Reliance on power

by Mark Rowe

From cybersecurity to power failures, can UK boardrooms afford to ignore IT security risks? asks Scott Billson, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager at the uninterruptible power supply company Harland Simon UPS.

Cybersecurity remains a key concern and a real threat to many businesses. As a recent study of 150 board members in the UK shows [CGI Research, March 2016], the estimated average cost of lost data over one year could amount to as much as £1.2 million. Yet there still remains a lack of boardroom governance across the UK’s major industries.

It prompts the question as to whether there are other aspects around security and critical infrastructure that are being overlooked by UK boardrooms, which could also result in significant financial loss if ignored.

Protecting buildings and assets, communications and data systems, marine and transport equipment and power and water sites, to name but a few, against damage is crucial to a business operations. A power cut for any length of time for example can have substantial impact; stopping productivity, allowing unauthorised individuals to enter systems and sites and risks a business’ reputation both with its customers and within their industry.

Having a contingency plan in place if power is lost can reduce, if not eradicate in some cases, the risk to business security and keeps everything operational. Take, for example, a building, plant or site, if the power is deliberately tampered with and security fences, alarms and CCTV cameras deactivated, a business is at risk of people entering their property, staff not being notified and the crime not being recorded.

Businesses need to review how many power cuts they have experienced in the past year alone, and the cost to the business each time this happens. They could be looking at thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds for large companies, and when this is added up, the total cost over the year can be astronomical. In addition, individual components will be damaged as a result of a power spike, surge or dip, leading to costly repairs.

With the need for more focus on resilience and business continuity comes the need to invest in technology that can provide the robust reassurance businesses now seek. In the event of a power cut, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system will switch seamlessly to backup batteries without interrupting the power, ensuring there is no disruption to normal service. On restoration of a company’s power, the system automatically switches back to mains power and begins to re-charge the batteries. In addition, extra security can be added to UPS’ in the way of keys and passwords, giving further peace of mind to businesses that their critical infrastructure is protected.

The fact is that a business’ reliance on power cannot be underestimated and 100 per cent uptime is now demanded; there’s no room for failure and the security risks are too high. All areas of a business’ security need to be higher up the boardroom agenda as the environment is constantly changing and the risks and costs to the business increase. With growing emphasis on cybersecurity, the wider security landscape can’t be forgotten. What it comes down to, is that if left too late, the consequences can be almost too much to think about.

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