The year 2016 has been a bumpy ride. Radical changes are taking place, both on the technology front – where disruptive models like cloud computing are taking over, and on the international political stage – where dissension abounds. The business environment is not immune to most of these changes. But some of the more important shifts that C-levels need to watch out for revolve around business continuity.
A tell-tale study from Harvard Business Review shows that corporate longevity is lower now than it was 30 years ago. Companies that don’t continually innovate are dying very fast, shows the study. But fierce competition is not the only thing that threatens to kill companies. We’ve taken a look at some of the most important business continuity incidents that happened in 2016, and saw patterns emerge. Nearly 50% of small businesses had to deal at some point with ransomware, according to a report by Osterman Research. All this shows that backup and disaster recovery is, as always, an important part of business planning.
If we look back, it seems that 2016 was year of the ransomware. There have been a multitude of attacks, in various industries, ranging from government to healthcare to educational institutions. Businesses have also been heavily targeted, with employees needing careful instructions to follow ransomware prevention best practices.
Government institutions: There’s been a lot of talk about hackers attacking the U.S. government lately. But mainstream media seems to miss a part of the story. Hackers are not always politically motivated, and some of the real, proven attacks lately aimed at financial gains. Administration from at least three U.S. cities had their files encrypted by ransomware in 2016 – and a backup strategy has proven vital in each case.
Healthcare: Cybercriminals have declared war upon the healthcare environment. The number of attacks on medical institutions has risen. Cyberattackers know these organizations face heavy fines if they compromise patient’s data. In the medical field, a BDR strategy is crucial. Attacks have become such a prevalent issue, that changes have started to crop up in the healthcare compliance field. Regulators are becoming less tolerant of data breaches.
Education: Schools have not been immune to the issue. In a Sentinel One study, 63% of universities in the UK contacted admitted to being targeted by ransomware attacks. One university even added they were targeted 21 times by cybercriminals. In Canada, the University of Calgary paid $16,000 in bitcoin to get back some of its data. In the U.S., a school in South Carolina paid $10,000 in ransom after it had 80 percent of its servers encrypted.
Business: Data shows that tens of thousands of ransomware attacks happen every month. Estimates from the FBI show that victims have paid around $1 billion dollars in ransom just this year. To make sure you’re not one of the victims, you would need proper education for employees and rely on a strong system for backup and recovery.
Hurricane Matthew left widespread destruction in September, when it sweeped through five countries, leaving behind over 1,600 casualties. In light of the events, the StorageCraft backup and disaster recovery company offered free backup software to help businesses and non-profits before the storm hit. The hurricane caused damages of over $10.5 billion (USD), and was the costliest Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Sandy.
In February 2016, a winter storm caused an outbreak of tornadoes across the Gulf and Eastern Coasts of the United States. The storm caused a total of 61 tornadoes in these areas, damaging buildings and killing 7 people. The heavy winds snapped and uprooted trees, and businesses sustained damage to roofs and had their buildings damaged.
The businesses in the historic downtown area of Ellicot City in Maryland sustained heavy damage in July, after a flood affected the area. Heavy rainstorms caused 6 inches (15 cm) of rain in two hours. Two people died, and Main Street remained closed for more than two months after the incident.
In California, the DMV learned a disaster recovery lesson the hard way, after an outage shut down its operations for several days. Citizens went to Twitter to vent their frustrations, as DMV offices in many cities had closed down. Things were not any better for Delta Airlines in August, when a data center outage took all of its systems offline. The disruption caused long lines in airports, as hundreds of flights were delayed.
Fields like transportation are particularly vulnerable, as the cost can be high for even one hour of downtime. Statistics show most of the time, hardware failure and human error are the main causes for downtime.
Looking back, it seems that this year and the next, a backup strategy is key to ensuring economic activity can resume as quickly as possible, in case floods, fire or cyberattacks occur.