Information Technology (IT) challenges are intensifying. Among them, information system security, business continuity and disaster recovery planning (DRP) have quickly become the top priorities of the IT industry. Compared with other areas of information technologies, the DRP development is relatively behind market needs, and has received little attention at institutes of higher education. It is very important for academic administrations and technology centers in higher education to readjust their IT strategies in these areas. Meanwhile, to meet the growing challenges in the business world, universities must start to reform current IT education to cover the most updated DRP strategy and recent popular practices in information technologies.
The recent terrorist attacks on our country and the Homeland Security focus have propelled disaster recovery planning to the highest status in the information technology industry. Compared with other areas of information technologies, the development of disaster recovery planning for business continuity is relatively behind market needs, and has received little attention at institutes of higher education. The goal of this research is to provide our schools with critical information on how to prepare information systems for a major physical or electronic attack. As part of the reform in IT higher education, this article also advocates the integration of DRP and other emerging information technologies into our current technological curriculum.
2. LESSONS LEARNED FROM HISTORY
2.1 Disaster Threats Cross the Nation
The whole world was shocked by the tragic events of September 11th. In addition to several thousands of casualties suffered from the attack, hundreds of business organizations were wiped out in just few hours. Business giants found themselves vulnerable and paralyzed, with no offices, telephones, email, or computers. 250 of a total of 450 World Trade Center (WTC) tenants declared business disaster and 150 went out of business. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated later that the overall WTC losses were approximately $40.2 billion.
The WTC attack of 2001 was the worst disaster in the US history, but is not the only one. Manmade or natural disasters occur almost every year, anywhere in the country. According to the New York-based Insurance Information Institute, the 1992 man-made disaster in Los Angeles riots resulted in $775 million in losses. A NSU seminar reported that during the WTC bombing of 1993, 147 tenants' businesses were non-recoverable, and total losses were approximately $510 million. In the same year, the cost of the London Bishopsgate bomb explosion was estimated at $525m. In 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City was bombed causing hundreds of casualties. Government work was crippled for days, and costs were about $1 billion (Michael Hedges, "McVeigh financial tab likely runs into billions", Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau, 6/13, 2001). According to MSU's DRP report, in 1997, there were over 2000 bombing incidents reported in the US. Michigan had total 7,697 suspicious fires resulting in losses of $144 million in 1998.
Besides manmade tragedies, natural disasters are always highly significant. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), during the 1976-2001 period, the US government declared 906 major disasters. Damage from more frequent and severe weather calamities and other natural phenomena during the 1990-99 decade required 460 major disasters to be declared, and FEMA paid more than $25.4 billion for the recovery.
2.2 No Campus is Immune From Disasters
During the WTC attack, Pace University was hit hard. According to Frank J. Monaco, CIO of the university Pace lost dozens of people during the attack. Its World Trade Institute, which occupied the entire 55 floor of the WTC Tower One, was completely destroyed. The main New York City campus, which is less than three blocks from the WTC site, was totally paralyzed with no public phones, dorm phones, or Internet connectivity. The lives of over 14,000 students and 2,500 staff, faculty were seriously interrupted with no academic activities or school services for about 7 days.
In the past ten years, campus disasters have occurred frequently throughout the country. Table 2-1 presents those cited by FEMA (2000) and MSU (2003):
2.3 Information Systems Disasters
Destroyed property losses are comparably recoverable, However, business interruption losses, especially losing critical data, are immeasurable and usually non-recoverable. Above 30% of WTC losses in 2001 represent business interruption costs. Lighthouse Technology reported that annual data loss to PCs cost US businesses $11.8 billion in 1998. In 2001, the business downtime caused loss was $1,010,536 per hour for an average of all industries (Figure 1-1). Meta Group reported this statistic in major financial industries reached $16.6 million per hour in 2003 (Figure 1-2).
A study shows, as much as 60% of corporate data resides unprotected on PC desktops and laptops, and more than 109,000 TB of …