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Business continuity warning for SMEs

Most small and medium-sized businesses have no contingency plans for staff who might be unable to get to company offices in the aftermath of an emergency, research by Cable and Wireless reveals.

Over 65% of SMEs admit their businesses would be materially affected if staff were unable to come into the office for a day or less, yet a third of SMEs outside London and two-thirds in London have no business continuity plans in place.

The survey of 100 organisations also reveals that less than a third of small businesses have updated their business continuity plans since the 7 July London bombings.

Jim Norton, senior policy advisor at the Institute of Directors, said that business leaders had a responsibility to plan for business continuity.

“The tragic events of 7 July and Hurricane Katrina, as well as potential fuel shortages, have each shown in their own way that businesses are vulnerable to events beyond their control,” he said.

The survey shows that although a third of small businesses recognised the need to back up data, they did not keep back-ups outside their headquarters, which placed them at risk if their offices became inaccessible.

Two-thirds of the companies had no provision for staff to work from home or to access company networks.

This lack of planning could leave businesses vulnerable if police cordons, fires, floods or terrorist incidents made buildings inaccessible.

“We are calling for businesses to take business continuity planning in all its aspects – technology, people and processes – very seriously," said Norton. "That means backing up data offsite, having access to alternative facilities and giving employees technology to work from home.”

* Viruses and worms present the biggest security risk for small and medium-sized businesses, a survey of more than 700 organisations by Forrester Research shows. The businesses also saw spyware and spam as more significant threats than external hackers and identity theft. However, European businesses were less concerned about malicious code than US firms.


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