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Businesses And Networks Are Unprepared For Disasters, Survey Says

Is your network prepared for a disaster like hurricane Katrina? A new report done by AT&T and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) suggests that many enterprise networks are not, and that a surprisingly large proportion of companies have made continuity planning a low priority.

The study, "Disaster Planning in the Private Sector: A Look at the State of Business Continuity in the U.S.," found that almost one third of U.S. businesses do not have continuity plans, and that nearly 40% of the 1200 companies surveyed reported that continuity planning was not a priority. More than 40% of the companies surveyed do not have off-site back-up or redundant servers and almost a third have failed to implement basic network security measures.

Considering the costs involved, AT&T chief marketing officer Kathleen Flaherty commented that this kind of attitude was shortsighted. "With today's heavy reliance on constant access to information, even a few hours of downtime can have catastrophic consequences, including huge financial losses, a tarnished reputation and lost customer goodwill," she said in a statement.

Indeed, two thirds of companies that had suffered some kind of disaster lost business. Some 16% of these companies lost between $100,000 and $500,000 per day, and another 26% said that they were unable to estimate their losses due to disaster outages. While it might be expected that, once bitten, a company would be motivated to take corrective action, this does not seen to be the case. The study found that almost a quarter of the companies that had endured some kind of disaster remain unprepared, and less than half have updated their continuity plans for the last six months.

"The results of this survey show that companies are taking an unnecessary gamble with their futures," IAEM executive director Elizabeth B. Armstrong said in a statement. "The cost of developing a business continuity plan and implementing a technology infrastructure to support the plan is minimal when compared to the daily financial impact once disaster strikes."