MADISON, Wis. (9/3/10)--Lining up like ducks at a shooting gallery, hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic mean credit unions are keeping an eye on the weather and making sure their disaster recovery plans are in place. But budget cuts in information technology (IT) departments could affect how well they work. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an unusually active hurricane season this year, saying it could rival 2005--the most active year on record. The peak hurricane season--late August to November--has just begun. Hurricane Earl, which was reduced to a Category 2 storm as of 8 p.m. Thursday, was churning off the North Carolina coast about 185 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., with sustained winds of 110 mph at that time. Its path is along the East Coast of the U.S. That hurricane will be followed closely by what are now tropical storms Fiona and Gaston making their way across the Atlantic Ocean (Los Angeles Times
and USA TODAY
Sept. 2). Fiona is heading toward Bermuda while Gaston is too far east to predict its path accurately. The increased storm activity is a reminder of what credit unions learned five years ago when Hurricane Katrina and other storms prompted them to review their disaster recovery plans. Since Katrina, the need to keep data centers and applications running during disasters has become more vital because businesses and financial insitutions are relying increasingly on automation. It is becoming more difficult to run businesses manually, Deloitte & Touche's Technology Risk practice told ComputerWorld.com
Sept. 2). But, according to Damian Walch, director of the practice, IT systems are at a greater risk when a storm hits now because the economic downturn has resulted in businesses cutting back on IT budgets. During the past year, some companies have put their business continuity or recovery programs on hold--or scaled them back--resulting in "bad habits." The cutbacks have resulted in decreased investments in alternative data recovery sites, fewer staff responsible for disaster recovery and business continuity, insufficient capacity on servers and storage, and neglect in updating plans and procedures, said the article. With fewer staff to run the systems, companies don't have the geographic diversity as before, and the risks have increased, Walch told the publication. Credit unions and others are reminded that September is National Preparedness Month. "There is a tendency to think that a large-scale disaster is not going to happen 'where I live,'" said U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Adminstrator Karen Mills in a press release Wednesday. "The reality is that storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters can strike anytime and anywhere." SBA urged businesses and the public to prepare for disasters and provided four tips:
* Develop a solid emergency response plan. * Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. * Copy important records. * Create a "Disaster Survival Kit."