What If Your Employees Cannot Come to Work?

by | Oct/18/2012

What if an IT attack, or some other event, shuts down water supplies and electricity to a large area including where your employees work? Is your organization prepared?

In July, I listened to Shawn Henry, former FBI executive assistant director in charge of cyber-investigations, talk about the dangers of cyber-warfare that could allow terrorists to attack the SCADA infrastructure and shut down public utilities to large areas.

He didn’t talk about scenarios where first grocery stores run out of food, other stores run out of goods, people get hungry, hospitals are overwhelmed, highways out of metropolitan areas get jammed, tempers flare, people “do what they’ve got to do” to protect their family, police departments are swamped and there is no electricity to pump gas into their patrol cars anyway, spas and resorts are forced to close, etc.—basically the end of the world as we know it.

Eventually, things will return to normal, and how will your bottom line fare the storm?

Whatever the cause, natural disaster, human error, or worse, your employees may not be able to get to your office. This situation could drastically affect your ability to serve your clients.

It is crucial that you have plans in place, practiced in regular drills, to allow your workers to “work from wherever they are.” Workstation Virtualization with products from Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware provide “high availability” for servers. Additionally, they provide ways for your workers to basically “connect from anywhere” as long as they have power for their computer and a connection to the Internet.

Workstation Virtualization is different than “remote control” products such as GoToMyPC and LogMeIn (which are both awesome services) since those services can require computers at your office that “remote users” control from the outside. That means if you have 50 remote users, you would potentially need 50 computers for remote users to connect. With workstation virtualization, the need for those “internal computers” evaporates since users will connect directly to a protected and secure area in your servers.

If your servers are housed in a secure data center with generators then, in theory, your workers can keep working the same way they did before the disaster.

If they are in a metropolitan area, be sure they keep some kind of food in their car and have a plan to “get their family out of town” right away.

Focus, today, on your disaster recovery and business continuity planning.