Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) recently 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 several thousands of dollars, it also causes their customers to leave.
“According to the research findings, SMBs still haven’t recognized the tremendous impact a disaster can have on their businesses. Despite warnings, it seems like many still think it can’t happen to them,” said Bernard Laroche, senior director, SMB product marketing, Symantec. “Disasters happen and SMBs cannot afford to risk losing their information or – more importantly – their customers’ critical information. Simple planning can enable SMBs to protect their information in the event of a disaster, which in turn will help them build trust with their customers.”
Click through for results from a survey on SMB disaster preparedness conducted by Symantec Corp.
Despite warnings, most SMBs are still not prepared for disaster.
Most downplay or don’t realize the importance of computer systems to the business.
The typical SMB surveyed experienced six outages last years. The top reasons given for outages included cyber-attacks, power outages, and employee errors. 65 percent of SMBs are located in regions susceptible to natural disasters.
About half of the SMBs surveyed only back up 60% of their data, and less than half actually back up data on at least a weekly basis. Only 23 percent back up data on a daily basis.
31 percent do not back up e-mail, 21 percent do not back up application data, and 17 percent do not back up customer data.
A disaster could cause significant data loss with 44 percent losing at least 40% of their data.
Half of the SMBs surveyed implemented a plan only because of an outage and/or data loss. 52 percent with a plan only implemented it within the last six months, and only 28 percent have actually tested a recovery plan.
Outages cost small businesses a median of $3,000 per day and medium businesses a median of $23,000 per day. Outages also have a considerable effect on SMB customers. SMB customers reported that SMB outages cost them $10,000 per day, and 29 percent said they lost “some” or “a lot of” data as a result of disasters impacting their SMB vendors.
Downtime also causes customers to leave with 54 percent of SMB customer respondents reporting they have switched SMB vendors due to unreliable computing systems, a 12 percent increase compared with last year’s survey.
The survey found that 36 percent of SMBs intend to create a disaster preparedness plan in the future. As these and other organizations create plans, Symantec offers the following recommendations:
It is critical for SMBs to not wait until after a disaster to think about what they should have done to protect their data. 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 they 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.
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 for the long term. Natural disasters, theft and cyber-attacks 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.
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.
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.
If frequent testing is not feasible due to resources and bandwidth, SMBs should at least review their disaster preparedness plan on a quarterly basis.