6 Ways Security Teams Can Optimize Operational Continuity

Your company depends on you to keep it safe and secure. But as every security team knows, alarm monitoring is an extremely complex responsibility, even within the smallest companies. Start adding multiple buildings and facilities, hundreds of computer systems, and thousands of signals from a variety of sensors and devices to the mix, and the complexities–and potential threats–grow exponentially.

Given all this complexity, if you don’t take steps to optimize for operational continuity, you may open yourself to significant risks. And no company, no matter its size, is completely immune: remember Delta’s hours-long data center standstill or the now infamous Equifax data breach? Unexpected downtime, outages, natural disasters, equipment failures, physical breaches, and more can all jeopardize operational continuity. 

Consider the following risks.

  • Physical security breaches, including unauthorized access to your physical buildings, laboratories, and facilities. This type of threat could lead to everything from physical harm to your employees and customers, to the theft or destruction of sensitive data. Even the smallest gap in your security operations–from a broken fence to a malfunctioning camera–can be an opportunity for adversaries to exploit your weaknesses.
  • Cyber attacks where malicious actors burrow into your networks, potentially stealing precious data, wreaking havoc on your services, draining your finances, and tanking your reputation. Equifax discovered just how damaging such attacks could be when it failed to adequately protect the data on its systems and a subsequent breach exposed the sensitive data of 147 million people. This led to significant legal and financial repercussions for the company, not the least of which was a $575 million settlement. 

Given these conditions, your mission is to defend against interruptions and disruptions to your organization’s security on all fronts–from cyber attacks to severe weather. If your operational continuity plans are strong, you can ensure that a worrisome potential threat never morphs into a worst-case scenario.

Here’s how to minimize disruptions and optimize your operational continuity:

#1. Insist on redundancy

Ensure that you have duplicate hardware, software, and data center coverage in case of failure at any point in the system. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, depends on redundant data centers across a variety of geographic regions to ensure ongoing service availability in the face of potential outages. You might also opt for cloud-based services to help you stay flexible and resilient in the face of local outages.

a screen with code on it

#2. Conduct regular maintenance, inspections, and backups

Set up a regular schedule to inspect and maintain your physical equipment as well as evaluate your digital preparedness. Are all systems updated and is all software patched? Are all of your security cameras in good working order? Is there an adequate power supply for all devices (and backup power like generators in case of outage)? Do batteries on any devices need to be changed? Does anything need to be cleaned to ensure optimal functioning? Do your current IoT-connected devices leave you open to threats?

It can be extremely difficult to keep track of every single thing that needs doing over the course of a year, so commit to a written checklist or regular maintenance and inspection schedule, and stick to it. You may also consider developing maintenance guides and specialized training for technicians responsible for repairing critical equipment in the event of disruption.

Finally, you should be conducting regular backups of critical data and systems to fend off potential data loss and corruption. The goal is to ensure your data is safe–and accessible–even if there’s a server failure.

#3. Develop strong contingency plans

Invest time in mapping out exactly how you would respond to an incident like a security breach, natural disaster, or other disruption. Having a detailed incident response or contingency plan in place can help you quickly address and recover from a cyber attack, for example, and minimize its impact. Your plan can be as simple or as complex as needed, and it can evolve over time. 

That brings us to an important point: no matter how good your plans are, they will need constant updates and revisions to stay current in a dynamic security landscape. A contingency plan that was perfect 10 years ago will most likely be outdated now. 

Not sure where to start? Begin with the most likely threat scenarios first, and add contingency plans for rarer events as you go. If you need a good jumping-off point, we recommend exploring the NIST framework for contingency planning.

Man Planning Cloud Strategy

#4. Put time into employee training and preparedness

No matter how good your systems are, they will always be vulnerable to human error, interference, or ignorance. That’s why it’s so important to invest in continual employee training on security best practices and protocols. Look beyond the security operations team and make sure that everyone in the organization is well-trained and supported.

Raising awareness among your own employees can significantly lower your risk from multiple threats. You may also consider cross-training employees so they can fill in and perform critical functions in the event of disruptions or staff shortages.

#5. Collaborate, coordinate, and communicate

Even as a seasoned security professional, it’s true that sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. Often, the critical information you need for a complete picture of your security posture is buried deep behind departmental silos. That’s why it is essential to communicate across your organization, coordinating with different departments to facilitate rapid response and decision-making during critical moments, like in the event of a cyberattack or other service disruption. 

#6. Invest in continuous alarm monitoring

No matter how complex your operations are, you should still be able to seamlessly monitor, detect, and respond to emerging threats in real-time. This becomes almost effortless with the right technologies and systems in place. Bold Group’s Manitou Alarm Monitoring Software, for example, can act as a centralized hub for all of your security operations, monitoring and assimilating signals from all of your intrusion detection sensors, motion detectors, fire alarms, video surveillance cameras, and more. 

Ensuring continuous, 24/7 monitoring of multiple devices and sensors across your organization  means that you never have to worry about blind spots or missing crucial events that would  jeopardize business continuity.

Putting it All Together

We hope that this has been a helpful primer on keeping your business secure and ensuring continuity so that it can continue to operate smoothly. 

That said, remember that security is not so much a fixed destination as it is a moving goal. No matter which measures you put in place today, you will need to be ready and willing  to update, refresh, and even abandon them, if appropriate, tomorrow. The key is to be flexible in the face of inevitable changes and a constantly-evolving security landscape. 

It can be daunting at times, but you never have to do it alone. At Bold Group, we help security professionals maintain operational security and stay on top of the latest threats with our world-class alarm monitoring software, Manitou. We invite you to reach out today to see how we can help you achieve your security goals.