Business continuity flaws exposed by bombings

The London bombing highlighted important gaps in business continuity plans, according to security experts.

Many firms discovered, to their cost, that their business continuity plans relied on being able to communicate with key staff via mobile phone networks, which were out of action or unreliable for most of July 7.

Others found themselves in difficulty when key staff were unable to make it into work, said Andy Tomkinson, a director at the Business Continuity Institute.

“Companies did panic,” he told Personnel Today ‘s sister publication Computer Weekly. “They did not know how to look after their staff. And communications plans did not work because mobile phones were congested.”

In the aftermath of the explosions police invoked a system called Access Overload Control, which shuts down large swathes of the mobile network, to free-up communications for the emergency services.

“Reliance on mobile phones is a big question-mark. It is in people’s business continuity plans, but mobile phones let them down,” he said.

Corporate e-mail systems also came under strain, which in some cases caused severe disruption to businesses.

Analyst firm Gartner said that the attacks showed that organisations need to have viable, tested business continuity plans, which are focused on people, not just business assets.

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