Ensuring business continuity is the fouth article in the ‘Fit for the future’ series. In this article we look at how to ensure your IT and OT systems continue to function and how to prevent unplanned downtime and systems failure.
With more reliance than ever on IT and OT systems within critical manufacturing operations, the impact on the business if these systems fail can be enormous. It can result in delayed orders for customers, expiry of raw materials, scrapped product, damage to reputation and have a significant impact on production schedules long after the failure has been resolved and production is back up and running.
In lots of circumstances the root cause of the problem can be difficult to diagnose, leading to protracted downtime while the root cause of the issue is identified. And if systems are down as the result of a ransomware attack, the only obvious solution may be to pay the ransom to avoid a prolonged period of downtime while the business assesses its options.
Ransomware attacks are now extremely common and are becoming more targeted and sophisticated. It is thought that 90% of businesses may have been attacked by ransomware and malware and attacks were up 365% between 2018 and 2019. In 2018 alone, an estimated $8Bn in ransoms were paid. The very fact that businesses have paid a ransom demonstrates that they had no effective strategy in place to successfully recover from an attack.
Initially, ensuring your systems are as resilient as possible by running the latest versions of software on the latest operating system enables the systems to be routinely patched to mitigate against security vulnerabilities. Having this performed regularly as part of a service contract ensures it won’t be overlooked, and you can be sure that the patches applied will have been tested by the service partner against your specific software build and application.
Ensuring you have regular and automated backups so if the worst were to happen you can quickly restore systems to minimise downtime is paramount, but this is useless if your backups have been encrypted too. So how do you prevent your vital backups being rendered useless too? It’s generally regarded that maintaining 3 copies of your data, 2 of which are stored locally on different storage media with the third being stored offsite is enough. But for the additional protection you require, having an additional immutable copy ensures your backups will be safe from encryption and can be quickly restored when you need them.
Wrapping this up in a managed backup and disaster recovery service helps to ensure that your backups are available and protected from ransomware so if you were to suffer an attack, you can quickly restore data and systems and avoid having to pay a significant ransom to recover your data. Combined with a patching service, you will have greater protection from an attack in the first place, and you will ensure your systems are up to date and benefiting from the latest service packs and vendor-released improvements.
It’s more important than ever to be proactive in your approach to system maintenance and managed backups, disaster recovery and patching are one of the straightforward ways of ensuring you stay protected, and your systems continue to run. Ensuring business continuity is not difficult, you just need to plan for it.