It’s almost impossible to believe just how many new threats to business continuity have emerged over the past several years. From a global pandemic, to supply chain disruptions, to growing cybersecurity threats, business owners are in many ways facing an unprecedented level of risk. This has forced them to reassess their plans and practices, and looking into some of the biggest business continuity trends can help you do the same.
Evaluating your business’s current continuity framework to identify areas for improvement could help save you from the devastating financial consequences of a future disaster. Fortunately, recent history can teach us a lot about where business continuity is headed. Whether you’re concerned about ransomware or the Internet of Things (IoT), technologies and the risks associated with them are constantly evolving. These are some of the key business continuity trends to watch as you equip your business to implement new strategies and guard against external and internal threats.
Ransomware has received its fair share of media coverage, to the point that business owners might begin to feel that the threat is being overdramatized. The unfortunate reality is that the talk of ransomware has not been overblown. It truly is one of the greatest threats to modern business continuity.
What makes ransomware such a prominent threat? It’s costly and damaging, and no business or organization is immune. There were 2.8 billion malware attacks worldwide in the first half of 2022, and attacks are becoming more targeted and effective. Cybercriminals are also making use of new strategies, like fileless malware, to make their efforts more difficult to detect.
Evidence shows that developing an effective system of ransomware prevention is essential for every business, and implementing effective solutions for ransomware defense and response is the only way to help protect your company from this ongoing threat.
In an attempt to overcome the increasingly sophisticated design of ransomware attacks, businesses have increased their investment in previously effective strategies and also begun to develop new ones. Over the next several years, you can expect to see these ransomware prevention tools and technologies continue to expand:
- Encrypted Traffic Analysis (ETA): Although encryption is extremely important, it can also make it difficult to detect infections in devices. ETA can identify malware communications and examine metadata patterns to analyze the intent of encrypted traffic.
- Moving Target Defense (MTD): Whereas static code and binaries are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks, dynamic code can evade exploitation attempts.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): As AI continues to develop, it will become more skilled at detecting intrusion events and analyzing them to determine how bad actors are accessing an organization’s systems.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) Solutions: It simply may not be possible to avoid every ransomware attack. With built-in ransomware detection, high-quality BCDR solutions have become central to increasing protection and shortening recovery times.
Ransomware is likely here to stay, and new strains regularly emerge. Making use of these trending defense and recovery strategies can make a significant difference in the final outcome of an attack.
Outsourcing Business Continuity Management
Every business must decide whether to handle business continuity management in-house or to outsource this responsibility to an experienced third party. While there are advantages to both, the popularity of outsourcing has grown over time. Experts project that global revenue from the disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) market will reach nearly $18 billion by 2026. This is largely due to improvements in the ability of DRaaS to maintain business continuity.
It’s no surprise that businesses are looking for outside services to manage this aspect of their operations. Particularly for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), continuity management can be prohibitively expensive, leading some companies to leave themselves open to unnecessary risk. By outsourcing business continuity management, companies can:
- Reduce the cost of maintaining continuity, while also enhancing their defenses
- Implement stronger, more dependable technologies
- Gain better insight into potential risks and weaknesses within their existing continuity planning
The lower cost and greater convenience of outsourced business continuity management are appealing to many businesses, but especially those operating on a smaller scale. They also offer a great opportunity to monitor the overall health of the business’s IT system.
The coronavirus pandemic permanently altered the modern workplace. This is especially true for employees whose work can primarily be completed offsite. According to data from the Pew Research Center, before the onset of COVID-19, approximately 23% of these individuals worked from home all or most of the time. In early 2022, that number had grown dramatically to 59%. Why does this matter for business continuity? Remote access creates an entirely different set of risks for businesses that are trying to maintain continuity.
Power and network outages pose a significant risk to businesses because they can lead to extensive downtime. Businesses often plan for this possibility as part of their business continuity management by installing backup generators. When employees are working in a central location and a storm knocks out power, there is only a brief or even momentary interruption in operations. However, when employees work off-site, there is a significant possibility that they do not have backup power sources available.
Many businesses have responded to this potential problem by stating that employees can move to a different work location (such as the business’s primary site) in the event of an outage, but this level of planning is most likely insufficient. Imagine, for instance, that a snowstorm causes several employees to lose power at home. Power is still up and running in the office, but there is no way for them to get there due to road conditions.
Circumstances like these could result in a period of downtime with no clear solution available in the moment of crisis. To avoid this scenario, it’s imperative for business owners to consider every possible factor when establishing continuity plans for remote work.
While outages are concerning, data security is likely the greatest point of worry for businesses with remote workers, and this anxiety is not misplaced. Consider these statistics from a recent study by IBM:
- The average cost of data breaches where remote work was a factor was $1.07 million higher than those that did not involve remote work.
- For businesses with between 81% and 100% of employees working remotely, the average cost of a breach was $5.54 million.
- It took organizations that had more than 50% of their workforce working remotely an additional 58 days to identify and contain breaches.
This data shouldn’t serve as a condemnation of remote work as a whole. Rather, it should indicate to businesses how important it is to appropriately manage data security for remote workers. In March 2020, a study by Mercer found that the majority of businesses had no business continuity plan in place to respond to COVID-19. This lack of preparation was a direct cause of many of the issues that businesses encountered during this period.
Although many businesses have returned to the office, hybrid and remote work continue to flourish. This is the time when businesses must develop clear policies that enhance data security for remote work. Some of the trending strategies for businesses include:
- Using new methods to improve employee awareness and training, which has been absent for some businesses and extremely ineffective for others
- Promoting and providing more effective antivirus software for employees’ personal devices
- Issuing work devices to employees with pre-installed security software
- Allowing access to sensitive applications and materials only on company-issued devices
The sudden shift in business operations caused by COVID-19 excuses, to some degree, the significant errors that occurred related to data security. However, now that the initial shock has passed, it’s vital that organizations learn from their previous mistakes and ensure business continuity in the face of future disasters.
Modernized Tools & Technologies
Although technological progress may increase the risks to business continuity, they also offer more effective solutions for businesses. Implementing more modern tools, including backup solutions, is a key strategy.
Hybrid Backup Solutions
Backup solutions are constantly evolving to offer stronger protection against data loss while also reducing costs and improving scalability. Hybrid backup has become increasingly popular because it features multiple backup locations.
Hybrid backups have many advantages, including the ability to:
- Spin up a backup in seconds and accelerate full data recovery, which saves both time and money
- Instantly virtualize applications so users can continue performing business-critical tasks during the recovery
- Access backup data and applications from anywhere
Hybrid backups also offer the benefit of redundancy. If an on-site backup is compromised, the business can use the cloud backup instead. This is essential to minimize data loss and downtime.
Businesses can optimize their data backups without over-extending their budgets by choosing the option that best suits their needs. For example, smaller businesses may want to look for solutions with lower storage capacities that are no less secure and effective than their larger counterparts.
Software as a service (SaaS) has become a normal part of business operations on a wide scale, with many organizations storing their data in the cloud rather than on-site. This offers incredible convenience, but it also removes the control of the data from the hands of the business. What happens if the data is lost or accidentally deleted by a user? Data loss of any kind can be damaging to businesses, and an increasing number of companies are using SaaS for critical applications.
Fortunately, there are backup solutions available for companies that rely on SaaS services. Considering the enormous size of the SaaS market, with a projected value of $720.44 billion by 2028, the availability of backup solutions for these services will also assuredly continue to grow over time.
Developments in Advanced Technology
Machine learning, AI, and analytics are a few of the technologies that are expected to revolutionize the world of business continuity. They allow faster diagnosis and greater prevention of potential disruptions. This, in turn, empowers businesses to make better decisions and create stronger business continuity plans.
The proliferation of devices has made the IoT an essential component not only of business but also of everyday life. Ericsson estimates that there are around 18 billion connected devices related to IoT. Digital assistants, smart locks, and security cameras are some of the millions of IoT devices that businesses around the world use every day.
In terms of business continuity, this translates to the need for a new perspective on security. When devices are unprotected, hackers can take control of them and, potentially, use them as a proxy to access the company network.
Companies are therefore looking for additional ways to enhance IoT security. Today’s trending strategies include:
- Layering security to protect physical devices that might be lost or stolen.
- Employing cybersecurity mesh to secure every device with firewalls, network protection, and other tools.
- Developing protection at the manufacturing level
The standards for IoT device protection have been influenced by the IoT Cybersecurity Act of 2020. The NIST created guidelines for government-issued devices that require high levels of protection. It would not be a shock to see, in the future, these same guidelines instituted by private businesses.
Resilience & Downtime
The idea of paying an expensive ransom or coping with the fallout of a data breach is intimidating, but downtime can be equally damaging. A 2021 study by the Uptime Institute found that more than 60% of outages result in a minimum loss of $100,000, with 15% of organizations spending more than $1 million due to downtime.
Businesses with strong continuity management are focusing on ways to prevent and shorten periods of downtime caused by natural disasters, hardware failures, and cyberattacks. Some of the current strategies are simply enhancements of earlier practices, while others are based on entirely new technology. Among these increasingly popular practices are:
- Migrating data processing and storage to the network edge
- Employing integrated solutions, like micro data centers, that configure infrastructure components for the workload, application, and environment
- Using networking solutions with internet failover in the form of backup wireless connectivity
- Upgrading networks, particularly shifting toward rapidly developing 5G capabilities
- Software-defined networking (SDN) to automatically optimize network speed and bandwidth controls with software, thus reducing bottlenecks and outages
In an era where downtime equates to significant financial losses, businesses cannot afford to ignore potential improvements to their networks, which, in turn, help ensure continuity.
While in the past they may have been seen as separate propositions, sustainability and business continuity have become much more intertwined over recent years. With increasing numbers of natural disasters putting businesses at risk, many organizations are prioritizing the need for sustainability as a means of long-term continuity planning.
In terms of establishing effective disaster preparedness, businesses should adapt their disaster plans to the heightened frequency and severity of weather-related events. However, some companies are taking it a step further by attempting to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprints and the environmental impact of their data centers. Some of the steps they have taken include:
- Using renewable energy to offset energy consumption by data centers
- Reducing dependence on the primary power grid
- Optimizing power systems with solutions like intelligent uninterruptible power supply (UPS) controls
- Minimizing water use with developing technologies including water-free direct expansion systems
The goal of these sustainability efforts is to help prevent the progression of climate change, which presents a dire threat to businesses all over the world.
Exploring & Implementing Business Continuity Trends
If examining your business continuity plans has revealed weaknesses or gaps, there has never been a more critical time to address them. Leveraging trending methods, technologies, and solutions for business continuity can help ensure the long-term success of your company.
To learn more about rising business continuity trends and how they can serve your organization, reach out to the business continuity and disaster recovery experts at Invenio IT. Whether you want more information about a particular business continuity strategy, need guidance on what would be the best approach for your company, or want a demo of today’s leading data protection solutions, the team at Invenio IT is ready to offer their insights.