What Price Phone Security?

Following attacks on mobile phone masts by a militant group, the Nigerian chief of police has ordered a round the clock guard on all telecom installations. The damage to the masts themselves is estimated to run into £millions but the true cost to Nigeria will be even higher as the lack of phone signal hits businesses.

According to the BBC, the chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Companies of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, said that it had been “difficult to provide uninterrupted services”. Areas directly affected were without service and even areas on the fringes were suffering from overload. Nigeria is estimated to have over ninety million mobile phone users.

This episode serves to highlight how much we have come to depend on mobile and telephone systems. The lack of a phone line for whatever reason can have serious consequences for any business and should be a prime consideration in any business continuity plan. Depending on the size of the organisation, plans can include alternate landlines, differing mobile operators as well as satellite coverage.

At the heart of any disaster recovery plan sits the need for maintaining communication links. This will include switching phones to an alternate office or site or even to a home line or mobile. Add in a telephone message service which can be updated as often as required so that employees, suppliers and customers are kept fully in the picture. To provide two way communications consider a recordable voice mail service.

But even if the phone lines have not gone down, phones can still play an important part in business continuity planning. For example if winter snow has closed roads then those few employees who do manage to reach the office will have their hands full in dealing with customer queries, checking on staff welfare and coping with the “must do” daily tasks. Putting a telephone emergency plan into place could allow for selective extension diverts to employees working from home, voice messages and customisable messaging or even switching phone answering to a virtual receptionist service.

It is often only when we hear tales of phones being disrupted that we become aware of our own vulnerability. Taking action now to put a robust disaster plan into place could pay dividends in the long term. Hopefully the plan will never be needed but with the winter approaching and reports of phone cable thefts on the rise it is better to be safe than without a phone.

Written by nilfg