Tag Archives: London

Importance of business continuity emphasised with snow fall

As November moved into December, the UK became wrapped in a blanket of road-clogging snow, starting in Scotland and the north of England, before moving south and eventually affecting travel in London and the South East.

The estimated cost to the economy varies depending on which source you choose to believe, but predictions of between 250 million and 1.2 billion a day have been made public by different analysts.

The good news is that many firms have learned their lessons from the cold weather conditions which crippled the UK’s transport links earlier in 2010 and, as such, have taken the proper precautions to ensure business continuity, even when employees cannot make their way into work.

Remote working has become increasingly popular as a failsafe for such eventualities, with many choosing to stay at home and get work done, rather than risk getting stuck in the snow and ice on their commute.

Working from home using remote access also means that many thousands of people are able to cope with the widespread closure of schools, which has left children in need of all-day care. Of course some parents have simply been forced to take these days as holiday, which is hardly ideal, but a necessity when educational institutions cannot open.

Businesses which do lose out as a result of the climate need not take too much woe from the staggering predictions for daily costs, because experts believe that employees are likely to make up for lost time by staying later and working harder, once the weather has cleared up and they are able to return to their desks.

This is precisely what has happened in previous years, so even if productivity lags and continuity is compromised now, the future is the time for catching up and making amends.

If winters are set to get colder and snow is a more frequent visitor to the UK, it is likely that business continuity planning and disaster recovery will gain new importance within businesses around the country.

Experts warn tube strikes increase risk of data loss

Monday’s tube strike left many people struggling to get to work in the capital and many more chose to stay at home and work online, to reduce hassle and improve productivity. However, some experts are claiming that this has opened the floodgates for potential data loss, as employees use portable storage to transfer the sensitive information required to work at home from their offices.

AEP Network’s Mark Darvill, said that with portable storage devices being used by many London commuters, the strike theoretically lead to a spike in the number of bags, coats and pockets that would contain such gadgets, increasing the probability of data loss occurring as a result.

Mr Darvill explained that organisations involved in finance and government had been reluctant to allow staff to transfer confidential data to their homes, because of several high profile data loss incidents and the likelihood of a scandal occurring as a result of theft or careless handling of the devices.

Experts like Mr Darvill believe that if businesses really want to retain productivity levels when hindrances such as the strike make it impossible for employees to get to work, then a greater emphasis on security is required wherever private data is being taken off-site.

It should be possible to allow workers to use their own technology to work from home, provided that it is approved by the IT department and authenticated each time that access is granted, to ensure that data is used for legitimate purposes, according to Mr Darvill.

While data leaking from an employee’s personal device is a risk, it is also recognised that malicious software can permeate a corporate system, if various unchecked devices are connecting remotely. So the security must work in both directions and at all points to be effective.

This double-edge security approach is seen as being the best way to enable safe home working conditions and, implicit in this suggestion, is the idea that portable storage which will be taken on public transport and runs the risk of being lost, is really a last resort that should be discouraged.

Survey shows that businesses do not appreciate data loss penalties

A report into the way in which businesses calculate the financial damage that will be caused by serious data loss or theft has found that most are inaccurately predicting the ultimate cost of serious security breaches.

Around 42 per cent of employees working in the City of London said that they thought the fines applicable in the event of an average data loss scandal would amount to under ten thousand pounds.

The study was authored by BlockMaster to coincide with the introduction of new Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) powers which will see the ICO out fines of up to half a million pounds. The new powers came into effect at the beginning of the month.

18 per cent of respondents went on to reveal that they had personally lost a portable storage device for which they were responsible at some point in between 2007 and 2010.

61 per cent said that losing devices such as mobile phones or laptops was only of concern because replacing them could prove to be expensive. This is said to show that the data contained within the devices is held in scant regard by those who use them, perhaps leading to the complacent treatment and resultant loss of many thousands of devices over the years.

BlockMaster’s Anders Pettersson said that he was not surprised by the results of the study, particularly in relation to the fact that most people were still unfamiliar with the new ICO powers to impose far higher fines than before.

Mr Pettersson said that the most alarming fact revealed by the survey was that the only incentive for employees to protect portable storage devices came from the perceived cost of replacing the device itself, and not because of the fines and reputational damage that could be caused if the contained data proved to be sensitive.

Many data protection experts are calling for businesses to make employees aware that the data to which they have access is inherently valuable to the organisation as a whole, and should be treated with respect.

Experts say business continuity measures are improving

The Business Continuity Institute (BCI) has revealed that it now believes that more and more businesses are finally instigating proper business continuity planning procedures in order to prevent worst case scenarios from having a serious impact on their ability to operate.

A recent survey from the BCI found that 77 per cent of firms can identify and respond to disasters far more quickly than in the past and in each case this is because there is a proper plan of action prepared in advance.

The BCI ran a significant awareness campaign at the end of last month, in an attempt to spread the business continuity message across the entire business community, hoping to improve the general health of firms after they have suffered unforeseen occurrences.

The study found that less than half of businesses were unable to continue normal operation after a period of disruption and that this was largely attributable to well laid out business continuity plans.

UK continuity expert Keith Tilley said that the relationships between a business and its clients were at risk if disruption followed a natural disaster, strike or other hazard.

A total of 221 respondents said that their firms had implemented business continuity plans and 55 per cent said that as a result they had been able to make significant savings or protect their revenues.

The BCI’s Lyndon Bird said that the week-long event to raise awareness was aiming at a worldwide impact. The centrepiece was an international video conference that was controlled from and chaired in London.

Mr Bird said that business continuity needs to be thought of in the same terms as wider management of resources within businesses and he hopes that proper understanding of its potential will benefit firms of all types.

Mr Bird was also keen to emphasise the fact that this year his organisation is focusing on the insurance issues associated with business continuity management. He pointed out that thus far the definitions were vague and the comprehension inconsistent in this area.

Congestion charging online payments fail during hand-over

IBM suffered major setbacks in the nation’s capital last week after it botched a systems switchover and was taken to court by a local council over a data management matter. On Monday 2nd November IBM was set to take control of the Congestion Charging system from previous operators Capita. However, whilst the transfer of the payment system was in process, a catastrophic crash occurred. This prevented customers from making payments via the online system for 9 hours, causing considerable frustration for those affected.

IBM has called the lengthy breakdown an ‘interruption’ which it says was caused by a major upgrade to the payment system which occurred in unison with the switch-over. Customers who could not make the Congestion Charge payments online were forced to use either the mobile payment service or to make their payments at one of the many retail outlets in and around London. Continue reading

Virtualisation is top of agenda for disaster recovery

The Storage Expo closed its doors on October 15th after another successful event at Olympia in London. In the run up to what was the self-proclaimed definitive event for data storage and information management, a study of the most important growth areas of storage technology was commissioned by the event’s organisers. Over 400 high-level IT professionals were contacted and quizzed as to their predictions and preferences for the future of storage and backup solutions. An interesting picture is emerging based upon their responses.

Of the IT professionals questioned, 28% already worked for an organisation which had switched to a virtualised IT platform. A further 67% of those yet to make the leap were preparing for virtualisation over the coming year. Continue reading

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