Businesses have many different mission critical apps that could potentially be affected by a network outage. Losing connectivity for even a short amount of time could cause businesses to hemorrhage revenue. Let's look at how businesses are vulnerable to being offline, what causes downtime and how companies can protect themselves.
What business assets are vulnerable to downtime?
Businesses are increasingly reliant on their network for more than just the cloud-based applications that they depend upon. A typical retail business might have an array of services that could be affected by an offline network.
- Point of sale terminals in the front of the store.
- WIFI networks that a business's customers might need to access.
- The WIFI and wired network that's dedicated to your employees.
- Surveillance cameras and VoIP phones that connect to the network.
- The back office equipment room that has racks full of servers.
- Visual signage and digital kiosk space.
How downtime can affect credit card processing
Network security is critical for any businesses running credit card processing. You need to maintain your PCI compliance, which means locking down the security both locally and remotely. Companies should be monitoring all the traffic that is accessing its network. Companies might not have on-site IT to manage these various network resources. If not, you'll need a capable cloud management solution for managing, monitoring and deploying your various network devices.
But PCI compliance is the least of your worries when access to the credit card networks go down. If a business can't process transactions electronically, then they'll have to resort to storing and forwarding transactions. Credit card fees can be extremely high for store and forward transactions. Having to store and forward many small transactions can kill a business's profitability.
- If you have a network connection, the credit card fees average 2-3%.
- If the network connection goes down, the fees that a business incurs can be as high as 30% for small transactions.
Downtime caused by human error ... and squirrels
There's a high cost to your business being offline. It's estimated that nearly a trillion dollars of revenue are lost each year to network downtime. And although network administrators do their best to keep networks online, 60% of all network failures are due to human error. It could also simply be the matter of a construction crew digging up a trench in the wrong spot. Poof! There go all your DSL, cable and T1 wired connections. It turns out that squirrels account for another approximately 17% of network downtime. In 2010, Yahoo was taken down by squirrels chewing on wires in its Santa Clara, California data center.
No business is immune to these outages. It doesn't matter whether it's through natural disasters or human error, these episodes are going to happen. In the retail industry, margins are razor thin. Your downtime might have only lasted a few hours, but it can be the difference between having a positive or a negative quarter. Downtime also affects the quality of the customer experience. If the customer comes in and you aren't able to access their records, that's not an outcome you want to see repeated.
Downtime caused by natural disasters
Businesses also need to prepare themselves for natural disasters and other unforeseen network disruptions. Hurricanes and tornadoes can take out miles of infrastructure in a flash. Natural disasters will almost always take out the wired infrastructure first. During a hurricane, water gets into the wires in the ground and knocks out networks. Many businesses deploy routers in remote locations so that they can have secure backup Internet connectivity.
Preparing for Disaster in the Workplace
When you're in the workplace, one of the keys to having a successful business, is planning ahead at all times. With that said, while many companies do prepare for these unexpected events, they often don't take disasters into consideration. Planning for unexpected disasters, such as a power failure or a ransomware attack, is crucial for keeping your business safe.
So how should businesses prepare for these incidents? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
#1. Educate Your Employees
It's one thing if you're prepared for disaster, but what about your employees? It's essential to remember that teamwork plays a key role in all this. What someone else does in the workplace, could have a major impact on the entire company, for better or worse. As an example, let's say you were familiar with the dangers of ransomware, and how to avoid it. Your employees, on the other hand, weren't knowledgeable. You had better teach them the basics, or they might end up making a careless mistake. Preparing for disaster isn't just about you, everyone in the business needs to know their part as well.
#2. Plan For Each Disaster
Initially, this might seem like a lot of work, but that's not necessarily the case. You don't need to create a plan for every disaster, but you should know how to handle each incident. As I had mentioned earlier, each disaster in the workplace can't be handled in the same way. As an example, let's make a comparison between a power failure and a natural disaster. For the former, all you'd have to do is make sure your info is backed up on a regular basis, particularly via cloud computing. A method that allows you to store your information virtually, even the most severe incidents would have no impact on your data. For the latter, however, it's a different case. Considering natural disasters could have an impact on your building, you need to have a plan that goes beyond storing your data. If there's a hurricane, are you moving your equipment to higher ground? Do you have another building to transfer your data to? These are some things to keep in mind.
#3. Cloud Computing
Of all the ways to prepare for disaster, cloud computing is easily the most effective. As I had mentioned before, this method allows you to store all data virtually, and it becomes accessible on any device with Internet connection. Whether you fall victim to ransomware, or end up spilling coffee on your keyboard, these disasters will have no effect on your virtually accessed info. Even more so, use cloud computing is also an exercise in keeping your data backed up on a regular basis. Many businesses are too laid back about their files, keeping everything on their desktop, and sometimes even backing everything up at the last-minute. Cloud computing is a smart decision, because it allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, without always having to worry about worst case scenarios.
For more information about preparing for disaster in the workplace, as well as the importance of disaster recovery as a service, feel free to contact us today at Abtech Technologies. We offer a range of security products that not only protect your sensitive information, but also assess compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.