Disaster can strike any business at any time. Whether it’s a flooded server room, a data breach, or any other kind of exploit, it’s crucial that businesses are prepared to continue critical operations with minimal disruption. That’s why it’s essential to have strong measures in place—including a business continuity plan (BCP)—as well as the right tools to support these measures. This guide will outline the basics, discuss why it’s important, and recommend the top five business tools on the market in 2021.
What is business continuity?
Before 2020, many IT professionals focused their business continuity efforts on IT infrastructure and data recovery. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most workforces have become increasingly remote. This has been a radical change for many businesses, forcing them to address many problems that a wider strategy would have already accounted for. This includes determining how to provide stable remote access to the workforce, facilitate teamwork and file sharing, safeguard business security, and maintain and support the on-premises infrastructure.
The aim of a business continuity strategy is to address issues of this nature in the event that a disaster or disruption occurs. It should account for every imaginable disruption. It comprises a strategy and a number of policies or plans that are designed to minimize the risk of disruptions under any unexpected circumstances. It’s an umbrella term which, in practice, involves the following activities:
● Creating a strategy. A strategy recognizes the risks posed by business downtime and involves assembling the continuity team, who are usually allocated a budget for their requirements.
● Risk evaluation. Once the team is assembled, they will begin to evaluate all the possible risks that might have an impact. This could be anything from a data breach to a global pandemic.
● Devising a plan. It’s usually a detailed and structured set of documents that outline how exactly a company’s mission-critical workloads will be recovered to a production state in the event of disruptive events occurring. Comprehensive plans will address each possible event individually, providing clear instructions for the actions that should be taken in a variety of situations.
● Plan tests and enhancements. Once the plan has been created, it should be reviewed, tested, and enhanced if it doesn’t meet your requirements.
Why is business continuity important?
It ensures the critical processes of your business can continue running effectively even during a disaster or in a time of emergency. With a continuity strategy and plan established, business leaders are able to respond rapidly in a crisis, without risking their profitability, customer trust, or brand reputation.
No matter the size of your company, an effective and comprehensive strategy can help protect you from a number of potentially disastrous consequences. This includes financial losses, loss of client trust, legal liability, and—in a worst-case scenario—going out of business entirely.
While you may think that going out of business is unlikely, MSPs (Managed Service Providers) are especially susceptible to the consequences of poor planning. This is because if an MSP fails to keep critical operations running in the event of a disaster, it can also impact your customers. In some cases, your clients’ companies may even go out of business. For example, imagine that a lack of a plan causes significant downtime which eventually results in your customer suffering a data breach. With the potentially devastating consequences of a data breach, your customer will almost certainly leave for a competitor.
On the other hand, a carefully considered and well-tested plan helps ensure that critical operations are far less likely to be interrupted. This means that your business can rapidly recover from a disaster without any significant, long-term negative impact. In fact, if a company demonstrates its ability to handle an unexpected event well, it may even have a positive impact on customer trust and their market value.
Essential business continuity components
The components listed below all contribute to the effectiveness of your strategy and plan.
1. Endpoint detection and response (EDR) and managed antivirus
EDR and managed antivirus solutions help preserve continuity by preventing disruption and helping you mitigate the impact of attacks. N-able offers two all-in-one remote monitoring and management solutions—N-able® N-central® & N-able RMM. Both these tools deliver a comprehensive range of capabilities, including remote monitoring, patch management, backup and recovery, and more. As business continuity software, RMM and N-central provide enterprise-grade security features designed to prevent and mitigate cybersecurity threats and attacks.
RMM and N-central both feature endpoint detection and response (EDR), which helps MSPs protect themselves and their customers by staying ahead of evolving threats. The primary purpose of EDR is to prevent cyberattacks. These two tools achieve this with near real-time file analysis, a signatureless approach that allows you to combat the latest threats without having to await daily definition updates, and offline protection.
Both of these all-in-one solutions also serve as managed antivirus and malware protection software. These centralized antivirus solutions help keep both known and emerging malware off workstations and servers. The antivirus feature stays up to date with the latest threats using traditional signature-based protection, as well as protecting against new, emerging viruses with sophisticated heuristic checks and behavioral scanning.
Although both of these tools provide EDR and managed antivirus, one is likely to be better for your company’s specific needs than the other. While RMM is ideal for smaller organizations that want to hit the ground running, N-central is better suited to large, multi-site enterprises that want a powerful and scalable tool. You can access a 30-day free trial of RMM here and a 30-day free trial of N-central here.
2. Password security, access, and documentation management
Password security, access, and IT documentation management are all crucial parts of any continuity strategy. The right password management tool reduces the chance of key accounts and systems being hacked. Effective IT documentation management can also help during the restoration and recovery process in the event of a disaster.
N-able Passportal™ is a cloud-based password and IT documentation management solution built specifically for MSPs. Passportal includes credential injection, reporting, auditing, password change automation, and privileged client documentation management. It also provides best practice password management with all credentials and knowledge stored in an encrypted password vault. For maximum security, the vault is protected by both role-based permissions and multifactor authentication. A demo of Passportal is available for companies interested in learning more.
3. Safeguarding data
Human error, cybercrime, and all kinds of vulnerabilities can compromise customer data—and ruin your reputation. To ensure that data is recoverable, it’s key that you use a reliable backup solution. N-able Backup allows MSPs to back up servers, workstations, documents, and even Microsoft 365. This enterprise cloud backup software delivers rapid backups and restores, with bare metal recovery and advanced recovery testing capabilities. N-able Backup also features unlimited archiving, letting you store backups long-term—and beyond variable retention periods. This is the ideal tool for ensuring that data is never lost. A 30-day free trial is available.
4. Mail protection
Email is a popular target for cybercriminals, because it’s low cost and reasonably effective. To protect your business, it’s essential that you leverage robust mail protection software. N-able Mail Assure is a cloud-based email security tool that provides secure email protection for both inbound and outbound email.
This software utilizes collective threat intelligence to power 24/7 email continuity and long-term email archiving. Mail Assure features proprietary email filtering technology, which incorporates input from processing large volumes of email data that feed into an intelligent protection and filtering engine. This helps protect your users against emerging email-borne threats with a 99.999% filtering accuracy. You can access a 30-day free trial here.
5. A ticketing system
A properly organized ticketing system capable of managing technician workload is key. A ticketing system allows for effective communication between your company and its customers, which can be crucial in the event of a disaster—but also for everyday operations. The help desk can even flag issues you are not yet aware of, helping you take the appropriate steps to prevent them from becoming a bigger problem.
N-able MSP Manager enables you to deliver prompt and proactive service, allocate resources effectively, and efficiently bill customers with defensible invoices for rapid approval. This powerful tool provides intuitive and lightweight ticketing capabilities, and can integrate seamlessly with all-in-one solution N-able RMM. A 14-day free trial is available if you’re interested in learning more.
Business continuity is an ongoing and vital consideration for all businesses, especially in today’s threat landscape. Whether you are looking to enhance your current strategy or start from scratch, the tools in this list can help you ensure your business is able to continue running smoothly no matter what the circumstances. This reliable deliverance of services will help your customers trust your company in the face of increased cyberthreats.
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