Monday, August 15, 2011

Smoldering Computer Crises Erupt

Remember, we say two-thirds of all crises, on average over the past ten years, are preventable. And how many businesses or organizations are the victims of a computer generated crisis, almost daily now?

Our "down under" Crisis guy, Tony Jacques, tells the story of a Melbourne-based IT company that was the initial victim of a hacker. And the hack of the IT company knocked out the websites of 4,800 mostly small and medium size companies. The IT website host was forced out of business, and many of their small business customers may not survive.

That was purposeful, and might have been prevented or the damage minimized with better planning and crisis prevention.

Not too many years ago, we had a much bigger "host" company with several thousand customers, and a reasonable back-up plan for hurricane damage.  But a so-called "perfect storm" knocked the host site out of service for several days and caused significant damage to hundreds if not thousands of their business website customers.  The host company survived, and did the "right thing" by their customers, but not without considerable cost to the host and many of the businesses that depended on their company websites.

And if those examples were not bad enough, this past weekend, the  Hacktivist group Anonymous launched an attack on the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System. BART was targeted after the transit system blocked mobile telephone service in part of its service area in an effort to thwart an anticipated protest and demonstration against BART.

I can go on and on with examples, but we still see so many business and organization decision makers that think the only kinds of crises their organizations face are fires, explosions and natural disasters. We are living in a world where computers have become such an important tool in how we do business, and at the same time one of the most powerful tools that can be used to disrupt business or even destroy a business or organization.

When you assess your most likely risks -- crisis origins -- make sure you put computers and the Internet near the top of your list.

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