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Identifying Threats to Your Business

Risk assessment is fundamental to developing a realistic, reliable business continuity plan. Companies that proactively consider which events are most likely to occur are able to focus disaster response planning efforts where they will yield the best return on investment – and remain better positioned to recover from a disaster.

Always base response and recovery strategies on an understanding of the threats your company faces, as well as their potential impact on business operations.

Assessing Risk

Threats that may leave critical resources and operations vulnerable are not limited to catastrophic events.

Although natural disasters seem to be happening more frequently than ever, particularly in the U.S. where nine of the 10 most costly disasters in 2012 occurred,* many business losses are actually caused by small events that are not wide-spread.

When determining what the biggest risks are to your businesses, consider the following:

  • Historical – what has happened in your community, to your facility or neighborhood before?
  • Geographic – what is your proximity to flood plains, major airports, etc.?
  • Physical – what is it about the design or construction of your facility/office that might make your business particularly susceptible to a certain event?
  • Organizational – what is it about your employee, operational or technological infrastructure that might make your business particularly susceptible to a certain event?
  • Regulatory – is your business/industry required or mandated to prepare for any hazards?

Some common threats include:

Natural disasters

Some natural disasters are:

Manmade or technological events

Some events to consider are:

  • Fires and explosions
  • Industrial accidents
  • Chemical/hazardous material spills
  • Communications and utility outages
  • Systems disruptions
  • Transportation accidents

Are you and your employees prepared for El Niño?

El Niño is characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It is predicted that the U.S. will experience a record El Niño weather pattern this winter. To help you prepare and stay safe during severe weather events, consider the following tips:

Malicious attacks

Malicious attacks can include:

  • Terrorism
  • Bomb threats
  • Vandalism
  • Threats to reputation (off- or online)
  • Protests
  • Civil unrest/riots
  • Robbery
  • Armed intruders

Cyber attacks

Some cyber attacks include:

  • Denial of service attacks
  • Computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses
  • Cyber warfare
  • Cyber terrorism

Loss of workforce

Some events to consider are:

  • Long-term disability or illness
  • Epidemic (flu, virus outbreaks)
  • Fatalities
  • Worker strike

Supply chain disruptions

Disruption of service events can include:

• Counterfeit parts
• Regulatory requirement violations
• Transportation disruptions

Human error

Some human errors to consider are:

  • Poor training
  • Poor maintenance
  • Carelessness
  • Misconduct
  • Substance abuse
  • Fatigue
  • Counterfeit parts


How prepared are you in the event of a disaster? Take one – or all – of our quizzes to find out:

Need more assistance with creating a business continuity plan? Find out how you can create a business continuity plan in four steps. See other business continuity resources on our Prepare and Prevent website.

*Source: Insurance Journal;

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