Damage to corporate brand worries IT managers

A recent survey has found that potential harm to their firm's image now competes with natural and manmade disasters as a major concern for IT managers

Alongside the usual worries about damage caused by fire and natural disasters, IT managers are increasingly worried about technology disasters damaging the corporate brand, according to this year's disaster recovery report produced by security giant Symantec.

The report, released on Wednesday, is based on a survey of 900 senior IT managers in 14 countries, including the UK.

According to the report, the three main concerns of IT managers are damage to IT infrastructure from natural disasters (69 percent), virus attacks (57 percent) and war and terrorism (31 percent). These have remained the top three concerns since the report's inception five years ago.

According to Symantec's chief scientist, Guy Bunker, one of the most surprising findings in the report was "how much concern for brand image had risen as a concern for organisations".

The experience of companies such as retailer TJX, which in 2006 exposed details on 45 million of its customers, had "made a lot more people aware of the damage their brand could suffer", said Bunker.

"Around 69 percent of companies are concerned about possible damage to their brand from publicity from that type of incident," he said. "Sixty-five percent are worried about damage to customer loyalty."

A problem for many companies is that they have a disaster-recovery plan but do not practice it, Bunker said. "Some companies try out a disaster-recovery plan and it does not work. Our report found that around 47 percent tried it and it only worked in part."

Another trend is the increasing involvement of chief executives. In 2003, only seven percent of senior IT executives said their chief executive sat on the disaster-recovery committee. That rose to eight percent the following year, and it now stands at 23 percent, the report said.