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4 Pandemic Planning Considerations for IT

It’s difficult to predict all the areas of your business that could or will be impacted by a large-scale pandemic. Stay ahead of the curve by creating a plan for every business function in these uncertain times.

Business Continuity

Around 12% of organizations claim they are “highly prepared” for a pandemic according to a Gartner Business Continuity Survey. Implementing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) will prepare your organization from impacts of natural disasters, supply chain delays, limited access to staff and more. The goal of a clear business continuity plan is to maintain technical operations and restore your company’s ability to operate during challenging times.

Your pandemic plan should include continuity details, including staffing, technology (hardware, software, systems), power options, data backups, relocation sites along with internal and external communication plans. Take your business impact analysis a step further by defining your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO).

Recovery Time Objective is the time between an unexpected disaster and the continuation of business as usual. Recovery Point Objective addresses the organization’s maximum amount of data that can be lost before the impact on the business is unacceptable. Using this framework, you will build an effective strategy for your IT team to respond to any unwelcome disaster that may threaten your data center.

Read our Five Basics for Disaster Preparation & Business Continuity in the Data Center for more information.

Supply Chain Delays

Interruptions to supply chains can drastically delay the implementation, purchase and installation of new sever, storage, and networking systems. If you need hardware immediately, consider purchasing recertified or last generation equipment. You can avoid the long lead times that may occur with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and access a timelier solution. Find more information on the benefits of purchasing refurbished IT equipment.

Remote Workforce

AtlasVPN reports VPN usage has increased by 124% in the U.S. last two weeks. Due to the upsurge of remote workers, IT departments are busy supporting the bandwidth. To ensure employees can access critical on-prem applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), IT departments should consider these key measures during a pandemic:

  • Providing the proper equipment for employees (laptops, monitors, etc.)
  • Increased internet utilization and performance
  • Security updates and performance improvements
  • Router upgrades to support the increased speeds and users
  • Additional server capacity to support ERP system access
  • VPN setup and licensing for users

As organizations begin to shift to a remote workforce, IT departments are heavily monitoring inbound and outbound internet connections. We suggest upgrading your bandwidth once achieving 80% average utilization. Read more on keeping your workforce up and running in this recent TB&P article here.

Cybersecurity

During a national pandemic, it doesn’t take long for hackers to start developing ways to target users. The cybersecurity firm Check Point states around 3% of COVID-19-related domains are considered malicious and 5% are classified as “suspicious.”

According to Ron Culler, the Senior Director of Technology and Solutions at ADT Security, “National emergencies and/or disasters add a fear factor that acts as one more hook for hackers to get what they need. When fear is added to any targeted campaign — be it a legitimate or scam campaign — the effectiveness of that campaign is increased.”

To decrease the risk of a cyberattack, encourage employees to closely examine emails, avoid clicking attachments, refrain from entering sensitive information, and report all attempts of phishing. For tips on protecting your workforce from cyberattacks, reference this TechRadar article.

Considerations IT teams should plan for during (or before) a pandemic are:

  1. Business continuity planning – to maintain technical operations and restore th company’s ability to operate during challenging times.
  2. Supply chain delays – expect delays in equipment manufacturers. Find a solution with refurbished equipment.
  3. Remote workforce – prepare the business to work remotely on VPN setup and ensure proper security updates and server capacity.
  4. Cybersecurity – equip your employees to be cautiously aware of spiked levels in attackers and false information.

Whether your business is impacted by one or all of these situations, the key is to start planning for every area of your business using this framework. Every day delivers new challenges — which is why your pandemic plan must be strong enough to protect business continuity and include an agile mindset to address ongoing developments.

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