Many firms have no strategy for data back-up
Many Irish organisations aren’t spending on technology to back up critical data or recover from an unforeseen event, and others have no documented plan to save their systems if a disruption occurs.
The findings, from a survey by the IT services firm MJ Flood Technology, show that one in five organisations have suffered a serious data loss incident within the past 12 months.
Almost a quarter of organisations would need four business days or more to restore their systems following a disaster such as a flood, theft or a fire.
The survey was carried out in December 2012 and 135 individual organisations responded, from across the financial services, insurance, manufacturing, food, utilities and public sectors.
A quarter of organisations were larger than 500 employees and almost one third were small businesses of fewer than 50 people.
One in four respondents said they have no documented IT disaster recovery plan, and 44 per cent have no IT budget allocated to back-up or disaster recovery technologies.
In 24 per cent of cases, respondents said they don’t back up business data held at branch or remote offices and 22 per cent said backup media are not always taken off site as best practice advises they should.
Hugh Jones, a data protection consultant with Longstone Management, said the report’s findings were worrying and that Irish businesses showed “basic errors and negligence in terms of their company data”.
“Consider the damage to the organisation if operations were suspended, transactions were halted, data were inaccessible for four consecutive days. Not to mention the impact of important records being irretrievable,” he said.
MJ Flood has carried out similar surveys in previous years. Taken together, it said the findings point to a “consistent failure” by senior management to address their disaster recovery posture. In last year’s survey, 48 per cent of organisations said they had no business continuity plan and 51 per cent have no disaster recovery procedures.
A similar poll from 2009 found that 43 per cent of organisations had no disaster recovery plan, and 25 per cent didn’t store their data backup media in a fireproof location.
In the current survey, almost half of the respondents (48 per cent) said they were working on a disaster recovery strategy. Those who don’t have a plan gave reasons varying from the business being too small (10 per cent of cases), to a lack of internal technical expertise (8 per cent); 6 per cent said it wasn’t high on the list of priorities and 2 per cent claimed they never had a serious system outage.
Just 6 per cent of organisations thought disaster recovery was too expensive. Fergal Hennigan, business development manager with MJ Flood Technology, said most IT professionals had never calculated the cost per hour of operational downtime and consequently, many prioritised IT projects with a more demonstrable return on investment.
It costs about €10,000 to back up and store two terabytes (TB)of data for a three-year subscription with no limits on the number of servers.
Around three out of 10 companies surveyed store less than two TB, which is equivalent to millions of image files, tens of thousands of Office documents, several hundred CAD files, more than 20 typical SQL server databases or more than 10 Exchange email servers for a small business.
Mr Jones said it was a “self-defeating” attitude for companies to allocate IT budgets elsewhere without first ensuring their data was safe. “It’s like locking the car doors but leaving all the windows open, with valuables in full view,” he said.
He added that formal disaster recovery procedures were becoming a prerequisite for some business insurance policies. “There are reports of insurance payouts being withheld, refused or halved where it was shown that the client could show no evidence of a business recovery strategy,” he said.