Heading into 2018, ContinuitySA is advising organisations to take the opportunity to recalibrate their business continuity management and resilience plans in line with the causes of actual disasters in 2017.

“A new year is traditionally seen as a good time to take stock and set goals. This one began with the reporting of two serious new computer vulnerabilities, Spectre and Meltdown, a timely reminder to ensure we understand our risks, and that plans are in place to recover from any disaster,” says Michael Davies, CEO, ContinuitySA. “A good starting point is to look at the reasons why organisations invoked a disaster last year.”

Invocation is the term used when a client formally notifies its business continuity supplier that it has suffered a disaster and requires recovery plans to be activated. As Africa’s largest and leading provider of business continuity services, ContinuitySA keeps an ongoing record of the disaster invocations it has responded to, as these provide useful insight to trends in the near future.

Mr Davies reveals that civil unrest accounted for the largest proportion of disaster invocations by ContinuitySA clients in the past year (31 percent), up from 29 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2015.

“Clearly, civil unrest has become a fact of life in South Africa and thus organisations need to understand what risks it creates for them—and have recovery plans in place,” he says. “It seems likely that this risk will continue to be prominent into 2018.”

Network problems of one kind or another accounted for 28 percent of invocations last year, substantially up from the 20 percent of the previous two years. This, he says, reflects the fact that networks are becoming more complex than before with a higher probability of incidents occurring.

It is interesting to note that while power has declined from a high of 28 percent of all invocations in 2015 to 9 percent last year, water ticked up to 6 percent from 3 percent in 2016. It may be that as Day Zero looms for Cape Town, and perhaps other cities also begin to experience water shortages, that water will increase as a risk.

While there is no substantial historical information regarding invocations on cyber security, it is noted as one of the highest risks for businesses in 2018.

“The future will not look exactly like the past, but there’s no doubt that it is shaped by the past. Organisations should take heed of what caused invocations as the first step in fine-tuning their business continuity management plans,” Mr Davies concludes. “Start your reassessment with what is most likely before you consider new risks.”