[ISN] More firms plan for computer woes

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu May 24 2001 - 22:12:51 PDT

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    By Michelle Kessler
    The network is down, computer screens are blank and important client
    data are lost in cyberspace. But relax -- this is only a test.
    Computer disaster drills are growing in popularity as hacker and virus
    attacks mount, the threat of power outages in California continue and
    companies store more data on computer networks that are accessed by
    more people, increasing their vulnerability.
    A study released this week by the University of California at San
    Diego said one common type of hacker attack, called denial of service,
    occurs worldwide about 4,000 times a week. Recently, the White House's
    Web site was targeted. Also, Tuesday and Wednesday, the Web site of
    the Computer Emergency Response Team, the federally funded site that
    tracks hacker attacks, was taken down by hackers.
    The No. 1 cause of downtime for businesses is hardware and equipment
    failure, says Comdisco, a firm that helps companies prepare for all
    kinds of business disruptions stemming from such events as hurricanes,
    the No. 2 reason, power outages and fires.
    It is ''finally dawning on people'' that computer disaster drills are
    important, says Steve Hunt, analyst at research firm Giga Information
    Group. ''You don't want the firemen to show up at the fire without
    ever having seen one before,'' he says.
    * IBM's consulting division conducted 10% more disaster drills in the
    first quarter of this year over last year, the company says.
    Comdisco's drills are up 10% to 15% in the last 12 months from a year
    earlier, division President John Jackson says. Clients are asking for
    longer tests, IBM manager Todd Gordon says.
    * Software company SolutionInc recently held its first disaster drill.
    Randy Currie, the company's technology director, tested his staff by
    replacing a data-filled computer drive with a blank one. Five workers
    recreated all the ''lost'' data in about 8 hours.
    * Pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories has run twice-yearly
    drills on its mainframe computers for more than 20 years. But it
    decided after undergoing Y2K preparedness tests that employees could
    benefit from additional training. Now, 20 to 25 workers are tested on
    computers of all sizes every month.
    * Texas Instruments has run mainframe drills since 1991. The company
    began expanding its training program 2 years ago. Now, it tests a
    variety of systems two or three times a year. The drills help TI
    identify ''data that is missing . . . holes in the procedures . . .
    and changes in the environment that we may not have accounted for,''
    says Greg Petersen, manager of disaster recovery planning.
    * Sophos Anti-Virus, a computer security software firm, holds monthly
    classes in Europe that let technology workers test their skills on
    computers infected with viruses. The courses are so popular that
    Sophos hopes to start them in the USA.
    The drills are important, advocates say, because they help workers
    diagnose problems, keep data recovery skills current and identify
    security flaws.
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