Are we having fun yet? 2020 has certainly been an interesting year and now that we have officially entered June I have to ask, what will the 2020 season look like? Well, luckily we have some help. It’s anticipated that the coming hurricane season will see a number of named storms. Forecasters from Colorado State University predict that this season will be almost 50% more severe than the average season (because why not). Given indications that the COVID-19 outbreak will continue into the hurricane season, this situation requires a new kind of planning. Without proper planning, the threat of hurricanes combined with Covid-19 is a recipe for disaster. And that planning needs to happen now.
Because of our tenure in a hurricane-impacted marketplace, UDI uniquely specializes in this type of scenario planning, helping organizations, especially in hurricane-prone areas, identify emerging and unknown risks and increase their resiliency to those situations. So here are a few tips:
Look at your business continuity plans now
One thing I have consistently seen at UDI in my 37 years is that every crisis triggers a domino effect of other crises – or a chain reaction. As the COVID-19 crisis grew, its devastating domino effect knocked down economies, societies, businesses, and personal lives. It is critical to understand and address the chain reaction from a crisis in a Business Continuity Plan (BCP), especially now that the upcoming hurricane season will force businesses to make decisions they never thought about or had to plan for before.
Some things to consider and improve your plan are the impacts on people, infrastructure, supply chains, and insurance. During disasters and other unplanned events, businesses need a plan to support the people that keep the business operational, as well as the technology that supports them. Whether working to mitigate displacement from COVID-19 or evacuations due to a hurricane, the physical safety and mental wellbeing of people is the most important factor in maintaining business continuity. From an insurance standpoint, organizations need to understand what coverage they have, based on different scenarios, and determine what they need to share with insurance companies to get the appropriate support, guidance, and coverage.
Early notification fuels decision making
A major concern of local governments, first responders, non-profits, and other businesses in hurricane-impacted zones is how to track when the next incident will occur and where. Early notification about a storm pattern allows businesses to proactively communicate with their customers ahead of a natural disaster and discuss the currency of their BCP to prevent or minimize data loss. In addition, you also need to ensure your BCP is properly addressing the fastest-growing risk – which is cyber threats. From managing the increased risk of cyber attacks during a crisis to data replication and protection, whether in the cloud or in a physical data center/centre, organizations must ensure that all of this information is properly addressed in the BCP; enabling businesses to take the appropriate actions to prevent or minimize the impacts from a crisis event.
Don’t forget cybersecurity
Our experience shows that instances of cyber-attacks tend to rise during natural disasters and global emergencies, as they have during the pandemic. It is easy for businesses to make mistakes and not follow standard protocol while trying to manage other critical business operations during a crisis. Businesses need to remember to protect their data and the systems on which it is created and managed, to make sure it can be recovered securely and quickly. Also, it is important for businesses to notify their customers, and for everyone to be aware of the likely possibility of an increase in malware and phishing attacks. Whether due to a natural disaster or COVID-19, many of us are working from home and are not in our usual workplace. We may be using home computers or networks which may not have the same security protections as we would normally have when working in the office so the need to focus on security best practices is more important than ever.
During this challenging moment, everyone is experiencing many different emotions. Fear, anger, frustration, and sadness are an outward representation of the uncertainty in the world, and feelings of our lives being out of control. I am confident that these times will leads to growth that allows for a better understanding of what is and is not working and how we can emerge from any crisis stronger and better. Now we just need to turn off the news and love our neighbors.