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Coronavirus: Tips For Your Business Continuity Plan While Employees Work Remote

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is changing the way businesses operate. As the virus spreads and public safety concerns grow, many organizations have mandated that employees work from home in an effort to limit exposure. As a result, entire workforces are moving out of secure office environments and into remote locations.

This presents a unique challenge for businesses across the globe as their contingency plans are being put to the test. Core processes, communication plans, and security mitigation efforts are essential components of an effective business continuity plan. Your organization will have to assess and implement these critical systems to ensure your business operates efficiently.

  1. Take Additional Security Measures

The Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber 

agency, released an alert on Friday, March 13 in wake of the Coronavirus outbreak that recommends organizations “adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity.”

This outbreak has affected nearly all business in at least some capacity and vicious cybercriminals are exploiting the situation with an increase in cyber attacks. To ensure your systems aren’t compromised, we encourage all remote employees to implement the following cybersecurity best practices:

  • Use secure WiFi networks that utilize strong passwords with at least 16 characters. A personal hotspot is another effective option that will help ramp up WiFi security. 
  • Make sure you have an updated antivirus software to act as a last line of defense to detect and block malware. 
  • Stay alert and take extra caution while reviewing emails. Vicious cybercriminals are using the Coronavirus as a hook to steal sensitive information in advanced email phishing scams.
  1. Develop A Communication Plan With Clear Responsibilities

Communication between management, departments, and all employees is going to be key during this time of uncertainty. Identify all necessary business functions and establish a core team with at least one representative from each organizational department. Be sure to clearly identify each member’s role during this pandemic and how communication will be handled while employees are remote.

You may also want to elect a crisis spokesperson that will be responsible for a communication plan. This plan will include pre-approved messages that detail important information regarding the state of the business, as well as current health and safety information for all employees and business partners. Be sure that everybody is aligned on next steps and immediate action items. Nobody should be left in the dark.

  1. Take Inventory Of All Hardware And Software

Identify essential tools for managing business continuity, and ensure employees working remotely can access them. If appropriate, make sure these tools are accessible by clients or relevant third parties. Depending on your industry, this could include internal/external messaging systems, CRMs, and more. While taking inventory, be sure to include the vendor’s contact information in the case that a system fails and support is needed to get it back up and operational.

  1. Identify Outage Impacts And Define Downtime Tolerance

Note the areas vulnerable to an outage, and clearly define how those areas would be affected. You should likewise determine the Maximum Tolerable Downtime (MTD). The MTD represents the total amount of time leadership is willing to accept for an outage or disruption, and includes all impact considerations. This will allow you to form contingency plans considering the appropriate recovery method and the depth of detail required to develop a recovery procedure. 

  1. Review Critical Systems And Backup Plans

Assess mission critical systems and establish that they can adequately function while employees are working remote. Core systems may include a data network, a CRM, or anything that will have severe impacts on revenue or general business operations. Always maintain backups to ensure you don’t lose crucial information in the case of emergency.

A plan also should be in place to monitor your infrastructure if a critical system were to fail or require shut down. It’s recommended to create an organizational chart that identifies all core systems and prioritizes the impact each will have if they stop operating. Define who will be responsible for each system so all relevant parties can collaborate during recovery.

Final Thoughts

It’s never too late to prepare a disaster recovery plan, even in the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic. Protecting business continuity requires precise planning around all facets of asset protection and cybersecurity. Whether you already have a disaster recovery plan, are bolstering yours in response to COVID-19, or need help getting started, these tips will help organizations create a highly efficient and secure system for remote workers.