Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Kind of Disasters Can Put Your Business Out of Business

When a disaster occurs you will want be ready to recover and get your business up and running ASAP, otherwise your business might be a statistic. Considering that 93% of companies that lost access to their data for 10 days or more filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster, and 50% file for bankruptcy immediately, you can't afford not to be prepared...unless you are prepared to completely lose your business!

In order to prepare you need to know what to prepare for...

What kind of disasters caused the above mentioned businesses to file for bankruptcy?

  1. Fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster that caused major damage to the computer systems or completely destroyed the building where the business was located
  2. Theft of the major or all computer systems and/or data
  3. Electrical surges, brown outs, or power outages that caused electrical damage to the computer systems
  4. Act of sabotage which in most cases were directed at the most important data or database by a disgruntled employee or contractor
  5. A lawsuit brought against the company for lack of required data security
  6. Lack of sufficient environmental controls which caused the computer systems to overheat to the point of complete failure
  7. A virus infection which was designed to wipe out or erase all data on a computer hard drive
  8. Hardware failure from normal usage

As you can see, not all disasters are "Acts of God" out of your control. In fact, numbers 2 through 8 are 100% preventable. To prevent these disasters you just need to know what process, procedures, or products to put into place.

How did these disasters impact the businesses to the point of putting the company out of business?

The answer is actually pretty simple. Essentially, the businesses were unable to deliver their product or service to their clients because...

  1. Customers could not communicate with the business due to phone or email systems being unavailable
  2. Ordering, inventory, and accounting databases were lost or unavailable preventing the processing of customer orders
  3. The good name or reputation of the business was lost causing customers to go elsewhere because of lack of reliability, slow delivery of product, or lack of confidence their private data is secure

And the above is just to name a few causes, but you get the idea.

Next Blog: What steps you need to take to prevent the above from happening to your business.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stuxnet: The Cyberweapon That Almost Blew Up a Nuclear Powerplant - Update

Back in September 2011 I wrote a blog article entitled "The Cyberweapon That Almost Succeeded in Blowing Up a Nuclear Power Plant" that told the story of the cyber attack on an Iranian nuclear power plant.  Recently CBS 60 Minutes picked up on the Stuxnet story and created a 15 minute segment entitled "Stuxnet: Computer worm opens new era of warfare".  Security professionals have been sounding the alarm for years that our power facilities, power grid, and manufacturing plants are vulnerable to sabotage by a cyber attack. I highly recommend you watch this video. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Windows XP Be Gone!

It is time to ditch Window XP! If your business hasn't moved to Windows 7, then the time is now...and here's why...

I'm not a Microsoft raving fan, nor am I an unofficial representative. Rather, I am just a computer consultant that has business clients and has to deal with the realities of the Microsoft dominance of the business computing market. When Microsoft came out with Vista and promoted its innovations, I took a pass and kept all my clients on Windows XP. Vista proved to be buggy, unstable and slow. Business needs systems that are reliable, stable and efficient. Waitng for Windows 7 proved to be the best idea. The improvements Microsoft made to Windows 7 over Vista were numerous and well worth the wait. It is fair to say that Windows 7 is my favorite of all the Microsoft operating systems.

Micosoft has annouced that it will stop supporting Windows XP in April of 2014. That may sound like along time away. But, let's get real! Lack of support means that there will be no security patches which will leave your computer vulnerable to the latest attacks. As a business you need to be in compliance with Federal and State data security laws and you can't be in compliance if you can't keep your systems secure. Also, lack of support means software vendors will stop making applications for Windows XP. So, increasingly your company will have fewer and fewer application options for new software or even updates to your current applications.

Your business needs to plan NOW for the transition.

Again, let's get real! You can't set up a new business computer and have all the functionality you have now with your old 5 minutes! Yeah, I wish. It is going to take time and money. Plan your budget and plan for the time it is going to take to purchase, install, configure and train your staff.

And, if Microsoft stopping support on Windows XP is not enough, Microsoft is going to be coming out with Windows 8 by 2013 (And, maybe sooner if Microsoft can get is engineering act together!) Some of you may be thinking that it would be best to wait for Windows 8. You may be thinking choosing to transtion from Windows XP to Windows 8 would be fine. Think again.  My recommendation is DON'T WAIT! Get Windows 7 while you's why...

According, to Paul Thurrott who is a highly respected industry analyst for Window IT Pro magazine and SuperSite for Windows puts the reason into perspective, "Windows 7 was a minor update with extremely clear goals: Keep everything that was right about Windows Vista but make it faster, smaller, lighter, and more manageable. Windows 8, meanwhile, is a revolution. And these things take time." And, as a "revolution" as Paul Thurrott states, the operating system will most likely be like Vista was in that it will be buggy. Paul continues "...there's this measure of doubt that something has gone wrong....Some (developer) complaint posts are so long and so frequently commented on that they're actually locked because they've become too unmanageable. Finding a positive note here is next to impossible."

The wait for Windows 8 may take more time than you think, and there is a strong probabilty it won't be worth the wait for the intial release. But, regardless of what happens with Windows 8, Microsoft will continue with it's plan to phase out Windows XP. It is time to ditch Windows XP and move to Windows 7!