4 IT disaster recovery strategies for small government agencies

October 10, 20194 minute read

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You’ve probably long dreaded the day you would have to put your IT disaster recovery plan into action. As an IT leader at a small government office, getting hacked or experiencing a business continuity disaster that pulls your agency offline is likely among your biggest fears. If worst-case scenarios happen, will you be prepared? Or will you face days of downtime?

60 percent of government agencies have experienced a data breach, according to the 2019 Thales Report: Federal Government Edition, and 35 percent have been breached in the past year. At the same time, virtually all agencies (98 percent) are using sensitive data for digital transformation.

As a small government agency, you face some unique challenges and requirements when it comes to IT resilience. You likely don’t have the same depth of resources as your larger counterparts, but you are subject to the same regulations and the same obligation to spring into action. However, if a hurricane hits your entire region or you get hacked, will you be able to provide critical services with minimal disruption?

If you can’t confidently answer with a “yes,” here are some tips to get to a point of stronger disaster readiness.

1. Create a cross-functional team

Before your systems crash, you’ll want to appoint and train a cross-functional team for IT disaster recovery and continuity response. This team should work to align your roles on a cohesive continuity plan. This will require the creation of a risk matrix or prioritization of systems and data for a potential recovery scenario. Lay out the probable impact of failure for each moving part and determine what systems should be addressed first.

IT disaster recovery can’t exist in an IT bubble. The cross-functional team should involve leadership representing multiple business functions, IT, and vendors who work closely with your organization to create a plan and test disaster readiness on a regular basis.

2. Fast-track backup and recovery

If your processes and systems come to a halt, the most important thing to do is recover your data. The more critical the data, the more often it should be backed up. When the worst hits, the first priority will be recovering access to your remote, off-site cloud data backups and your devices.

If your office is closed due to a natural disaster or an incident that compromises site security, your employees will need the ability to perform work off-site. Bringing portable devices securely back online can allow your employees to continue working with data from a remote server.

3. Turn to your vendors

It’s important to have a disaster recovery conversation with your vendors before the worst-case scenario comes to pass. Build business continuity into your RFP process to understand how effectively your devices would recover from a cybersecurity attack or other incident. For example, can your multi-function printers (MFPs) self-heal after a cybersecurity attack?

In addition, consider your vendor’s ability to bring you back online if you’re hit with a natural disaster that causes physical damage to your systems. Entering a device-as-a-service (DaaS) agreement with vendors can allow for quick device replacement as well. A DaaS plan that enables centralized management can also enable you to manage a multi-OS network of devices using centralized tools if your employees have to work remotely for a period of time.

4. Outsource disaster recovery

There’s also the option to outsource your disaster recovery entirely with disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS). Depending on the depth of your internal resources and how critical it is that you come back online quickly, it may make the most sense to outsource your IT disaster recovery plan partially or fully.

Partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) can provide your small government agency with complete access to facilities, infrastructure, and operations in the event of a disaster. This should include recovery and automated failover for all your environments, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud. Outsourcing DRaaS can also provide access to business continuity experts to help you create a bulletproof IT resilience plan for a cybersecurity incident or natural disaster.

IT resilience for small agencies

As a small government agency, you’re required to maintain a strong business continuity plan that you can put to work. IT disaster recovery requires cross-functional collaboration to create a risk matrix and test your continuity plan before a disaster takes place.

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