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October 31, 2016updated 07 Nov 2016 2:29pm

5 issues striking fear into the heart of the IT department this Halloween

These are sure to keep the IT department awake at night.

By James Nunns

Fear is a funny thing, not everybody is scared of the same thing. Some are afraid of spiders and heights, while others may have a deep seated fear of cows.

Some fears can be job related like the fear of giving speeches, which is called glossophobia, while some are afraid of computers, called cyberphobia, or logizomechanophobia.

Now if you are working in the IT department then a fear of computers would probably suggest that a bad career decision was made along the way, and the fear may not be of the computers but of system failures.

As it is the season of thrills and chills CBR is here to highlight five things that keep the IT department up at night.

 

Being hacked

Chances are that your business is going to be hacked, it may have already been hacked any you don’t know it.

Somewhere in your system is a line of malicious code that is siphoning important data and feeding it to an external person.

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This may not be the case but with examples similar to this appearing to happen on a near daily basis there is a distinct likelihood that it will happen to you too. Just recently

Cows. The stuff of nightmares for one of the CBR staff.

Cows. The stuff of nightmares for one of the CBR staff.

the Australian Red Cross blood service suffered a data breach and the personal details of 550,000 donors were leaked.

Then there is the users faced the risk of being outed as users of the infidelity dating site.

Being hacked might not spell the death of your business but it is likely to significantly damage both the company’s image and damage it financially due to customers leaving and fines, as seen in the Talk Talk hack.

Unplanned downtime

Benjamin Franklin famously once said that time is money and this is no more apparent than in the world of IT.

Not only does the IT department have to keep the lights on but it also has to make sure everything else is running fine because if it doesn’t then there will be trouble.

According to an IDC and AppDynamics report in 2015, the average total cost of unplanned application downtime per year is $1.25bn to $2.5bn. The average hourly cost of infrastructure failure is $100,000 per hour, and the average cost of critical application failure per hour is $500,000 to $1m.

The fear of computers is called logizomechanophobia.

The fear of computers is called logizomechanophobia.

Modern businesses are often reliant upon their technology working for them to be able to function.

An hour without the phone line working is a nuisance and can be costly, but an hour where the ecommerce site of your business goes down can spell disaster.

On Black Friday in the UK 1 in 5 ecommerce sites went down before 9am. This included the likes of Jown Lewis, Boots, Boohoo and Argos.

With so much competition in the market the cost of downtime is simply that customers go elsewhere to buy their products.

Unplanned downtime is certainly something to keep the IT department up at night.

Lost data

At best losing data is a nuisance that can damage reporting and result in inaccurate forecasts. At worst it is a lawsuit, fines, and making a forecast that is dangerously wrong.

Soon (25th May 2018) the EU General Data Protection Regulation will make lost data much bigger an issue.

With siloed data commonplace in many businesses it is easy to misplace data, or to simply not know where it is.

When the GDPR comes in any company dealing with customers in the EU will need to provide the personal data upon request.

Many still have no idea what to do about GDPR.

Many still have no idea what to do about GDPR.

Personal data means: “personal data is any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer’s IP address.”

A recent Symantec poll found that 96% of companies still do not fully understand GDPR, an issue that should really strike fear into companies because failure to follow the rules could result in fines of up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover.

Ransomware

Recently it was revealed by i newspaper that 28 NHS England trusts were hit by ransomware in the past 12 months while Bournemouth University was hit 21 times in one year.

Earlier this year a Los Angeles hospital was hit by cybercriminals that demanded payment in bitcoin for the hospital to regain access to their computers.

The demand of 9,000 bitcoins, around $3.6m, was not met but the hospital did pay out $17,000.

Ransomware should strike fear into the heart of the IT department.

Ransomware should strike fear into the heart of the IT department.

Losing control of systems due to unplanned outages is one thing but losing control and then being held to ransom makes everything so much worse.

Not only are the capabilities of the business significantly hindered, or stopped altogether, so there is the financial loss and threat to life in the case of the hospitals, but there is also the added cost of potentially having to pay a ransom in order to regain control.

This is definitely something to give the IT department the chills.

Being replaced

Everyone wants to think they are indispensible, that their role is important enough to the business that there is no chance that they will be replaced.

Unfortunately due to the advances being made in technology, particularly automation, the role of IT is under threat.

Research company Forrester reported in September that by 2021 robots will have

There is a real fear that technology will replace many jobs.

There is a real fear that technology will replace many jobs.

eliminated 6% of all jobs in the US, starting with customer service representative and then into areas such as lorry driving and taxis.

The World Economic Forum predicts that 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies will be lost through redundancy, automation, or disintermediation.

Frequently we are told that IT is under increasing pressure to deal with reduced budgets and automation has been held up as one of the best ways to save costs.

Automation combined with the outsourcing of typical IT jobs such as infrastructure management to cloud firms has placed an increasing demand on IT to re-skill and do jobs that are of more value to the business.

While there will be opportunities to re-skill and IT will likely find other roles, the reality should also be accepted that there will be jobs lost.

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