Wells glitch shows all banks should re-examine card and ATM processes

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Wells Fargo earlier this year suffered an shutdown that halted card processing, ATMs and other financial services, and provided a continuity wake up call for the entire industry.

While the company reported it was working to restore services as soon as possible, banking systems took a full day to resume operations, and customers experienced issues until mid-February.

Financial institutions shouldn’t just develop a disaster recovery plan and stop there — they should take additional steps to make sure it’s as effective as possible. Here are a few measures to keep in mind.

Take advantage of the cloud. Disaster recovery plans require a fraction of the cost and less manual intervention when your infrastructure is based in the cloud. The good news is that financial services organizations are generally ahead of other industries in terms of cloud adoption. If your organization isn’t primarily relying on cloud infrastructure yet, considering the benefits of disaster recovery just provides additional incentive to do so.
Establish priorities within your disaster plan. When disaster occurs, you can’t put out every fire at once — you need to prioritize which to address first. Your priorities shouldn’t be determined in the moment either, but rather established ahead of time so that the plan can be rolled out in as orderly a fashion as possible. Identify three to four different categories of priority with your mission-critical servers coming at the top of the list. Those are the ones you are willing to allocate more attention and resources to in the event of a disaster.

Practice your plan. Institutions migrating to the cloud are most underprepared when it comes to putting their plan into action. Many have a backup plan determined, but in the event they’d need to deploy it, it could take days, weeks or months to carry it out. Your team should exercise the discipline to test the plan on a periodic basis so that everyone has firsthand knowledge of how to carry it out during a real emergency and while under pressure, not just in a drill scenario.

It’s easy to criticize Wells Fargo for its less-than-perfect response to a system disaster, but many banking and financial institutions wouldn’t have been in a much better place had it happened to them. By learning from the struggles that resulted from Wells Fargo’s outages, the rest of the financial world can improve its own disaster recovery plans.

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