Hurricane Irene: Checklist for protecting your technology

What to do before and during your hurricane

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Hurricane forecasting is becoming less of a black art, but for the large populations of us living in the Gulf or East Coast (you may get it one day, California and Left Coasters and Islanders). If you don't have an official list of what to do for your technology life, here are some of my suggestions - taken at your own risk, of course.

1. Time to do backups
This means all of your servers, all of your clients, all of your mobile devices. Back them up to the web, but in any case, ship the backup media to dry ground, and label everything. Your ability to restart may depend on replacement hardware and the ability to rapidly restore.

2. Document the layout
You've changed everything since you last did this. Get all of the network addresses, the router and firewall configurations. Get all of the CA certificates and back them up 2x, then ship the media to your office in Nebraska. Now.

3. Update call lists and contact info
All key personnel need to register their updated cell numbers, Twitter IDs, home email addresses, physical addresses, automobile license tag #s, and so forth. Put these copies into an encrypted PDF and distribute it without the password; release the password through some pre-shared agreement. See your legal department for advice on the privacy nature of the entries in the list.

4. Tame your vendors
Steps #1 through 3 must be performed by your key vendors. Supply chain, contractors, everyone needs to be on the updated list as required and subject to organizational policies where they apply.

5. Test your hot site
Do this now, before you need it. Check to see that equipment is available, routes to the hotsite are established, key personnel know the drill, fail-over equipment is running, hot, and ready to fire if primary sites go down or away.

6. Leave before you need to
Don't get stuck in traffic, in airports, train stations, and in queues. Give yourself ample time. Buy lots of bottled water and granola bars, emergency kits, spare charged batteries, flashlights, and so forth. Do the Boy Scout thing and be prepared but carry it lightly.

7. Move out means move back
If you go offsite to a hot site, you'll need to eventually come back and restart a data center or NOC, etc. Know the procedure, drill, key personnel, who makes the decision to rollback based on what policies and values, and have this information distributed to all of the key personnel. Make a roster, and have someone in charge of the roster to understand key personnel and alternate key personnel availability. Keep maps of where personnel are located digitally, so that when routes are re-opened, you can guess time to availability given traffic constraints.

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