How can we encourage businesses to protect themselves from an attack that most see as unlikely and some see as non-existent?
by Chris Phillips, head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.
How can we get business in the UK to reduce its vulnerability to an attack from terrorists, whether they be a group linked to Al Qaeda (AQ) or a lone wolf who may even work in the community? This question is at the core of our work here at the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO).
The UK government has published its revised National Security Strategy entitled “a strong Britain in an age of uncertainty" and within its pages are a number of interesting details that point towards an evolving future for Business Continuity.
The new strategy delivers the coalition governments view on the emerging and current threats to the UK. Closely linked to the recently announced spending review affecting the Armed Forces the national strategy document and other dimensions that are highly relevant to us all and positions the thinking on both risks and importantly responsibilities for them.
Since November 2001, the US administration has been diverting crude oil supply from the market to the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR), which now stands at a record 700m barrels – in addition to the vast reserves held by the other 25 member countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA) club of industrialised oil consumers. The government has offered to tap those reserves as an emergency response to the massive supply disruptions caused by Katrina. But the SPR will not be much help. Releasing SPR crude will not offset a looming shortage of natural gas and, given refining constraints, will increase product supply by only a small amount. Its effect on prices will be marginal at best.
Compliance pressures have forced large companies to put disaster recovery and business continuity plans in place, and now these companies are looking at their supply chains and have identified small and mid-sized suppliers as a source of risk, according to Simon Mingay, research vice president at analyst group Gartner.
Tighter integration of the supply chains means that companies have an increased dependency on the availability of their partners' IT systems, and so big companies are insisting that smaller suppliers get their houses in order if they want to do business.
Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) The value of Simulation Exercises
From a bland, open-plan office in the Wiltshire countryside, distinguished only by a large plasma television screen and a "bat phone" prominently displayed on a table, officials gather regularly to handle the most horrific disasters. This week, their eyes were on the European early warning and response system displayed on the screen, while their ears listened out for the phone, which is linked to a protected government communications network.
The enormity of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina on the communities of the US Gulf coast has yet to be comprehensively assessed. Already, though, the consequences for businesses around the world are beginning to become clear.
Insurance claims are expected to run to many billions of dollars, and the closure of oil refineries is causing a surge in fuel prices. Coming soon after last month’s severe floods in Switzerland and Austria, and with the Indian Ocean tsunamis fresh in the memory, Katrina has reminded us of the impact natural disasters can have on business – especially those that are unprepared.
Business must plan for the worst and hope for the best
By Jo Valentine Chief Executive London First (supported by the Continuity Forum)
The terrorist attacks of September 11th should have been a wake call for the business community in Britain and across the world. However, nearly four years on, national surveys show nearly 49% of all UK businesses lack plans to keep the wheels turning if the unthinkable happens. Astonishingly, that number has only improved by 5% since the 9/11 attacks. Where there are plans – mostly among the larger and more regulated businesses – one fifth have never been tested.
The terrorism insurance system in the United States is failing to provide businesses with adequate financial protection, leaving the nation vulnerable to economic disruption if there is a major terrorist attack, according to a RAND Corporation study issued earlier this week.
As forecast by the Continuity Forum, pressure is mounting on Business to ensure that Business Continuity Plans are at the heart of an organisations planning.
Much of the reason is the fear from the sector that still too few organisations are developing an effective response to the risks facing Business, particularly with regard to major Terror attacks and other events, such as the Blackout in South London last winter and the Telecoms Failure in Manchester this Spring. The industry is also concerned about the effects of the recent weather events which have disrupted businesses across the UK and caused millions of pounds of damage.