Fire and your availability

An incident in London this weekend was another example of why good service continuity plans will support good information assurance.

A fire broke out at an electricty sub-station early on Sunday morning.  There was fire, there was smoke, there was drama…  Then came the energy supplier isolating the supply as you would hope for safety reasons. 

8.51am that is the point when power to Lewisham, Eltham, Sydenham, Brockley, Forest Hill, Catford, Bromley, Beckenham, New Addington and Orpington was stopped.  This affected homes and businesses, communication exchanges and transport services.  Trains, traffic lights and tunnels were affected. 

The power was restored to ‘the majority of locations’ by the evening. 


So how long does your UPS run for?  If you have a generator does it have enough fuel to run for the day without intervention?  Can your support staff effectively work if they cannot get to the building due to transport disruption or a safety cordon?


The Availability of information systems is for many organisations becoming as important, and for some more important than the Confidentiality.  Loss of service, loss of revenue and the loss of reputation due to the reduction of availability are not as acceptable as they once were.  Customers and partner organisation expect a degree of risk assessment and risk management that now extends into the ‘real time’ environments that make information systems and the data they contain.  Business processes can now rely on availability without carefully ensuring that services and systems will meet the expectations.  They soon become business failures.


The metropolitan areas are now quite well served with networking technologies including ‘dark’ or ‘lit’ fibre.  The capacity to use your meshed network to access your data will be significantly reduced if your service providers sites are similarly affected by the incident that has effected you. 

This is just one example of why it is worth taking the time to draft and check your IA policy.  It is worth actually testing the solutions that are inplace to protect the organisation.  It is worth testing or securing suitable assurances from your suppliers that their capacity to meet you requirement includes incidents that are often overlooked in the rush by business managers and accountants to secure that ‘great deal’ i.e. cheaper solution.


~ by Simon Hancock on June 9, 2008.

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