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5 Regional Threats That May Impact Your Business Continuity Plan

Up until recently, most business continuity planners built their recovery plans based upon the “worse case scenario” being a complete data center failure. It was expected that such a scenario would wreak havoc on the organizations ability to conduct operations for even the shortest amount of time. Data center failures were our worst nightmare. But in the grand scheme of things, we knew we could mitigate the risk by careful planning and elimination of single-points-of-failure. In other words, because this was in “our house” – we felt as if we had a smidgeon of control.

But what about those threats that are outside the control of your leadership team and technology gurus? I am talking about the threats that impact your community and fellow business leaders. In today’s post, we are going to take a look at 5 regional threats that could potentially cause a severe disruption to your business.

As you go along through the post, ask yourself what you are doing to build strong mitigation plans to address these!

Regional Internet Outage – So you’ve built your cloud-based infrastructure and are feeling pretty good about meeting your recovery time objectives (RTO) when all of a sudden, your “network” goes down. You scramble to switch to your backup ISP and find out that isn’t working either! Word comes out that a major component of the internet backbone has been compromised/failed. This map shows the long-haul fiber that carries Internet data around the United States. Red squares show where different cables connect, mostly in major population centers. Knowing your actual packet path of your primary and backup ISP services is key to mitigating this risk.

Power grid or other utility failure – Without power, many financial institutions would lose total operational capability in an extended outage. Understanding your vulnerability in a regional event that disrupts power will help you develop plans to recover/restore service faster. Power grid information is also highly valuable when building new facilities as you are more likely to have power restored if you are on the same grid as hospital, police, fire and other public health and safety services.

Natural disaster based on location (earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado) – This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to most business continuity planners, especially those in threat risk zones such as hurricane, earthquake or tornado regions.  My point with including this in the list is to expand your thinking when it comes to the impact these threats will have on your community as a whole. Lessons learned from major events like Katrina, Sandy and even the 2011 Japan Tsunami are readily available and should be standard reading for those sharing similar regional risks.

Civil unrest – 2017 has seen an exponentially growing activism across our nation. While some cities consider protests their “norm” (think Washington D.C.) and have procedures and policies in place to handle these events, others have never considered what a city-wide event would do to their daily operations.  The city of Baltimore was caught off guard in 2015 when civil unrest erupted following the death of Freddie Gray. The protests, from April 19 until roughly May 6 resulted in 250 arrests, 350 business damaged, 150 vehicle fires, 60 structure fires and a state of emergency declared. For most, this was a first in our lifetime and hadn’t been addressed in our continuity planning.

Biological/Chemical Attack/Nuclear event – Since the horrific attack on U.S soil on 9/11, terrorism and war-like violence must be considered as viable threats to our organization. While we ultimately realize the danger is there, it is felt that we have little to no control in this scenario.  Police train for riots, first responders role-play nuclear attacks and government organizations such as FEMA and the Treasury spend countless hours building resiliency plans that include terrorism (both physical and cyber). It is through these experts that we will learn how to trickle down the lessons and incorporate them into our organizational plans.

Keeping up with these threats is no easy task. Reach out today to your local FIRST (Fostering Industry Resilience & Security Through Teamwork) representative to see how you can capitalize on their efforts building the private-public relationships required during these scenarios.

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