What Should I Look For in My Data Disaster Recovery Center?

Reliance on technology in HIPAA compliant businesses makes a disaster recovery data center essential to ensure economic survival. Here’s what to look for.

For HIPAA-compliant businesses, the reliance on digital technology now makes a data disaster recovery center pretty much an essential requirement to keep processes going at all times and to ensure economic survival.

A natural disaster like an earthquake, flood or hurricane can strike at any point, damaging offices (i.e. your primary data site) and disrupting operations.

Disruptions of human origin, such as errors, cyberattacks and data breaches can also occur unexpectedly and render businesses vulnerable – to say nothing of unforeseen circumstances like those we are experiencing right now.

Have a Continuity Plan

(Image source: fema.gov)

The HIPAA breach notification rule can hit small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are usually hardest hit, as they lack the resources that larger enterprises have to bounce back after an extended outage. Even organizations that do survive after a calamity may suffer the effects of eroded consumer confidence and damage to their brand reputations by getting penalized for breaking HIPAA regulations.

A disaster recovery data center serves to protect valuable investments in information, software and business processes from unexpected emergencies. Together with comprehensive disaster management plans and strategies for data backup and recovery, storing backups of your business’ critical data in a highly secure data center enables you to minimize downtime and restore normal operations as quickly as possible when disaster strikes.

Key Requirements for Data Backup and Data Recovery

When creating a disaster recovery (DR) plan for your organization, one of the key requirements is moving data to a location where it can be secure, while giving your team easy access to monitor the information and the ability to rapidly restore essential data in line with your recovery time and recovery point objectives.

These are essentially a measure of an acceptable interval before your business gets back up and running and an acceptable state for your infrastructure and data once it does.

Your recovery site must therefore have HIPAA-compliant data backup software in place to enable the continuous transfer of essential files from your primary location and data protection measures to safeguard the integrity of the files and archives stored there.

Asset and Risk Assessment

To ensure your business is fully protected, it is essential to have a clear understanding of all the data assets you need to safeguard and the threats that these assets might face.

You should therefore make a comprehensive inventory of your assets and a thorough assessment of the potential risks. This should cover all the types of disasters that could hit your business, the solutions required to deal with each one and the resources you’ll need to recover from each of them.

It may be necessary to do some outside-the-box thinking to cover all eventualities that could occur – no matter how unlikely they might seem.

Formulating Disaster Plans and Management Strategies

In planning for potential disasters, you’ll need to assess the possible impacts on your business of each scenario – in terms of financial losses, disruptions to operations, reputational damage and regulatory compliance implications.

This will enable you to set priorities as to which areas will require more immediate data recovery attention than others. It will also help to set the framework for how long a period (minutes, hours, days, etc.) should be allocated to restoring critical and less critical applications, processes and data.

This, in turn, will assist you in studying and negotiating any contract terms and service level agreements (SLAs) with your disaster recovery data center host or service provider.

When formulating plans for an unexpected disaster, you can and should use HIPAA as part of the process, as it provides a structured format for planning and provides clear guidance on the issues you need to address to ensure compliance.

You should also review the plans with relevant stakeholders and departments, to make sure that any assumptions they contain are correct.


Hipaa compliance checklist

(Image source: techtarget.com)

Choosing A Data Center Facility or Data Disaster Recovery Service

For disaster recovery, you have the option of choosing an internal data center facility, which you own and manage yourself, or an external site offered by a colocation or cloud service provider. The infrastructure of a physical data center consists of a complex mix of servers, routers, switches, security devices, storage systems and other equipment.

To ensure the continuous performance of critical operations and to maintain high availability of data and applications, each of these components has to be securely protected and, if possible, backed up with duplicate or redundant systems in case the primary system fails.

While having your own data center can ensure quick access to information and the speedy resumption of business in case of disaster, smaller scale enterprises may not have the resources or expertise necessary to construct and maintain their own physical facility.

In such cases, external disaster recovery data centers are the much more sensible and cost-effective option. Here, all the necessary infrastructure is provided and maintained by the service provider, who will ensure that all of your data is backed up and fully recoverable in the event of a disaster.

It‘s important to choose the right service provider, however. For starters, you need to know that your chosen colocation provider has experience working with a business like yours, in terms of size, operations, industry and challenges.

You must exercise due diligence to establish its ratings for uptime and its track record for compliance and industry standards.

For HIPAA-compliant businesses, the HIPAA security rule means utilizing the disaster recovery data center services of a HIPAA compliance specialist.

You’ll need to do your homework, for not every cloud storage provider is HIPAA-compliant.

The legislation doesn’t just cover healthcare organizations and healthcare data businesses. It also covers any “business associates” you work with who have access to the PHI of your patients and clients.  Which includes individually identifiable health information such as health records, healthcare data, patient health data, personal health information, health care providers, secure protected health information and currently unsecured protected health information all included with health insurance portability.

Health information technology storage providers fall into this category, as they indeed handle and have access to your patient’s data and are responsible for protecting it in line with HIPAA compliance requirements with the latest health and human services requirements secured with electronic protected health information.

An Ongoing Strategy for Data Protection with Central Data Storage

Before disaster strikes, it’s a wise idea to conduct occasional drills, to test the effectiveness and relevance of your disaster recovery mechanisms. Doing so can help expose weaknesses in your plan and suggest remedies for helping to improve it.

Circumstances change and even the best disaster recovery plans can become unworkable or obsolete in the light of new developments. For this reason, it’s essential to make periodic reviews of your disaster management strategy.

With a secure disaster recovery data center provided via a partnership with a vendor capable of accommodating all your recovery needs, you can protect your organization from unforeseen events and the threat of system downtime, allowing you to give more of your attention to managing and growing your business.

Central Data Storage is the provider you’ve been looking for. Our robust and highly secure data center and all the products it supports are HIPAA-compliant by design and have been purposefully built to help you meet all requirements mandated in the legislation.

Our 449-bit end-to-end encryption exceeds military-grade standards, ensuring your data remains fully protected from all outside security threats both in transit and at rest in our data center.

As disasters can strike at any time, our solution also automates your backups, which can run every 15 minutes, every hour, or however frequently you need them to so you remain compliant and ensure business continuity no matter what happens. And with unlimited storage capacity, dual authentication and ransomware recovery, our solution ensures your data is always safe, protected and recoverable in the event of any catastrophe.

Want to learn more about the benefits of utilizing our fully-supported disaster recovery data center and services? Just call 1-888-907-1227, or email info@centraldatastorage.com.

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