December 2016

Survey: Belgium's listed companies have a false sense of security when it comes to data storage

97% do not test back-up systems, and 50% plan to outsource activities

The CIOs and IT managers of 168 Belgian quoted companies took part in the survey. Of these companies, 87.5% felt they were protected from disasters such as fire or lengthy power cuts. Surprisingly, these respondents said that this was ‘because power cuts rarely happen’. The fact that they also have a disaster recovery service also added to their sense of security. Just 5% of respondents indicated that their organization was ‘reasonably protected', while 7.5% said that their organization had inadequate protection. This final group stated that in the event of a disaster it would not be possible to guarantee the continuity of the organization.

However, when asked whether their systems are also tested by switching off the electricity supply, only 3% of respondents answered yes. This means that a full 97% of respondents will effectively ‘test’ their backup systems for the first time when a disaster occurs.

“Our conclusion is that Belgian listed companies have a false sense of security,” Laurens van Reijen, LCL's Managing Director, said. “Many of the smaller listed companies, and some of the larger organizations, are not adequately equipped to deal with power cuts or other risks. They don't even know how well-protected their systems are, as they don't test their backup systems. All organizations, and quoted companies in particular (in the context of corporate governance), should have all the protective systems they need to guarantee that the servers are dependable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they should actually test these systems on a regular basis.”

More than half of the listed companies store their data internally at the head office. One tenth of them rely on their own server room or a data center at another location owned by the company. A total of 44% of the respondents have a server room that is less than 5 m² in area. In this kind of set-up it is clearly impossible to include appropriate protective measures or specialized staff.

That said, most of the respondents do not have a second data center: 53%. Therefore, they have no backup in case of fire or theft of the servers. At the same time, half of the listed companies included in the survey, have plans to outsource activities. At one third of the quoted companies that have a second data center, the second data center is located less than 25 km from the company's first data center. A major power cut is therefore likely to affect both data centers, which means the backup plan will not be very effective.

“And yet business continuity is a must for virtually every business today,” Laurens van Reijen added. “The rise of digital technology has led to more and more business processes being digitized. Digital technology is being adopted in new, disruptive business models more than ever before, and these business models are thus dependent on the availability of the IT infrastructure. Shutting down servers in order to carry out maintenance work is no longer an option, as customers also need to be able to visit the website at night to submit orders. And as we have seen recently at Delta Airlines, Belgocontrol and the National Register, a server breakdown can cause serious problems.”