BY DENNY FISHER, Chief strategist, ACS

The potential for your network system to fail continues to increase as our world becomes more interconnected.

A service interruption could trigger enormous costs and go far beyond technology remediation. That’s why you need to have a Business Continuity Plan and include your Internet of Things (IoT) devices as part of that plan as well as your incident response plan. IoT devices are as vital to an organization as its employees and services, and should receive the same amount of attention to ensure they are protected and monitored.

Today, almost every device from cellphones to assembly line equipment is connected to the Internet and produces data, some of which is vital to a business’s operations. This is especially important in the areas of manufacturing, health care and transportation, where this data ensures the safety, health and lives of the public. Some of this data is one-time information and cannot be reproduced, so a method in which to recover it is vital.

For example, if a piece of equipment on a manufacturing line that monitors how many pieces of candy go into a bag loses its network connection, the bags could be overfilled or underfilled, and the business wouldn’t know. This could cause a downward spiral effect: If the bags are overfilled, the business loses money; if they are underfilled, customer satisfaction could go down and result in more losses.

Businesses need to conduct a business impact analysis to consider how valuable the data is for each of their IoT devices based on what information they gather from them and how that information drives revenues or produces cost savings. This analysis also will evaluate each part of the business that is affected by IoT devices and determine the business’s ability to function without the device. The more valuable the information is, the more necessary it becomes to devise a plan to recover the device’s data in the event of a device, network, or system failure. This information will become part of the organization’s Business Continuity Plan.

Organizations will then have to prioritize their devices based on potential risk tolerance and determine a budget for protecting their assets and devices.

Once in place, a Business Continuity Plan should be tested annually or anytime new devices are added to it. If a transportation company, for example, adds a new region or creates new routes, it would want to incorporate those trucks (likely an IoT device) into its plan to ensure the trucks are running efficiently, receiving the most miles per gallon and driving the most appropriate routes for cost savings and/or profit.

The most effective way to ensure a business has all areas covered is to have a third-party technology provider conduct a risk assessment and business impact study to determine how the business could be affected. Get a quick idea of what an outage could cost you with this Downtime Calculator.

Next month:

We’ll take a collective look at what the Internet of Things and cybersecurity mean for business owners and organizations, as well as preparations they can take now for the coming year to ensure they’re safeguarded and ready for any situation that threatens their business or equipment and could cause a loss of profit or damage their reputation.


denny-fisher_crop Denny Fisher, Chief Strategist
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