part of business as usual. We need to take precautions to ensure that our organizations continue to operate normally - or as close to as possible - so we can serve our customers and communities optimally. An IT hurricane preparedness plan is critical.
How to Prepare for a HurricaneThe key for how to prepare for a hurricane is early and effective planning. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. With more, and stronger, storms on the horizon, an IT hurricane preparedness plan begins with sunny skies:
- Hold a strategy meeting. Mid-winter is a good time to get rolling on this. Include your IT team, C-suite and/or owners/upper management, and your managed service provider, if applicable.
Identify the functions that are mission-critical and assign responsibility to each. This person will be the coordinator and communicate directly with their teams and/or relevant third-parties (e.g., physical plant, insurance, emergency responders. etc.).
Manage risk by asking: What if the power goes out? What systems/processes need to be restored first? How many people do we need during a disaster outage? Where is our data, and how will we access it? How do we protect our IT assets? If we had to shut down, how would we remain in compliance with applicable regulations (e.g., HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.)?
- Develop a business continuity plan. The step above will guide this plan. Make sure it is clear when the plan will be activated, how communications and chains of command will work, where and how people will access equipment, etc.
- Backup the backups. Backup your data. If you have an onsite data center, consider cloud solutions so your business-critical information is safe even if your property is damaged/destroyed. In any event, offsite hosting adds another layer of security and continuity.
- Go old school. Protect your digital assets by protecting your physical property. Secure windows with plywood; before a weather event, disable your devices’ auto restart feature (however, if there’s flooding, this can cause a fire); anchor rack-mounted hardware, and secure personal devices above flood height.
- After a hurricane, take photos of the damage, noting specifically your IT components. (Oh, and make sure your insurance policies are robust and up to date!)
- Practice makes permanent. It’s not enough to tell your team about the plan. Practice it so they understand their roles and responsibilities. Do a mock disaster drill and test your plan. Are there any gaps you need to close? What do you need to refine? Another benefit of practicing: when a real hurricane hits, muscle memory will take over, replacing panic.
An IT hurricane preparedness plan is a must for our region’s organizations. If you need assistance securing your assets/data, contact R2 Unified Technologies. We are ready to help you weather the storm.