Businesses around the UK are being forced to put business continuity plans into action after the eruption of a volcano in Iceland threw volcanic ash into the skies and grounded millions of passengers around the world.
So far the ash shows no signs of moving from UK air space and the cost to the economy could be great if the airlines are unable to make flights into or out of the region for the next few days.
In Scotland firms have been instigating emergency measures to ensure that they can still operate at close to maximum and many have said that the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 had caused less of an impact than the current volcanic crisis.
Airlines are unable to do anything about the ash and it is expected that their losses will run into the billions. Meanwhile, holiday makers away for Easter are stuck in their hotels. Soon thousands of school children could be without teachers and businesses without key members of staff.
Sources say that in Scotland many businesses are reliant on last minute deliveries of products from overseas to provide their services and make money. The impact of the recession combined with this latest incident could be the final blow for many firms if they are unprepared for such damaging circumstances.
UK logistics expert John Menzies told The Herald that most were able to deal with the crisis for the first one or two days, but the prospect of prolonged operation without adequate flights would leave many in a difficult position.
It is believed that it has cost the average airline about a quarter of a percent of their total yearly revenue to cancel the flights thus far made necessary by the disaster and that the result will be much higher summer prices.
Businesses that have proper continuity plans in place may be able to allow staff to operate from abroad if they are able to find an internet connection. The longer this crisis continues, the more necessary such drastic measures may become.
MEPs have decided to put an end to the provisionally enforced Swift pact that had allowed US intelligence services access to details of millions of bank transfers performed by European citizens.
The Swift pact had allowed US authorities an unprecedented level of access to financial data. The intention behind the agreement was to help with the fight against international terrorism. But in spite of repeated requests from Washington for a renewal of the agreement, the European parliament has brought about its closure.
MEPs voted in their hundreds to bring the pact to an end, with most claiming that the data sharing had infringed on the rights of millions of Europeans with no beneficial outcome to justify it.
A spokesperson for the British government revealed that it was their belief that the end of the Swift pact would jeopardise the ongoing fight against terrorism. However, MEPs who voted against the pact said that the agreement had been flawed since its inception and that the US would have to reach a better agreement before personal information could be shared legitimately.
One Dutch MEP said that there were other legal avenues available to the US if it wanted to harvest data relating to financial transactions within the EU in the future. He went on to point out that if MEPs were calling for the right to monitor financial transactions within the US, this would almost certainly be vetoed by Congress.
It seems that MEPs were not acting entirely in line with the governments that they represent, as it is believed that a majority of EU member states were actually in favour of making the Swift pact a permanent fixture of international data sharing. The Swift pact has been in action for nearly 9 years since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, after which the global hunt for terrorists commenced.
There is clearly a strong sense of emotion driving the decisions being made on both sides of the Atlantic and division between authorities, MEPs and average citizens is creating a very difficult working environment. Clearly the protection of personal data relating to financial transactions is important to everyone, but it could be argued that transparency in this industry is the cost of freedom.
Backing up of crucial personal or official data through professional methods is a secured way of protecting it from getting lost. At the time of attacks on the World Trade Centre, about 80 per cent of the businesses lost their data completely and got blown away in the market. Since they did not have backups of their systems and data, many of them could not reinstate their business operations.
Professional backups of systems can be ensured by following these steps:
- A clear, documented backup and recovery process should be put in place.
- Every vital company data and its location should be identified.
- A responsible person should be assigned the task of managing the backup process.
- The entire recovery process must be automated to reduce human errors.
- All critical data stored in laptops and PCs should be backed up on a daily basis.
- Backup systems should adhere to high quality standards.
- The backups should be implemented in a secure and controlled environment.
- Backups should be safely and securely transferred offsite.
- In case of unauthorised data access, confidential data should be encrypted.