Cyberattacks are only going to grow in intensity and frequency—are you ready?

“I fear for the day where every hospital system is down, for instance, because an IoT attack brings down the entire healthcare system.” – Kevin Fu, CEO of the cybersecurity firm Virta Labs

Cyber-warfare is not coming—it’s here.  Russia, China, and a number of other states are recruiting and training hackers to attack digital infrastructures the way pilots are trained to bomb factories and power plants.  There is little to keep a terrorist organization or hostile foreign state from attacking these necessary infrastructures and completely disrupting our businesses.  Is your business prepared to go pen and paper if necessary?

We’ve become reliant on technology

Many hospital systems are so dependent on digital infrastructure that some physicians have become entirely reliant on them to determine dosing of drugs.  Many airports are unable to operate without their computer systems.  Work at some banks would come to a grinding halt if its computers went down.

Unless we achieve everlasting world peace, there will be another massive war, and cyberattacks will be part of it.  Instead of bombing power plants, hackers will take down their computer networks.  Instead of blowing up factories, banking systems will be targeted.  Rather than blowing up highways and bridges, they will cut fiber optics cables.  Unlike wars in the past, businesses far from the front lines will be impacted, and those that prepare will be ready.

Plan and train your staff

A foreign state launches a massive attack.  Hackers target your cloud provider.  A storm interrupts your internet service for days.  A backhoe  severs a vital fiber optics cable.  What does your staff do?

Your company needs to have a contingency plan for a computer-free workplace.  Management must have a plan to continue work without a digital infrastructure and staff must be prepared “to go old school” to get their jobs done.  Planning and training your staff will be critical to ensuring that your organization can continue to operate.  How will we communicate with each other and our customers?  How will mission-critical functions be carried out?  Who will be responsible for the tasks that are normally completed by computers?  These questions and many more must be answered before the computers go out, not after.

Practice

Necessary services such as power plants, police and fire departments, and hospitals should run drills to practice computer-free operations the way schools run fire drills.  Such services are too critical to run the risk of having members not know what to do should their digital information systems go down, and far less of them are prepared to do so than one would ever imagine.

Your workplace would be well-served to do the same.  Could your business continue to operate if it lost internet access for a week?  If you operate in an industry that existed before “the information superhighway” showed up in the 90s, it should be easier for you to train your staff to continue work.  If you operate in a digital-reliant business—such as a digital marketing agency named 12khz—you should have a contingency plan to keep from going out of business.

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