As earthquakes, hurricanes and security breaches continue to dominate the headlines, a report issued by AT&T Inc. and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) reveals that companies in the Western region of the nation are not prepared for disaster.
The report surveyed businesses in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. It found that barely half of the companies in these states have a business-continuity plan, and 38 percent of companies say it is not an important priority for them. Western firms are not immune to disaster, with 13 percent reporting having weathered a major disruption in the past.
Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of the region's businesses say business-continuity planning is an important priority for them, with more than a quarter (29 percent) noting that it has become a more important priority in recent years because of terrorist threats.
"Disaster Planning in the Private Sector: A Look at the State of Business Continuity in the U.S." surveyed 100 senior technology executives with direct business-planning responsibilities in the West. Nationwide, more than 1,200 executives from companies with more than $10 million in annual revenues have been interviewed, representing a broad sampling of industries and markets.
Although having a business-continuity plan is the first step toward preparedness, continual testing and updating of the plan is equally important to ensure that a business can sufficiently weather a disaster. The report revealed that only 58 percent of the companies surveyed with continuity plans have tested them in the last year, with a little over a third (37 percent) conducting a test in the past six months. Almost one in five (18 percent) has never tested its plan. The expert consensus is that continuity plans should be tested every six months.
Those companies that do have business-continuity plans understand the necessity for updating them. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) have revised their plan in the last year and almost half (44 percent) in the last six months.
Surprisingly, given the area's many high-technology operations, companies in the West are slightly less likely than those in other regions to either implement or plan to implement Internet security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection, hacker protection and password authentication. Only 55 percent have done so and 20 percent have plans to do so in the next six months. A little under half (49 percent) have set up backup servers and/or sites and about one-fifth (20 percent) plan to do so in the next six months.
Companies with continuity plans generally understand the importance of cyber security to their recovery planning. Almost three quarters (73 percent) say it is part of their overall business-continuity plan. Almost all (90 percent) have educated their employees on cyber security issues, 85 percent have prepared corporate security policies, and almost a quarter (23 percent) have contracted with an outside service provider to manage security.
Results are based upon 100 telephone interviews conducted this year by Opinion Research Corporation with officers at companies with annual revenue of $10 million or more in the West, consisting of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah, that have responsibility at their organization for business-continuity planning, particularly when it comes to telecommunications, Web sites and data networking.
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