It appears that the threat of an H1N1 outbreak has not prompted enterprises to re-evaluate their disaster recovery plans or better enable a mobile workforce, according to a new Cisco Systems Inc. study.
The networking giant found that only 22 per cent of survey respondents consider their remote-access infrastructure to be disaster-ready. The survey polled 500 IT security decision-makers at U.S. health-care, financial, retail and public sector organizations last month
In addition, the reported indicated that 21 per cent of respondents admitted to having no employees enabled to work remotely and 53 per cent said that less than half of their employees are capable of working from home.
Fred Kost, director of security solutions marketing at Cisco, said many of these organizations will be the hardest hit in the event of a flu pandemic. But even less extreme circumstances, such as a major road closure or a winter storm, would probably have a noticeable impact on the business as well.
“Here in the Bay area, the Bay Bridge had planned and scheduled a shutdown for a day,” Kost said. “But then we saw an additional and unexpected six-day shutdown.”
Ensuring that all essential workers are enabled with remote-access capabilities is crucial, he added, to operating business as usual during unexpected events.
Providing remote VPN connectivity back into the office might be enough for a mobile worker that just requires e-mail or a select few applications, but for employees who require real-time communication and full telephony capabilities, some investments should be made, Kost said.
Justin Folkerts, security analyst at Fusepoint Managed Services Inc., said that if he was asked to step into the shoes of an IT security leader at any of the 21 per cent of companies that don’t enable any of their employees to work remotely, the first issues he would address would be technology-related.
“Do we have the tools and technologies in place for employees to be working remotely?” he said. “Do we have the bandwidth? Do we have the storage capability within our phone systems and e-mail servers to be able to queue two or more weeks of data from more than 40 per cent of your missing staff?”