Chicagoland Businesses Ignore Warnings, Fail to Prepare Business Continuity Plans for Disasters
CHICAGO, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Despite the rise in computer virus attacks and the continuing prospect of potential terrorist attacks, many Chicagoland businesses continue to be without an updated business continuity plan, according to a new report released today by the Partnership for Public Warning and AT&T.
The study found that, while there is a growing consensus that business continuity plans should be a priority, nearly 30 percent of the businesses surveyed have failed to implement business continuity plans. Those surveyed without a plan cite competing business priorities, belief that there is a low probability for a disaster and insufficient corporate systems as the reasons they have not put such a plan in place.
The study also found that while 67 percent of companies surveyed monitor public alerting systems for warnings about terrorist threats or any other potential disasters, only 13 percent implement specific protective actions when the federal government raises the terror alert.
"These numbers are disappointing," said Jerry Gerami, regional vice president, AT&T Business. "The goal of any effective business continuity plan is to avoid downtime. Customers are put at-risk every hour a business is down. Any disruption can cripple a company, sometimes causing irreparable harm to the future of the business." According to Gerami, an effective continuity plan should specify redundant systems, back-up sites and alternative work sites. They must also include a process for maintaining customer and employee communications immediately after the disaster and until things are back to normal.
The report, "Disaster Planning in the Private Sector: A Post 9/11 Look at the State of Business Continuity in the US," surveyed 100 executives from the Chicago area with responsibility for their organization's business continuity planning.
According to findings, 15 percent of those businesses surveyed acknowledged having suffered from a disaster that caused a business interruption. The most reported factors causing the business interruptions included extreme weather, fires, floods and cyber attacks. These incidents, especially the recent rise in cyber attacks, demonstrate the vulnerabilities local businesses have to incidents much less threatening than a major terrorist attack.
"There have been more cyber attacks launched across the Internet in the last 18 months than during the previous 10 years," said David Cottingham, managed security services manager, AT&T Business. "Threats can be physical, logical, economic, political or social. A good business continuity plan considers all of these risks and evaluates the most effective course of action. The latest trend is to move to a network-based system that predicts when attacks will occur so corrective action can be taken before any disruption or financial impact occurs."
While more than 10 percent of disaster-affected companies were attacked by a computer virus or cyber attack, nearly 30 percent of all companies surveyed have yet to establish firewalls, intrusion detection, hacker protection and/or password authentication.
Ken Allen, executive director of Partnership for Public Warning, warned that all companies -- regardless of their size -- must develop, implement and regularly test business continuity plans to ensure continual business operations. "Businesses need to have a planning process and a frequently tested plan," Allen advised. "An effective plan will not only identify critical business components and potential risks but will look beyond the walls of the business and consider the impact on suppliers and partners as well," he added.
Allen also noted that many companies are beginning to implement the necessary measures to weather any interruption, but too many are not going far enough. "Even with those who do have plans, a significant number have not tested them in over a year. A plan is only as good as its tests," he said, noting that more than 20 percent haven't updated their plan in over a year and more than 20 percent haven't tested it over a year.
While some companies are taking business continuity very seriously, too many are not, warns Gerami. "The best piece of advice is for companies to start thinking the unthinkable -- and plan accordingly."
For more than 125 years, AT&T (NYSE "T") has been known for unparalleled quality and reliability in communications. Backed by the research and development capabilities of AT&T Labs, the company is a global leader in local, long distance, Internet and transaction-based voice and data services.
About The Partnership For Public Warning
The Partnership for Public Warning is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership established to save the lives and property of people at risk from natural disasters, accidents and terrorism by improving the nation's alert and warning capabilities. By providing an objective, consensus-based forum where all interested stakeholders -- public and private -- are working together to develop processes, standards, systems and strategies right people are ensured to have the right information at the right time.
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