June 1st marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season and the NOAA predicts above-average activity this year. That means between 14 and 21 storms could grow powerful enough to be named this season (3-6 storms are forecast to be Category 3 or higher). Preparing for natural disasters ahead of time is key, and while most of us in the southeast United States are familiar with the itinerary, there are specific items to consider if you’re a business owner, in IT management, or are tasked with matters of disaster recovery.
“Having a good backup solution is the biggest thing,” says NTG’s CIO, John Hafner. “Business owners and IT personnel should make sure they have a reliable, off-site backup, and they should test restoring from that backup before the storm season to ensure all their business’s information is being captured in the backup. It’s also a good idea to explore multiple backup avenues.”
Hardware and power backups are important, too. A typical lightning flash is about 300 million volts and 30,000 Amps. Most surge protectors and lightning mitigation tech won’t prevent 30,000 Amps from frying critical hardware like servers and computers. Having replacement hardware on hand is expensive, but it’s highly recommended to have a few machines disconnected from power during a storm so that business recovery efforts can begin expeditiously in the event of disaster. Power backups or auxiliary power (especially for critical hardware) will most likely come into play, even during less powerful storms. Batteries, UPSs, and generators are viable power backup options. Power outages and output can be monitored by a dedicated managed services provider, greatly aiding recovery efforts and disaster mitigation.
Network engineer, Chris Azar recommends making sure your employees can access any remote resources they need for business continuity. Using a full cloud solution like Office365 makes this process much easier. Companies should also develop customer, vendor, and employee notification policies as communication during and after a disaster must be seamless. It’s also a great time to review cybersecurity awareness training. Threat actors often target systems in affected areas and the emotional fallout of a disaster distorts judgement.
The southeast region isn’t the only part of the country prone to natural disasters, nor are hurricanes the only thing people should prepare for. Fortunately, there is usually warning ahead of time when it comes to the tropics (if we can glean some predictability from spaghetti plots). But lightning can strike anywhere at any time. Tornadoes can form from severe weather in seconds. The best time to prepare was yesterday, but the second best time is now.