IT disasters present a genuine threat to businesses of all sizes. In recent months, high profile incidents have caused global organisations significant financial, operational, and reputational damage.
For many organisations, the chances of suffering an IT disaster can seem remote. They happen to other peoples’ businesses, not yours. Unfortunately, this attitude is becoming increasingly outdated. We’ve never been more reliant on IT systems to deliver essential functionality and services, and the reality is that IT disasters can cause your business significant financial, operational, and reputational damage.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at the IT disasters that have affected major organisations in the past year. We’ll explore why they happened, the very real damage they caused, and how they could have been avoided.
British Airways IT Systems Outage
British Airways suffered a major IT systems outage in late-May 2017. The outage is reported to have been a result of an “uncontrolled return of power” following a loss of power to servers in a data centre.
The resultant damage to British Airways was significant. Around 75,000 passengers were affected by cancelled and rescheduled flights over a number of days following the incident. And what’s more, IAG – who own British Airways – lost £170 million in market value following the outage.
Although British Airways’ IT systems are undoubtedly sprawling and complex, such a disaster should and could have been avoided. Data centre UPSs (uninterruptable power supplies) should have prevented the power outage in the first place. And an effective disaster recovery plan would have allowed British Airways’ IT teams to restore systems to a different data centre, minimising downtime and damage caused to the organisation.
Delta Air Lines IT Outage
Delta Air Lines, one of the major American airlines, suffered an IT outage in January 2017. The outage resulted in delays and more than 280 flight cancellations, affecting thousands of passengers. The Delta Air Lines website and mobile app, along with airport information screens, were unavailable during the outage, resulting in further confusion and frustration.
Delta Air Lines did not reveal the cause of the IT outage, stating only that “essential IT systems” became unavailable and were restored “a few hours later”. However, a previous outage in August 2016 was linked by some to outdated legacy systems that did not have sufficient disaster recovery capabilities.
The Delta Air Lines outage – along with a number of other high profile airline IT disasters – demonstrates the importance of maintaining up-to-date IT systems. It may make financial sense to get the most out of your legacy servers and systems in the short term, but the cost of recovering from IT disasters could far outweigh the investment required to bring your systems in-line with the latest technology and best practices.
NHS Ransomware Attack
The NHS was hit by a ransomware attack in May 2017. The attack led to significant operational issues for hospitals throughout the country, with thousands of patients suffering from delayed operations and some hospitals “literally unable to do any x-rays”.
WannaCrypt, a strain of ransomware that encrypts files and demands a ransom to be paid for a decryption key, infected the NHS’ systems and caused very real operational and reputational damage; the infection soon made national and international news.
In order to keep your systems safe from ransomware, it is important to maintain a regular scheduled maintenance program for security patches. If the NHS had applied the latest Microsoft patches, it would not have suffered the damage caused by the WannaCrypt ransomware.
IT Disasters: A Very Real Threat
The three IT disasters we’ve explored in this blog post demonstrate how any organisation – no matter how large – risks suffering financial, operational, and reputational damage. However, all three IT disasters could have been avoided with appropriate investment in disaster recovery, patch management, and legacy system upgrades.
At AssureStor we deliver data protection to organisations of all sizes. Our clients can be sure that, should they suffer a major outage or data loss event, our backup2cloud and dr2cloud services will restore data and functionality rapidly. Contact us to learn more about how we can protect your organisation from damaging IT disasters.