Mastering the Challenge of Disaster Recovery

 

Credit unions are no stranger to the physics of Murphy’s law. If something can go wrong, it will. In an age where cybercrime is hotly discussed and natural disasters crop up when they are least expected, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks of losing data as a credit union.

Risks can be natural or manmade, across a wide spectrum—from wildfires to hackers, a comprehensive disaster recovery solution should cover a range of potential disasters. However, that solution does not need to be extremely specific. The most common errors include natural disasters, cybercrime, and human error. The specific risk you’ll need to prevent is never certain—that’s why disaster recovery functions as such an important form of insurance. 

A disaster recovery solution shouldn’t be bulky and expensive. 

The most common solution(s) for disaster recovery purposes are typically physical locations. However, physical data storage drives up costs in the form of equipment,  connections, and employees that are in charge of managing those hefty physical elements. In addition, when a physical approach is taken, multiple physical locations are used, further driving up costs.

Your customers expect excellence when they access your services through digital channels and share their valuable information with you. Those requirements translate to the safety of their data. You don’t want to lose customers since you failed to implement a solution that protected their information.

These expectations stem from our everyday conveniences—how did you feel the last time your internet went down? Customers expect the same fluidity. When you develop a disaster recovery solution, the effectiveness of the solution should mean that customers don’t experience hiccups in their digital experience. 

While you can’t prepare for a specific disaster, you can prepare for the worst.

The disaster recovery challenge is characterized by the way one responds to the breach. If a breach or disaster does occur, learn how to respond and recover from cybersecurity incidents

If you haven’t made disaster recovery a priority for your credit union this year, you may want to consider its role in your business: financial institutions are often the target of cybercrime and natural disasters are never predictable. Plus, there are many advantages to prioritizing disaster recovery.

With disaster recovery come the following benefits:

  • Minimized downtime and rapid business restoration
  • Near-zero data loss with on-site backups and real-time replication
  • Our secure branch communications allow immediate connections

Disaster recovery shouldn’t be a difficult term to hear, because it is more about planning than it is about the actual scenario. When the need for your disaster recovery solution to kick into place arises, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve implemented the best possible planning beforehand.

Essentially, disaster recovery plans are a form of insurance. We help to ensure that the challenges you face can be remedied smoothly and efficiently—the IMS Crash Response team is ready 24/7 to respond to any disasters. Find out more about how you can optimize your disaster recovery response.


The Difference Between Credit Union Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity Planning

Most people use the terms “business continuity planning” and “disaster recovery” interchangeably, but they are two completely different strategies that organizations use to protect operations and bounce back from a disaster.

What are the main differences between business continuity plans and disaster recovery plans anyway? While the exact answer varies depending on who we ask, the general rule goes:

  • A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) consists of a series of protocols made to make sure that an organization can continue operations during a disaster. It answers the question: “How can our credit union remain operational during a disruptive event?”
  • A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) is often a subset of BCP and refers to the processes and tech needed for recovering from a disaster. It specifically pertains to recovering lost data and restoring failed infrastructure. This answers: “How does our credit union recover when a disaster strikes?”

Think of a BCP as a general strategy that businesses put in place to be able to continue operations with minimal disruption during a disaster. A DRP is much more specific. It’s a plan to recover the applications, data and other components that allow your organization to operate should your servers or data center get damaged or destroyed. 

Why are both Business Continuity Plans and Disaster Recovery Plans important?

Now more than ever, credit unions have to guard against a number of threats that can hinder operations. Aside from natural calamities such as earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, or floods, you now have to protect yourself from man-made threats such as cybercrime and attacks from competitors or disgruntled employees. Without both of these plans in place, your credit union may face severe consequences.

According to a study by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), “following a disaster, 90% of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within 5 days.” Without comprehensive plans for preparing for these events, financial institutions are wide open targets.

By focusing on creating and regularly updating both business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning, leadership can make sure that their credit unions can weather through these events.

How do BCPs and DRPs overlap?

In actual use, both plans are referred to when describing an organization’s disaster preparedness. However, it’s very important to remember that a comprehensive business continuity plan will always have a disaster recovery plan built right into it. Think of your BCP as a master document that covers all aspects of your credit union’s disaster prevention, management and response, including the necessary recovery protocols. You can’t have an effective business continuity plan without tackling how your credit union will recover from different kinds of disasters.

Are you ready to fully prepare your credit union for any potential disaster? IMS has your back. Learn more about our Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Recovery solutions!


3 CyberSecurity Issues That Credit Unions Need To Watch Out For

Is secure disaster recovery one of your credit union’s priorities this year? Now more than ever, financial institutions should place higher importance on resilience after cybersecurity incidents, IT failures and severe weather events.

The majority of the context for disaster recovery planning involves the types of disasters your credit union wants to defend against. Previously, we would see IT outages, power failures and natural disasters as the top three threats to watch out for. However, over the past few years, the likelihood of a cyberattack occurring is more dominant than anything else on the list. This is why secure disaster recovery should be a priority.

While they almost feel equally disastrous, blackouts and floods aren’t on the same level as cyber criminals who are proactively looking for ways to breach your credit union’s defenses. Criminal organizations have been increasing the frequency of their attacks, their use of automation tools, and improving their social engineering tactics to raise their chances of successfully attacking certain industries and organizations.

Data breaches and disaster recovery planning go together. Cyber criminal groups are extremely aware of the security measures that vendors are implementing. Take a look at 3 cybersecurity issues that should drive your credit union to prioritize disaster recovery:

  • Ransomware

Unfortunately, this type of attack is stronger than ever, especially in the credit union industry. According to the Beazley Breach Response Services team, the number of ransomware attacks ballooned in the first quarter of 2019, reporting an increase of 105% in the number of attacks against clients compared to last year.

Hackers are also doubling down by implementing ways to stop IT departments from recovering by either incorporating a “ransomware attack loop” or compromising your backups. This technique is specifically designed to attack your credit union’s ability to recover. 

  • Compliance

More and more compliance laws are taking effect and your credit union needs to act now. GDPR and the Ohio Data Protection Act are currently in effect, while the California Consumer Privacy Act follows next year.

These laws work to protect customer privacy and require similar protection around the integrity and security of their data. This directly affects your disaster recovery strategy around making sure that you can restore security and the data itself back to a usable state.

  • Island hopping (targeted attacks)

This advanced technique involves cyber criminals gaining access and control over systems, user emails and accounts in one organization to be used to commit data theft, fraud and other crimes in another company. For most cases, hackers create entirely new accounts and separate emails as part of their strategy. So even if your credit union is not the target victim of a group, the cleanup involved after being part of a data breach includes securely returning the company’s data and systems to its right state.

Compliance standards and cyberattacks require organizations to plan well in advance for these types of disasters. IMS’ Disaster Recovery services ensure that in the event of any unforseen event, your credit union will be able to quickly resume operations. 


How Can Your Credit Union Prepare For Disaster Recovery?

For financial institutions and the majority of organizations across the U.S., natural disasters can strike at any moment and in many forms. When the inevitable happens, your credit union should be able to handle your disaster recovery and resume operations as soon as possible.

Your members’ financial information is extremely valuable, but it is also vulnerable. When there are threats against your data security, natural or man-made, this automatically puts your credit union at risk. Having unsecure data significantly affects a large number of people and the fallout can devastate your credit union.

A comprehensive recovery solution doesn’t have to be extremely specific about the type of disaster it can protect your credit union from. However, it’s advised to consider the most common potential crises depending on your location, such as:

  • Cyber crime
  • Human error
  • Tropical storms or hurricanes
  • Wildfires
  • Flood
  • Earthquake
  • Tornado

How to Safely Store Your Data

When the worst-case scenario comes to pass, you need to make sure your data is backed up in a secure area. The first step is to keep it backed up on an offsite location. While many stop at this point, this doesn’t secure your valuable credit union data.

Redundancy is a must. You’ll never know if the next disaster is far-reaching or if it will strike two areas at the same time. To be truly prepared for a calamity, you need multiple data backup and recovery centers.

Multiple physical backups are the most common solutions for disaster recovery purposes, but it can be cumbersome and costly. Several physical sets of equipment, connections, etc will be needed. Also, the right peple should always know where the data is stored, at which location, and with which service provider. This significantly drives up the cost.

IMS offers credit union disaster recovery solutions without the unnecessary equipment, expense, or the headaches that come with it. If your credit union has high standards for your organization’s data and information, our robust systems will exceed your expectations on data security and disaster recovery.

Think of it as another form of insurance. As much as we want to, we can’t always accurately predict the weather or when the next disaster will affect our areas. But what we can do is to prepare for the worst.


Respond And Recover From Credit Union Cyber Security Incidents

As financial processes become even more reliant on current technology, regulations and restrictions on cyber security tighten by the day. In recent years, the financial industry in particular has gone through more than its fair share of security breaches. In fact, credit unions and other financial institutions with less than $35 million in assets accounted for a shocking 81% of data breaches just this 2016.

The fallout of these malware and hacking incidents resulted in stricter security policies and higher expectations for the data security of members, staff and businesses themselves. 

Credit unions have since been striving to develop a culture of cyber security that is deep-rooted in each stage of data storage and transit, including over networks and in-branch. While the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) provides a recommended process for determining, protecting, and discovering potential security risks, it is crucial to have a plan in place if a breach should occur.

Below are a few considerations for responding to and recovering from credit union cyber security incidents:

How To Respond

As always, prevention is better than cure when it comes to cyber disasters. Having a recovery plan in place before such a calamity strikes is extremely important. But while a comprehensive cyber security protocol will protect against the majority of breaches, even the most stringent programs are not immune from attack. Preparing how your credit union will respond will help you work through these incidents with calm and confidence.

Directly after a security breach, disconnect affect networks and equipment to effectively take them offline. Contact your vendors or in-house IT staff to help assess the situation. Connect with your credit union’s legal representation as well to begin tackling any effects of the attack.

Being able to continue operations as usual can be your credit union’s lifesaver, so consider disaster recovery solutions that minimize downtime and help you restore your business as soon as possible. Lastly, make sure you are familiar with state data security laws before notifying the critical parties as soon as you can after a breach occurs.

How To Recover

Begin recovering from a cyber security breach by analyzing your credit union’s post-breach process. What did your credit union do well and what could have been done better? Take these observations and document them as needed improvements for security policies that you will communicate to your staff and incorporate into your current cyber security program. It can be very helpful to encourage further education and improvement of cyber security knowledge so your plan will be as effective as it can be.

Finally, your attention and resources should be directed to doing damage control to reassure members of their trust and confidence in your credit union. Security breaches aren’t just a negative incident for your credit union, but a moment of panic for your members too. They will need your reaffirmation that your institution is taking all the needed precautions when it comes to their data.

No two credit unions are the same, and this goes for their cyber security plans too. Depending on its size, different types and levels of security will be needed. Preparing for a cyber security breach is critical even for credit unions with exemplary security protocols. Don’t make the biggest mistake that credit unions can make when it comes to the security of their systems and member data: assuming that they are safe from cyber crime.


3 Reasons Why Your Credit Union Needs Disaster Recovery Solutions

We’ll get straight to the point: you need a disaster recovery solution for your credit union. And it’s not just because it’s mandated by the NCUA. Your CU’s resilience and continued success is all the more easier to achieve if you have this strategy in place.

Disaster recovery involves practices, policies and tools that work toward continuing operations in the event of a man-made or natural disaster. This business strategy helps to mitigate damage and assist with recovering from the incident.

The recent years have been challenging for credit unions across the country. Natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes have taken their toll on American citizens and businesses. Your credit union needs a plan to recover from one if it happens.

Read on to learn 3 reasons why your credit union needs disaster recovery solutions:

  • Members may leave if they don’t have access to critical credit union services

If your credit union is handling a disaster, chances are high that your members are dealing with the same. During emergencies, easy access to critical services and most importantly, their money, is of the highest priority to members. 

If your credit union is caught unaware when a crisis occurs, members are likely to lose confidence and leave for an alternative institution that can better ensure the safety of their finances.

  • The NCUA has strict sanctions for credit unions who don’t follow regulations

According to the NCUA, all credit unions have to test their disaster recovery solutions at least once a year (source). They require credit unions to have a working disaster recovery plan or system in place, and failure to keep one would lead to strict regulatory action.

  • Crucial data might be lost in the event of an actual disaster

While your credit union can recover from lost members or a sanction from the NCUA, it’s very likely that you won’t be able to recover from a true disaster.

Without a comprehensive credit union disaster recovery strategy, you can lose a large amount of significant and crucial data. Without data and records, your credit union could be permanently affected.

The Value Of Cloud Storage In Disaster Recovery Strategies

In the past, credit unions primarily stored their data using on-site storage and in remote branch facilities. This practice carries significant risks because data is stored in just one physical location.

With cloud storage, data is much safer from the majority of all disasters. If you’d like to learn more about how disaster recovery can ensure business continuity, our experts will be happy to speak with you!


If Disaster Recovery were a Superhero?

 

The other day I was thinking back to when my son was about 3 or 4 years old and he started to mimic some of the Superheroes he saw in the movies and on television. He would put together all kinds of unique Superhero outfits, combined with various assorted make-believe weapons, but, over time he gravitated to one particular costume which always made us laugh.

Most mornings he would appear at his bedroom door with a red plastic helmet on his head, blue plastic swim goggles strapped tightly over his eyes, a long flowing black cape (think Darth Vader), various pajama shorts in assorted kid related patterns and knee-high black rubber boots. Of course, he was a very macho superhero and was adamant that a shirt would never be part of any respectable superhero’s ensemble, even when outside temperatures dipped below freezing.cool-goggle-28-image-girl-cool-goggle-boy-toddler-kid-anti-uv-kid-girl-boy-cool

I think our resident superhero began to gravitate to this particular outfit because he was one of those kids that always liked making people laugh and no matter how I tried, when he would appear in the above- mentioned Superhero garb, I would invariably laugh out loud or at minimum, his appearance always made me smile. The fact that I started calling him “Goggle Boy” only seemed to solidify his new Superhero identity. Both of our kids loved hearing bedtime stories and every once and awhile, I would regale them with the occasional Adventures of Goggle Boy stories.

This trip down Superhero memory lane got me thinking what kind of Superhero it takes to be a Backup and Disaster Recovery provider in today’s always-on credit union environment. Being a Disaster Recovery superhero to credit unions is not for the faint of heart and at times it requires nothing short of superhero intelligence, talent, grit and determination. Our twenty years of disaster recovery experience has taught us that no two recovery scenarios are the same and it takes tremendous teamwork to recover multiple IT systems and get them fully functional within the designated SLA’s, RTO’s and RPO’s. We think our employees are true Superheroes and one thing you can count on is that we will work non-stop and around the clock until all systems are up and fully functional… in true Superhero fashion!

If you’re in the teAoU_Iron_Man_Mk43_artchnology space and want to recruit some of the Marvel Mystery Superheroes, then Iron Man (Tony Stark) may be Team Disaster Recovery’s franchise player of choice.  After all, Tony Stark is an ordinary human who is highly skilled in the world of technology and science… actually, he’s one of the three smartest people on earth.  If Tony Stark can figure out how to fly, build an Arc Reactor on his chest and a Nano-tube armor suit, he should be pretty good at restoring servers, managing network infrastructures and keeping the whole IT environment safe and secure. Iron Man could even use his direct cyberpathic control over the entire telecom and satellite system to get the recovery process to where it’s really as easy as it looks to the technology novice.

The Black Panther (T’Challa) would be a welcome addition to Team Disaster Recovery, with his PhD in physics from Oxford University, and his extensive knowledge of all things technology, T’Challa and Tony Stark would make a potent technological team.  With Black Panther’s knowledge of advanced military technology, it would be easy to keep all that data safe and secure. Thanks to the Black Panther’s advanced psychic powers and shadow psychic weapons, any cyber-attacks would either be detected well in advance of the attack or quickly neutralized if the attack were to occur.

It’s common knowledge that the technology space isn’t exactly packed with members of the female persuasion, which means captain marvelwe should take look at Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) and do our part to tip the scales that direction. Carol Danvers went directly from high school to the Air Force in order to pursue her love of flying and her interest in aircraft.  Because of her strong combat skills, stellar performance and natural intelligence she quickly rose to the rank of Major.  Shortly thereafter Carol was recruited by the CIA and later by N.A.S.A., as the Cape Canaveral Security Director. With her highly developed intellect and strong leadership skills, Captain Marvel may be just the team player to balance out all of that Superhero testosterone.

Speaking of testosterone, Thor is a Superhero that a lot of guys probably identify with.  After all he’s ruggedly handsome, possesses superhuman strength, is virtually immortal and gets to yield all the powers of Mjolnir’s Hammer.   Here’s the thing, Thor isn’t likely to make a great Disaster Recovery Superhero, since he has the ability to summon the destructive powers of the storm, wind, rain, thunder, and lightning.  Obviously, Thor’s super storm powers are what Disaster Recovery Superheroes are often working to mitigate.   Sorry Thor, you’re a cool dude, but Disaster Recovery and super storm powers… not a great match, but we’ll keep your resume on file, just in case we come up with a position that matches your unique skillsets.

While we’re in the process of elimination, it may be prudent to cross the Hulk off the candidate list.  In order to be a great disaster recovery Superhero, it helps to be cool as a cucumber with the ability to handle extreme pressure. Since the Hulk only appears when something totally ticks-off Bruce Banner, there is a good chance the Hulk would lose his cool under stress and end up tearing up the data center. Which means it’s probably best to keep Thor and Hulk on the sideline. With Thor and Hulk out of the picture, we’re left with Spiderman, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Black Widow, Daredevil, and Captain America.

Rather than making the remaining selections, perhaps you should decide who belongs on your Disaster Recovery Superhero Team? Here are the talents of the remaining candidates… who would you add to ensure that your data, IT systems and hardware receives Superhero recovery attention? The future of the planet may not be at stake, but the future of your credit union may hang in the balance… You decide!

Spiderman: Generally enhanced physiology, possible mystical connection, wall-crawling, superhuman strength, durability, healing factor, jumping, leaping, and speed, superhuman agility, reflexes and equilibrium, fighting style, Spider-sense.

Wolverine: Super-human senses and the power to heal from almost any wound, unbreakable skeleton and three retractable claws in each hand, exceptional hand-to-hand combatant, having mastered virtually every fighting style, trained expert in multiple types of weapons, vehicles, computer systems, explosives, and assassination techniques, fluent in many languages, including Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Spanish; and some knowledge of French, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Captain America: Agility, strength, speed, endurance, and reaction time superior to any Olympic athlete who ever competed. The Super-Soldier formula that he has metabolized has enhanced all of his bodily functions to the peak of human efficiency. Notably, his body eliminates the excessive build-up of fatigue-producing poisons in his muscles, granting him phenomenal endurance. Master of the martial arts of American-style boxing and judo, and has combined these disciplines with his own unique hand-to-hand style of combat. Captain America is subject to all human vulnerabilities, although his immunity to diseases is extraordinary.  Captain America’s round shield was developed by Tony Stark (Iron Man) an is made of virtually indestructible Vibranium.

Luke Cage: Luke Cage possesses superhuman strength and stamina, and has extremely-dense skin and muscle tissue, which render him highly resistant to physical injury. Cage possesses these abilities as a result of a cellular regeneration experiment which fortified the various tissues of his body. His skin can resist high-caliber bullets, puncture wounds, corrosives, biological attacks, and extreme temperatures and pressures without sustaining damage. A second exposure to said experiments further enhanced his strength and durability.

Black Widow: World class athlete, gymnast, acrobat, aerialist capable of numerous complex maneuvers and feats, expert martial artist, marksman and weapons specialist as well as having extensive espionage training. Enhanced by biotechnology that makes her body resistant to aging and disease, as well as psychological conditioning that suppresses her memory of true events as opposed to implanted ones of the past without the aid of specially designed system suppressant drugs.

Daredevil: Daredevil is blind, and his remaining four senses function with superhuman accuracy and sensitivity, giving him abilities far beyond the limits of a sighted person. Daredevil developed a radar sense, which is similar to echolocation. Daredevil has no superhuman physical attributes beyond an enhanced sense of balance, but he is a master of martial art and hand-to-hand combat.

*Information was derived on various Marvel-centric websites including Marvel.com.


Is the Public Cloud Worthy of our Trust?

The Cloud as we all know it, has become such a massive reality in our daily lives that may seem a bit overwhelming at times.  For many people, the Cloud seems to hold a strange, almost magical mystique.  When discussions turn to the Cloud, there is sometimes a hushed reverence that permeates the conversation, something akin to prayer and worship.  For certain individuals, the Cloud evokes a nearly religious devotion, but is the Cloud worthy of such avid devotion or is the Cloud more of a flawed Deity, no less vulnerable than the humans who created it and continue to nurture it today?

Let’s take a quick look at the Cloud’s simple origins.   In its simplest form, the Cloud is merely a server or several servers, sitting in a data center somewhere and connected by intranet for private use or provided for public use via internet.  The Cloud Almighty has been in existence since January 1, 1983, when ARPANET adopted TCP/IP, which took on a more familiar form in 1990 when ARPANET was decommissioned and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was credited with inventing the World Wide Web.image - data center - cloud

A private cloud typically provides connectivity between two dedicated sites and is locked down for use by an organization.   Also known as an internal cloud, where all data is protected behind firewalls on the company’s intranet.  A private cloud is a common option for companies with more than one data center and all the hardware and components needed to create a cloud.  All maintenance and updating of infrastructure is the sole responsibility of the company.  Private clouds may offer an increased level of security and there is very little or no sharing of resources with other organizations.

The typical public cloud is a scenario where data is stored in a data center of a service provider and the provider is responsible for management and maintenance of the data center and all related functions.  More and more companies are moving toward the public cloud or a mixture of private/public options.  Some companies feel security may be lacking with the public cloud, however, breaches are rare and your data typically remains separate from others.

Smaller companies may tend to choose a public cloud in their effort to reduce maintenance costs, infrastructure expenses, OPEX and CAPEX.  Larger companies may be inclined to choose a private cloud to maintain greater control and an enhanced sense of security… whether real or perceived.

220px-Dictionnaire_Infernal_-_BehemothWhen it comes to Private or Public Clouds, there is still a preverbal elephant in the room.  This elephant looms large in the psyche of companies of any size, whether large or small.   Cloud Network Outages are huge lumbering Mammoths that represent a catastrophic event no company wants to experience.  Amazon Web Services (AWS), is another behemoth which is the dominant market player in the space.  The AWS idea was conceived as early as 2000, and while the AWS concept began to take shape and was publicly discussed in 2003, and the first customer facing launch took place in 2005. Those individuals religiously devoted to the Public Cloud often place AWS on a very tall pedestal and AWS enjoys an exalted position of respect and dominance in the public cloud arena, but not all is Roses and Tulips in the Kingdom of Cloud.  AWS continues to prick its fingers on the thorns of Network Outages.

The most recent AWS Network Outage occurred in the Northern Virginia region on the morning of February 28th, 2017, as the S3 Team was debugging an issue causing the S3 billing system to progress more slowly than expected.   An employee error took down a large swath of Amazon services for nearly 4 hours.  Another AWS Network Outage took place in Sydney, Australia in June 2016 as massive thunder storms caused AWS EC2 and EBS services to fail and a significant number of prime websites and other online presence were down for 10 hours over a weekend. Since AWS’s inception there have been 7 notable Network Outages.

What conclusions can be drawn about the Public Cloud from events like these?  Some might say that regardless of the problems that exist, there are few inventions that positively influence our lives so profoundly on a daily basis.  Others might say that events like these point to dangerous flaws in the systems that impact our lives and there is much to be concerned about.

Regardless of your perspective of all things Cloud and Internet, one thing is certain, both are here to stay and what the future holds may be significantly different than how it is imagined today.


All Howl-ows…Tide?

 

IMG_0438 copy 2Every October, a large segment of our population is simply enthralled with having the living spook scared out of them and with Halloween rapidly approaching, we thought it would be ghoulishly appropriate to share some frightening fun facts about our fascination with All Hallows’ Eve.

Halloween is believed to have originated in Ireland with the ancient Celtic Festival known as Samhain (pronounced säwėn), which is celebrated on November 1st. However, the night before Samhain, (October 31) the Celtic people believed that the dead returned as Ghosts to roam the countryside. Villagers left food and wine on their doorsteps to keep the Ghosts at bay, and when the villagers left their homes, they wore masks so the dead would mistake them for fellow Ghosts.

In the 8th Century, the Christian Church turned Samhain into All Saints Day. October 31, or All Saints Eve had evolved into Halloween or Hallowe’en, also known as Allhalloween or All Hollows’ Eve. Observances encompass All Saints’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day (All Hallows) and All Souls’ Day which last from October 31 to November 2 annually. Each of these observances stem from Allhallowtide, which is a time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints and all faithful departed Christians.

In Medieval Britain, the tradition of “Souling” began on All Souls Day (November 2nd) in which the needy would beg for pastry know as soul cakes and in return they would pray for people’s dead relatives. As time passed, the practice of “Souling” evolved into “Guising” where young people would dress up in costume and accept food, wine, money, and other offerings in exchange for singing, reciting poetry or telling stories or jokes. In the 19th Century, Irish immigrants instituted the tradition of dressing up in costume in America. In the 1950’s the tradition of Trick or Treating went mainstream with a whole new generation.

According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween is the second highest grossing holiday after Christmas and Nielson Research reports that nearly 600-million pounds of candy is purchased each Halloween. Halloween spending also extends to costume purchases of nearly $2.6 billion… adult costume purchases rack up to nearly $1.22 billion, kids costumes $1.04 billion, and millions are spent each year on pet costumes. Let’s not forget all the life-size skeletons, blow-up monsters, fake cob webs, mantle pieces and other scary decorations, which average around $1.96 billion annually. We spend approximately $360 million on Halloween related greeting cards and there is an annual spike in alcohol purchases in the days preceding Halloween.

Want to have a little spooky fun? Try these Halloween related activities:

  • Halloween Name Generators:

http://en.vonvon.me/quiz/3684?utm_viral=2

https://fun.namerobot.com/name/halloween

http://witch.namegeneratorfun.com/

  • Not Too Scary Stories for Kids:

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1016713/scary-halloween-stories-for-kids

  • Best Horror Movies of 2017

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a56573/best-horror-movies-2017/

  • Best Horror Podcasts

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/best-scary-podcasts-horror

  • Pinterest Best Halloween Pranks

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/halloween-pranks/?lp=true


No Easy Button For Disaster Recovery: CU Edition

We know that people would rather not think about bad things happening, much less the gazillion details required to ensure that credit unions stay open for business during a crisis, but sadly… it is a matter of when, not if.

At IMS, our corporate motto is “We Know Credit Unions” and when it comes to disaster recovery (DR), most CU’s place data protection high on their priority list.  However, nineteen years as a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for financial institutions of all shapes and sizes, has taught us that while CU’s place a high value on DR, making headway toward reliable disaster recovery initiatives often ends up on the back burner.

Another commonality among CU’s is that many operate with lean IT staffing.  When you consider all the projects and day-to-day maintenance involved in keeping a credit union running smoothly, it’s no mystery that disaster recovery tends to slide to the bottom of the priority list.

Statistically, it is not the massive natural disaster that poses the greatest risk to credit unions, it is simple human error or hardware failure that can cause daily operations to come to a screeching  halt.

Human error is the single most frequent cause of business and IT disruptions, with the most significant economic impact.  –  Ponemon Institute – Cost of Data Center Outages, Jan 2016

Credit unions are wholly unique in the fact that many are smaller institutions with limited resources to allocate to IT related demands, and yet, they deploy systems that are more diverse and complicated than those of a typical business.  The addition of the mandatory compliance requirements of financial institutions and the fact that all are prime targets of cyber criminals, creates additional burdens for IT staff.  These unique factors cause a significant gap between what is required to properly maintain and secure the IT environment and the resources available to do the job effectively.

The reality for many CU’s is they may not have the resources available to provide the protections required to ensure that the business remains fully operational when disruptions occur.  Situations where IT staffing is stretched to capacity, merely increases the likelihood of human error, thereby increasing the odds of data disruptions they work so diligently to avoid.

Another unique factor is the use of a “Core” system that requires IT staff to have extensive knowledge specific to that core. For many institutions, this may mean that there is only one individual on a team who possesses the skills set needed to fully manage and maintain the core. Since a single source of knowledge represents the proverbial weak-link scenario, situations of this nature often complicate IT disruptions.

Research indicates that many assumed cost savings of DIY backup and recovery components tend to evaporate and, when it comes to protecting critical IT data, there is genuine value in considering Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). For credit unions, the temptation to cut corners on backup and DR tends to be greatest in areas where scrimping on expenditures puts the institution at even greater risk of IT disruptions or outright failures.

The DRaaS market size is estimated to grow from USD 1.68 Billion in 2016 to USD 11.11 Billion by 2021, at an estimated CAGR of 45.9% from 2016 to 2021.

The key forces driving the DRaaS market are its features of faster recovery, cost-effectiveness, enhanced flexibility, and simple testing.  Also, DR services provide automation capabilities that lead to limited utilization of resources and low up-front cost. With the increase in the adoption rate of DR services among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), DRaaS market is expected to gain major traction during the forecast period. 

– Markets and Markets – Disaster Recovery as a Service Markets – 2016

Next time you’re tempted to reach for the Easy Button, remember that disaster recovery is a complex and multi-faceted endeavor that requires constant vigilance and attention to detail.   It also requires an IT staff that is proficient and up-to-date on all vital aspects of the Backup and Recovery domain.

IMS is a unique MSP in the DRaaS arena and is widely recognized for their intimate knowledge of credit union core systems, operations and extensive experience providing managed services in virtualization, networking, security and IaaS.