UK companies urged to tackle £1.5bn computer downtime problem

Research conducted by e-Solutions, one of the UK’s leading fraud prevention, internal audit and compliance consultancies, reveals human error accounts for 56% of all total system downtime and data loss, and the financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications and healthcare sectors are more at risk than any other.

Central and local government also regularly experiences significant problems in this field, many of which can be eliminated if senior managers applied a degree of foresight to develop contingency plans that deal with all likely crisis situations.

Angus Stewart, chief executive of e-Solutions, said: “In an age when we can perform technological feats that would have been regarded as miracles only a few years ago, today many organisations cannot answer the very basic question: who last accessed our company server – and what did they do?

“The problem of ensuring a company’s computer system works properly at all times is exacerbated by the increased dependency on outsourcing, offshore consultants, temporary employees and IT staff that administer technologies purchased from a number of competing suppliers.

“In my experience, this brings about a significant decrease in direct accountability.”

To tackle the problem, and avoid reputation damage and costs estimated to be in the region of more than £1bn annually, Stewart is advising IT Directors to develop a holistic view of their entire IT infrastructure. This includes developing a facility that enables them to monitor the human factor through a process known as People Auditing.

“People are a system’s greatest strength – and they are also its greatest weakness,” added Stewart.

“Members of staff, particularly members of IT teams, can unwittingly create the most damaging problems that bring companies to their knees. In such circumstances, it’s important a company’s IT team can quickly get to the cause of the problem – and rectify it.

“Unfortunately, many public and private sector organisations have not made any provision to track and monitor the activities of their people, particularly in their IT teams. This omission in their planning is a serious oversight and will lead to continued problems and frustrations – unless it is rectified.”

“Thorough People Auditing demonstrates that employees and partners are meeting established guidelines for information access, transaction integrity and intellectual property protection. It will also protect a business far more effectively – and that’s got to be a good thing."