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Testing or Developing Disaster Recovery?
Thursday, September 7, 2017 6:40 AM

Idrees Rafiq, Jr., AVP IT Consulting, Credit Union Resources

With the hurricane season in full force and so many of our credit unions, employees, and members in the paths, I looked to what I could do to help, outside of monetary donations. During the news coverage, I was thinking of all the credit unions I visited in the Gulf Coast and those I have yet to visit and wondered, Who is “testing” their disaster recovery plan, and who is just now “developing” their plan?

These disasters remind us how collaboration is an important aspect of our industry’s success. The following is a post to the Cornerstone Technology Council from Keith Leach of Brazos Valley Schools Credit Union demonstrating this collaboration at its finest.

"Texas hasn’t had a major hurricane in a number of years, so your IT's DR strategy might be a bit rusty," Leach said. "With storms brewing in the Gulf, I thought I would send out a top 10 (11) list of how to gear up for a potential disaster."

Here's Keith's Top 10 (11) List:

1.    Backups: Make full backups and put them somewhere safe. A good idea would be to have multiple backups and put them in the vaults at different branches. Remind staff to save anything important to a system that is backed up.

2.    Manuals: Make sure that you have how-to instructions that anyone can follow for restoring backup data. If all of IT is stranded, it may be someone else restoring data and they will need to have simple instructions.

3.    Communication: Make sure you have a contact list for all your key vendors and personnel with your account numbers, circuit ID numbers, passphrases, etc. Also, set up an emergency hotline number where you can leave instructions for staff, which will alert them to come into work or head to another branch, etc.

4.    Logins: Print out anything that you may not be able to access later, such as login information, passwords, URLs, etc.

5.    Remote Connection: If you can remote into your network, make sure to test it if you have not tried in a while. If other staff have remote access, make sure they remember how to do it and test from home. Credentials change over time, and you want to make sure everything is working before you have to try it out for real.

6.    Physical: Flooding is the most likely scenario we will face during a hurricane. It may be something to consider having users move their computers on top of their desks. If your server room is in a building prone to roof leaks, you may want to consider draping a tarp over equipment, but be careful not to cause devices to overheat. If your buildings are on access control, as in RFID card readers, determine if the doors will automatically unlock if the backup batteries drain. If so, you may want to have an alternative method for securing doors.

7.    Systems: Turn off services and equipment that are not critical to run during the event. This will help save equipment from damage if it does get wet and will reduce the heat of the room if air conditioning fails.

8.    Generators: You may think purchasing a generator from Lowes and connecting your servers to it would be a good idea to keep your server room running, but it is not. Such gasoline generators produce "dirty" power, meaning it fluctuates in voltage to a level unacceptable to sensitive circuitry, such as a computer or printer, and may damage it. The best generator is a diesel or natural gas generator that is professionally installed to your building circuit. 

9.    UPS: Uninterruptible power supplies are battery backup devices you can plug your servers into that will keep them up and running if there is a short power outage. Depending on the size of the UPS and the amount you are attaching to it, your equipment could stay up for some time and will allow you to power down equipment safely if it appears power will not be returning.

10.    Equipment: Store spare equipment such as servers, routers, switches, computers, and peripherals at a DR location. If you do not have a branch that is some distance from the coast, there are colocation facilities designed to withstand hurricanes and other disasters that will allow you to store equipment for a rental fee.

11.    Plan: Have a plan in place for your staff, and make sure they know what to do in different situations, who to call for what, which services to monitor, safe practices, etc. Test your plan regularly.

That's some valuable information. Thanks, Keith! I encourage all those who need help developing a plan or simply want to see if their plans are sufficient, to collaborate with those who are willing to help.

I also encourage you to participate in the Cornerstone Technology Council. If you feel a little too shy to post to the forum, please feel free to send me your questions or comments directly to irafiq@curesources.coop.

If you're not yet a member of the Technology Council, the value of membership is too great to pass up. To join, visit the website here.
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Assess Your Systems and Manage Your Risk
As technology changes, every credit union faces new security issues. Let Credit Union Resources help you stay on top of it—your future could depend on it. Our team of technology professionals provides guidance on compliance, shares best practices, and performs audits. We have a vested interest in your success, and your cybersecurity matters to us. To find out how we can help you manage cybersecurity and operational risks, contact:

Idrees Rafiq
469-385-6799
800-442-5762, ext. 6799
irafiq@curesources.coop

Deanna Brown
469-385-6464
800-442-5762, ext. 6464
dbrown@curesources.coop

About Credit Union Resources Inc.
Credit Union Resources is a service corporation that provides industry-leading solutions and expertise to credit unions across the country. Credit Union Resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, a regional trade association representing the interests of credit unions in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.