Are UK tech businesses prepared for natural disasters?

With the growth in prevalence of cyber attacks, phishing scams, and hacks, particularly in recent years, UK tech businesses could be forgiven for assuming that’s all they have to worry about; that once firewalls are in place, and updates have been assigned within departments, they’re as protected as they possibly can be. What many businesses forget, though, is that there is also the menace of an altogether more ‘old-school’ ilk threatening hardware and data. We’re talking, of course, about natural disasters; how prepared would your business be in the event of a catastrophe?

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The effect of disasters on business: More relevant than ever before?

Whether you want to use the term ‘natural disaster’, ‘extreme weather conditions’, ‘freak storm’, or ‘act of God’, the result of such an occurrence is usually the same, especially when a business hasn’t prepared itself for the fallout. Indeed, the damage resulting from Storm Katie only recently, as well as the floods caused by Storms Desmond and Eva back in January, have proved that nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to ‘a little bit of weather’. People lost their homes, entire families were ripped apart, and UK tech businesses lost so much more than the premises in which operations were run. Expensive hardware and years’ worth of data can be lost in the time it takes for several inches of rain to fall, and suddenly you’re back where you started. One thing is for certain; the effect of natural disasters on UK businesses has become more relevant than ever before as we come to depend on technology and systems that are, incredibly vulnerable to the elements. How can we ensure we’re better prepared?

The growth of the disaster recovery sector

Natural disasters, including high winds, driving rains that turn into floods, and even mudslides, can have a crippling effect on businesses, particularly smaller setups where just a few weeks of recovery can wipe out cashflow altogether. We have the technology these days to ensure we know what kind of weather is on its way – but is that preparedness enough? In short, no; it’s one thing to remove the element of surprise from any impending natural disaster, but it’s quite another to be ready for it. We would do well to look towards American businesses and how they cope with such catastrophes. The USA is accustomed to dealing with an incredible range of extreme weather conditions, that include earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados. US businesses are more experienced with disaster prevention than most, for example creating survival kits, taking out substantial insurance cover, backing up all data, and determining an emergency communication strategy. Indeed, it’s important for UK tech businesses to be doing the same. Disaster recovery plans could include the isolation and assessment of risks, analysis of the effects extreme weather would have on different types of hardware, allocating responsibility so that everyone has a set task should the worst occur, and regularly testing equipment to make sure that it’s working at its very best.

Now is also the time to look towards the disaster recovery sector. These professionals are dedicated to helping businesses prepare for natural disasters, and supporting them during their recovery. Catherine Hooper of Black Umbrella is one such entrepreneur; her company specialises in creating custom emergency safety plans and disaster recovery kits for families and corporations alike, helping them to react in the very best way possible to a natural disaster. It seems important to note that Catherine herself is no stranger to crisis, although her own experiences lie within the financial sector. Catherine was engaged to Andrew Madoff, the son of disgraced entrepreneur Bernie L. Madoff at the time of his scandal breaking, and remained by her partner’s side as he rebuked claims that he was involved, and eventually succumbed to illness he blamed upon the stress of his father’s arrest and trial. Following Andrew’s death Ms. Hooper remained the subject of scrutiny. You can familiarise yourself with the scandal in Vanity Fair’s article, “Did the sons know?”, which forms part three of The Madoff Chronicles. It’s safe to say that Catherine is somewhat accustomed to crises, and has put this resilience to good use in helping build her new venture.

Whether it’s due to climate change, increased awareness in the media, or the fact that businesses have so much more to lose these days, it has never been more important to protect your livelihood from extreme conditions and natural disasters. The loss of hardware and data has the capability to cripple smaller business and severely hamper larger corporations.

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