When it’s “business as usual”, it seems strange to think about disruptions and disasters. With competing priorities and the pressure of everyday demands, planning for worst-case scenarios can feel alarmist and macabre. But as anyone experienced in disaster preparedness will tell you, the best time to prepare for unexpected disruptions to your business is before they happen. And in today’s digital workplace, the ability to support remote employees and ensure secure access to work resources is an essential component of a business continuity plan.
Why a business continuity plan?
When we talk about business continuity, we mean the ability of your organization to keep functioning as normally as possible when the unexpected happens. The “unexpected” could be anything from a natural disaster like a wildfire or hurricane, to a public health event like a pandemic, to the sickness or death of a CEO or key employee.
Building a business continuity plan undoubtedly requires time and resources. Business Continuity Planning has many facets – organizational, along the supply chain, but also many IT aspects, with IT running the business. Let’s focus on the IT side of BCM. You’ll need to complete an inventory of all physical structures, technology, personnel, data, and documentation in use. Essentially, you’ll need a complete view of what your business and its employees need to function every day. Then you’ll need to understand how each potential disaster or unexpected event could impact all of those elements.
Whatever the event, having a business continuity plan in place makes the organization more resilient. Leaders and employees can act with confidence and disruptions to business activities are minimized.
Key questions to consider when planning for business continuity in IT environments
Many businesses have already transitioned some or all of their operations to the cloud. If that’s true of your business, operating in the cloud means some aspects of business continuity may already be addressed. SaaS providers usually employ automated backups, redundancy, encryption and other preventative measures that complement disaster preparedness.
But businesses need to go further. When thinking about business continuity, key questions include:
- Who has access to which resources/data/apps/documents/services?
- What devices do they use, or can they use, inside or outside a physical office?
- How can they maintain that access no matter where they are?
- How can employees share that access as needed, either internally or externally?
- How can we ensure that the authorized employee is the only one who can access their resources?
- How can we prevent against cyberthreats – internal or external – while still making access easy for employees?
- If an employee suddenly leaves or dies, how can we take over their accounts and ensure we have access to anything business-critical that they were responsible for?
All of these needs boil down to how identity is managed and secured in your business.
How an identity solution supports business continuity
A holistic identity and access management (IAM) strategy of course has benefits beyond business continuity planning. But when preparing your business for the unexpected, an identity solution that integrates access and authentication can keep employees working efficiently while maintaining a high level of security. Putting a solution in place in advance is ideal, but solutions like LastPass can also be deployed quickly and securely in the midst of an event, too.
Some of the ways an identity solution supports business continuity include:
- Single sign-on manages access in a centralized way so IT has insight into who has access to what, from where
- Enterprise password management ensures oversight of shadow IT and enforceable policies across all password-protected accounts
- Multi-factor authentication requires additional factors to prove a user’s identity while the use of biometrics and contextual factors makes the process smooth for employees
- Password vaults can be recovered, and access can be reassigned in the event of a departure or death
- Account access and passwords can be shared securely between employees, including when they’re remote
In short, the features available in a holistic identity solution addresses many key aspects of business continuity planning in the digital age. Employees can maintain secure, streamlined access to work resources, no matter where they are or what device they need to use to connect to work. IT can maintain oversight and control of employee access. If an employee’s accounts need to be recovered, IT has a failsafe in place. The risk of a data breach is reduced thanks to secure password requirements and the use of strong authentication protocols.
An identity solution is of course only one tool in your toolbox when planning for business continuity. But when it comes to maintaining secure, simplified employee access and strong authentication, in the “normal” times and in the midst of a crisis, an identity solution is essential.