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SMBs Not Prepared for Disasters

News Release

SMBs Not Prepared for Disasters and Don’t Act Until It’s Too Late

Lack of preparedness has negative financial impact

AUCKLAND – 17 December 2010

Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced the findings of its 2011 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, which measured the attitudes and practices of small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and their customers toward disaster preparedness. The survey findings show that though SMBs are at risk, they are still not making disaster preparedness a priority until they experience a disaster or data loss. The data also reveals that the cost of not being prepared is high, putting an SMB at risk of going out of business. According to the survey, downtime not only costs SMBs hundreds of thousands of dollars, it also causes their customers to leave.

“The Canterbury earthquakes demonstrate the tremendous impact natural disasters can have on people and businesses. While large natural disasters are top of mind for many businesses today, they also need to consider the more common disasters of human error and IT systems failures” said Steve Martin director small and medium business for the Pacific region, Symantec. “A disaster can strike at any time and SMBs cannot afford to risk losing their information. According to our research findings, SMBs still haven’t recognised the impact a disaster can have on their businesses. By taking the time to do some simple planning, SMBs can protect their information and minimise downtime during a disaster.”

“In a country of SMBs, Kiwis cannot afford to lose their business data or their customers’ critical information. The trust between a company and its clientele erodes significantly when an outage grinds business to a halt. Basic disaster planning enables the SMB to protect critical business information when a disaster strikes.”

Despite Warnings, SMBs Still Not Prepared
The findings show that many SMBs do not understand the importance of disaster preparedness. Half of the global respondents do not have a plan in place, compared with 36 percent of New Zealand survey respondents. Eighty percent of New Zealand respondents said that it never occurred to them to put together a plan, compared with 41 percent of global respondents. However, 40 percent of global respondents stated that disaster preparedness is not a priority for them compared with 20 percent of New Zealand respondents.

This lack of preparation is surprising given how many SMBs are at risk. Sixty-five percent of global respondents live in regions susceptible to natural disasters – however New Zealand businesses are at even more risk, with 83 percent of Kiwi respondents stating they live in regions susceptible to natural disasters. In the past 12 months, the typical SMB experienced 6 outages, with the leading causes being cyberattacks, power outages or natural disasters. This compares with the 5 outages last year New Zealand SMBs experienced, with top reasons for downtime being power outages, cyberattacks and employee errors.

The survey revealed that the information that drives most small- and mid-sized businesses is simply not protected. Less than half of SMBs, in New Zealand and globally, back up their data weekly or more frequently. Only 16 percent of New Zealand survey respondents, compared with 23 percent globally, back up daily. Respondents also reported that a disaster would cause information loss. In fact, 53 percent of New Zealand respondents (forty-four percent of SMBs globally) said they would lose at least 40 percent of their data in the event of a disaster.

SMBs Don’t Act Until After a Disaster
According to the survey findings, 60 percent of New Zealand SMBs (half of SMBs globally) implemented disaster preparedness plans only after experiencing an outage and/or data loss of these sixty-two percent of New Zealand SMBs (fifty-two percent globally) put together their plans within the last six months. However, only 28 percent (in New Zealand and around the world) have actually tested their recovery plans, which is a critical component of actually being prepared for a potential disaster.

Lack of Preparedness Impacts the Business

Disasters can have a significant financial impact on SMBs. The median cost of downtime for the typical SMB is from US$12,500 per day and US$30,000 per day for New Zealand respondents. Outages cause customers to leave – 54 percent of SMB customer respondents globally reported they have switched SMB vendors due to unreliable computing systems, a 12 percent increase on last year’s survey. In Australia and New Zealand, 47 percent of SMB customer respondents reported they have switched SMB vendors due to unreliable computing systems. In addition, 44 percent of SMB customers globally (26 percent in ANZ) surveyed stated that their SMB vendors have shut down temporarily due to a disaster.

SMB customers also reported considerable effects to their own businesses. When SMBs globally experience downtime, it costs their customers an average of US$10,000 per day, however for Australia and New Zealand combined it costs SMB customers much more US$35,000 per day. In addition to direct financial costs, 29 percent of SMB customers globally and 41 percent of New Zealand SMB customers lost “some” or “a lot” of important data as a result of disasters impacting their SMB vendors.

The survey found that 36 percent of SMBs globally and 28 percent of New Zealand SMBs intend to create a disaster preparedness plan in the future. As these and other organisations create plans, Symantec offers the following recommendations:

Don’t wait until it’s too late: It is critical for SMBs to not wait until after a disaster to think about what they should have done to protect their information. Not only is downtime costly from a financial perspective, but it could mean the complete demise of the business. SMBs can’t wait until it is too late and need to begin mapping out a disaster preparedness plan today. A plan should include identification of key systems and data that is intrinsic to the running of the business. Basically, identify your critical resources.
Protect information completely: To reduce the risk of losing critical business information, SMBs must implement the appropriate security and backup solutions to archive important files, such as customer records and financial information. Natural disasters, power outages and cyberattacks can all result in data and financial loss, so SMBs need to make sure important files are saved not only on an external hard drive and/or company network, but in a safe, off-site location.

Get employees involved: SMB employees play a key role in helping to prevent downtime, and should be educated on computer security best practices and what to do if information is accidentally deleted or cannot easily be found in their files. Since SMBs have few resources, all employees should know how to retrieve the businesses’ information in times of disaster.

Test frequently: After a disaster hits is the worst time to learn that critical files were not backed up as planned. Regular disaster recovery testing is invaluable. Test your plan anytime anything changes in your environment.

Review your plan: If frequent testing is not feasible due to resources and bandwidth, SMBs should spend an hour to review their disaster preparedness plan on a six-monthly basis.

Symantec’s SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey
Symantec’s SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey is the result of research conducted in October and November 2010 by Applied Research, which surveyed IT professionals responsible for computers, networks and technology resources at small- and mid-sized businesses. The report was designed to gauge the impact and stage of disaster recovery preparedness, perceptions and practices of small- and mid-sized businesses. The study included more than 1,840 respondents from 23 countries in North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Asia Pacific and Latin America – including 200 respondents from Australia and New Zealand with 5-499 employees.


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