Tag Archives: Natural Disaster

Do Solar Storms Cause Data Disasters?

There have been scientific predictions on the geomagnetic storms for a while now. Scientists have estimated various unpleasant impacts of the solar storms to be about $2 trillion. The damages caused by electricity charged gas travelling at 5 million miles per hour is anticipated to disrupt both the communication technology infrastructure, as well as, communication networks for many years to come.

 

A renowned Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics expert, Daniel N. Baker, PhD from University of Colorado, commented, “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did. If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, the earth would have been in the line of fire.” This is particularly worrying as the sun has been in its dormant state for more than a century. The comment, made by Dr. Baker to the press, noted that solar flares that took place for a few years in this decade have disrupted ground communication.

 

According to Wikipedia, solar storms are classified as A, B, C, M or X. Class A being the lowest and class X being the highest (as in Richer scale for earthquakes).  Each letter has its own scale. For instance, X1 is less powerful than X9.

 

The earth has experienced class X sun storm several times. Class X sun flare is so powerful that it did radiate billions of electrically charged particles to the earth. Such discharge is known as Coronal Mass Ejections that light up geomagnetic storms in the magnetic field of the earth. Dr. Baker went on to state that “while technology we use every day will be susceptible to the impact of space weather conditions, it will help us evaluate the robustness of the systems we have built”.

 

Is there any relation between data backup / data storage and solar storms? The vigorous particles that are discharged from the solar storm and the sun will certainly interact with the surrounding magnetic field of the earth. This will help increase the ionisation in the ionosphere for 100 km to 1,000 km above the earth. The discharged flares could cause equipment damages and increase the chance of strong electric current in long conductors, including power lines and the pipelines, which could eventually result in system outages. As a result, technological systems could fail and data could be lost; and colossal amount of data could be at risk, including cloud backed up data. This is a new kind of risk that we have not encountered so far (unlike Tornadoes, Floods, Earthquakes) and the risk level can not be determined at the moment, as it has not happened yet, and unfortunately, the impact can only be known after the sun storm actually hits the earth.

 

Given such circumstances, companies around the world have been paying extra attention regarding their digital data and disaster recovery. Cloud backup and disaster recovery service providers around the globe are working harder than ever before to secure and protect organization’s data redundantly at multiple levels to make sure that data is recovered in an event a disaster strikes and there is a massive data deletion of the entire system. Therefore, it is the most intelligent and adaptable company that will be able to survive a disaster. In addition, it is more beneficial to be safe than to be sorry.

 

If you have not prepared for disaster — whether for sun flare related disasters or otherwise — you need to start right now.

Challenges to Business Continuity in 2013

A recent survey published by Continuity Centralasked businesses how they thought business continuity would fare in 2013.Respondentscame from companies in the UK, the USA, Australia, the Middle East and India, giving a fairly good representation of the global picture for business continuity. The survey asked questions relating to the changes, challenges and spending on business continuity measures in 2013, and how these matters would affect roll-out of business continuity packages during the year.

Those who replied considered the amount of funds available to be spent on business continuity measures to be the biggest challenge to the development of this sector of business IT. This is understandable as most developed countries are still striving to keep their economies in growth and many businesses are unable to increase their employees wages in keeping with inflation. A reflection of this is the tightening of many company’s IT budgets which causes IT managers and directors to make a decision between spreading their budget thinly across many services, or focusing on certain services deemed more important than others.

Stretching a budget so that it covers all bases can force businesses to opt for providers that are perhaps not as well suited to the company’s needs, but come within their budget. On the other hand, the company’s directors may decide that getting the best solution for their requirements at the forfeit of other services deemed not as important can leave them unprepared in other ways. It’s a difficult situation that many businesses are facing in uncertain financial times.

The decision of where to spend an IT budget is at the discretion of the company. Do they consider the risk great enough that provisions for business continuity are necessary? Many bigger enterprises, who have the luxury of a large budget alongside a complex IT network, do invest in business continuity packages because they see any potential downtime caused by a natural disaster or IT failure as too great a risk to take. However, smaller businesses who don’t have the money to spend on a service they may never have to call upon often don’t see the need or simply don’t have the funding.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and manycompanies along the USA’s eastern seaboard are now seeing how costly a natural disaster can be after last autumn’s Hurricane Sandy. Hundreds of businesses were affected by outages to power which had many knock-on effects for other businesses and the general population. For example, the American edition of internet newspaper The Huffington Postwas temporarily unavailable as the company that hosts its website, Datagram, lost power to their data centre. There were bigger victims still of Hurricane Sandy, with the New York Stock Exchange offices among those who also were left exposed by inadequate business continuity preparations.

Now that the evidence is there for everyone to see, businesses that before Hurricane Sandy did not consider business continuity plans necessary may now be rethinking their IT strategy in the year ahead, the important question is how much will companies be willing to spend in order to protect their business from disaster. How great is the risk?

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