Coronavirus: Preparing to Interruption in Business

Are you prepared for an interruption of business?
News and concern about the coronavirus (Covid19), are spreading faster than the actual disease. There is always a story on the news channels, no matter what time it is. Although a lot of the news cycle is likely exaggerated, there is a real concern that needs to be addressed. As the number of Corona infections in the US increases, there will be an increase in pressure for individuals and organizations to take self-quarantine and avoid crowds and gatherings. Some of this is already happening on the West Coast, where a few tech conferences are being cancelled or pushed.

Unfortunately, perception is reality. We must prepare for this situation, regardless of how severe the Covid19 virus pandemic is and what its potential impacts might be. For situations such as a pandemic virus, there are a few things that every organization should be aware of. These preparations should have the main goal of ensuring business continuity in emergencies.

Before you can begin to build your plan to avoid interruptions, you need to get your executives onboard. Your plan’s success will depend on the communication between all departments.

Solidifying Executive Commitment to Cross-departmental Communication
Communication is crucial to the success and sustainability of any Business Continuity plans and efforts. The only way to ensure that your organization’s Business Continuity Plans (and recovery efforts) are successful is to understand the business impact.

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning for business interruption success:

Conducting a Business Impact Analysis.
Due to the rapid spread of Covid19 in recent years, if an organisation has not created and maintained a Business Impact Analysis, (BIA), then that time has expired. We recommend that businesses hold standing meetings (weekly, daily) with representatives from business stakeholders to track the impact of Covid19 on their business.

Stakeholders should identify the impact areas. These include Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), for affected applications and business process. To build a better Business Continuity Plan, all information should be documented. A solid Business Impact Analysis (BIA), is thorough and involved. Although it can seem daunting, there are resources available to help you.

Develop a Work-FromHome (WFH), Strategy
These are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to develop a work-from-home strategy that works.
How easy can your company shift to a work from home model? Is this even possible? What about remote connectivity? Can your VPN allow your organization to connect at least 2/3rds the workforce? (Potential Solution – Cisco AnyConnect) How would remote/telework affect your security? Does the network’s internal controls also work outside of the network? (Potential solutions: Cisco Umbrella and Cloud Email Security, Cisco Duo Multi-factor Authentication and Cisco ISE.) Meetings must continue! How do you facilitate remote meetings currently? Can it scale to twice or three times its size? (Potential Solution: Cisco WebEx, Cisco Unified Communications Manager). Can you still meet your compliance obligations and achieve your security goals while in a Business Continuity status?
Anticipating Supply Chain’s Effect on Business Continuity
How will an interruption in the global supply chain affect your production or current initiatives?
We are aware that almost everything coming from Asia is experiencing delays in shipping and fulfillment. We expect that this trend will continue to expand to other parts of Asia and the impact to increase. These are the questions you need to answer:

How could the Covid19 effect on the global supply chains impact your business? What can your suppliers do to ensure their business continuity and order fulfillment?
Expert IT professionals can help you build a business continuity strategy
Understanding your business’s technology and application needs is key to creating a solid strategy. A team of IT experts can help you assess your business’s ability to provide business continuity plans and create an actionable plan for avoiding business interruption. We can assist with supply chain issues by leveraging partner resources, and we can perform a business impact analysis to help you plan for large-scale business impacting events such as global pandemics.

These preparations are not necessary in light of the coronavirus crisis. Experts like IE can help you create seamless business contingency plans that will keep you ahead of any emergency.

About Jason Smith
Jason Smith is the Security Consultant at Internetwork Engineering (IE). He has over 15 years of experience in IT Security & IT Security including finance, aerospace, defense, and retail. Connect with Jason via LinkedIn.
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