Eighty percent of U.S. IT executives surveyed in the 2011
Business Continuity Study indicated their companies are investing in new technologies this year. Of those respondents, a plurality ( 43 percent) plan to spend some of their budget on cloud
computing. That marks tremendous increase in just one year:
in 2010, only 21 percent of businesses intended to make cloud
Mobility Creates Concerns
There’s no question that mobile devices are prolific today.
Unlike cloud computing, which many still count as an “
emerging” technology, mobility has penetrated the business world and
our personal lives. IDC, a leading industry analyst firm, predicts
that device manufacturers will ship a total of 1. 6 billion mobile
phones in 2011.
With an array of different device types, smartphone operating systems, and carriers available to consumers, IT departments
have struggled to maintain control over employees’ wireless
devices. People want to bring their own phones to work and use
them to conduct business, but this practice can present a number
of security risks.
The vast majority ( 82 percent) of U.S. IT executives surveyed
in the 2011 Business Continuity Study expressed concern regarding security on mobile networks and devices. They’re worried
about a new kind of disaster, one that can disrupt operations just
as easily as a hurricane or an earthquake and one that can have
devastating effects on a business: cyber attack.
Over the past five years, cyber threats have evolved, and cyber
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criminals have grown more sophisticated. Individual hackers,
organized crime groups, terrorists, and others use a broad variety of tools and techniques to infect computers and applications,
mine for sensitive information, or disrupt service.
These security issues once applied only to the wired world, but
widespread adoption of smartphone technology has revealed the
rising risk of cyber attack in wireless environments. Expanded
access to mobile applications creates new opportunities for malicious activity, and hackers are developing more innovative delivery mechanisms that exploit the increased security threats.
If attacked by viruses, botnets, or hackers, companies can
experience significant revenue loss caused by theft, operational
downtime, reputation damage, and destruction of digital infrastructure.
On the bright side, businesses can prepare for wireless security breeches, just as they would for any other disruptive event.
Companies that use mobile devices for business should consider
protecting themselves with services such as mobile user authentication, network intrusion detection and prevention, mobile data
storage, and mobile device encryption.
In the case of cyber attacks, a proactive approach to planning
and securing data, devices, and networks can help businesses
avoid disaster altogether.
No More Snow Days
We’ve seen dozens of examples of disasters and severe
weather since the start of this year: tornadoes in the U.S., the
Japanese earthquake and tsunami in April, and the Rio de Janeiro
mudslides and floods this January, to name a few.
In extreme conditions, many people want to hunker down and
stay at home, rather than make dangerous treks to work. High
rates of absenteeism, however, can seriously impact a company’s
ability to function.
Remote access plans are a fundamental part of business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Enabling employees to
work outside of the office can help companies maintain their customer service, minimize disruption to their business processes,
and protect the health and well-being of their staff during a disaster scenario.
As part of a continuity plan, remote access means more than
simply permitting workers to conduct business from home. It
also involves setting up infrastructure and testing it in advance to
ensure that employees can perform effectively and securely outside of the office. For instance, remote Virtual Private Network
(VPN) access can extend the availability of critical business processes, applications, data, work centers, and networks to employees, virtually any time and almost anywhere.
This year, 80 percent of U.S. respondents in the Business
Continuity Study said their companies have systems in place that
allow all or most employees to work remotely. In 2008, only two-thirds of the businesses surveyed had established remote access
plans. The 14 percentage-point increase indicates a trend toward
better preparedness and greater acceptance of mobile workforces.
Mobility factors directly into many business continuity plans
– not only through remote access solutions, but also in terms of
mobile device and wireless network use. More than three-fourths
( 78 percent) of companies indicated that employee use of mobile