[ISN] NY IT Prepares for Disaster Recovery

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Aug 31 01:16:00 EDT 2004


By Brian Fonseca 
August 30, 2004 

As New York braces for the Republican National Convention this week,
IT managers at the city's financial services companies may be nervous
about the potential for terrorism, but they're prepared.

Having learned from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the
massive power blackout of 2003, many Manhattan-based companies are now
hardened with beefed-up disaster recovery initiatives, such as
encrypted data backup processes, remote backup facilities and
redundant telecommunications systems.

John Shaffer, like IT managers at financial companies across the city,
has checked and rechecked his backup and disaster recovery systems to
ensure availability of his company's critical IT resources.

"There's definitely a concern. [Terrorists] have obviously picked
buildings in our area that are potential targets. Who really knows
what's going to happen?" said Shaffer, director of technology at
Greenhill & Co. Inc., an investment bank located near Madison Square
Garden, site of the RNC. "We've been reviewing our plans to make sure
that in the worst-case scenario, I [can] move my e-mail someplace

The tragic events of Sept. 11 triggered Shaffer and his company to
begin implementing serious disaster recovery measures. Some of these
included moving its backup facility from New York to Connecticut and
providing redundant telecommunications systems outside New York.

"I think companies have figured out that they can't have all their
assets sitting in one place; you need things outside the city,"  
Shaffer said. "But they still come here to do the work."

Looking to eliminate possible single points of failure, Shaffer said
his company is also considering deploying VOIP (voice-over-IP)  
technologies to enable employees to work remotely. Also under
consideration is a wireless installation around the company's facility
that would reroute calls via a satellite dish, should ground wires
become unusable or temporarily disrupted.

While the threat of terrorism has remained somewhat of a constant in
New York, the RNC has pushed companies located in the area around
Madison Square Garden to aggressively plug any holes in their disaster
recovery strategies.

"I started getting calls before the specific terror targets were
named, more convention-centric questions," said Bruce Leibstone,
president of Warren Systems Group Inc., a New York company that
provides desktop and server infrastructure support services. "They've
asked me, 'My office is downtown—is there something I should be
doing?' A lot of firms get far removed from the backup process until
it's needed."

One of Warren Systems' most-sought-after services during the RNC will
be an encrypted backup service powered by EVault Inc. technology that
can take scheduled or triggered snapshots of customer data without
affecting server replication.

Russ Vernon, chief operating officer of asset management company
Barrett Associates Inc., turned to Warren Systems for help crafting an
emergency telecommuting plan during the RNC.

To prepare, Barrett studied employee commuting habits, determining,
for example, which critical employees come in from New Jersey at
Pennsylvania Station, which is located under Madison Square Garden, or
live in the neighborhood around the arena. Vernon then ensured that
Barrett's systems provide remote access for those employees.

"I guess the convention is the next issue in New York, but it could
easily be the weather hitting the Florida coast," Vernon said. "We
don't look at any one issue, like the convention, different from any
other disaster. We need to be ready for anything, whether seen or

To shore up its business continuity measures, CDC Ixis North America
Inc., the U.S. arm of a French bank, earlier this year deployed
Verizon Communications Corp.'s Enterprise Advance Network. The service
provides a 2.4G-bps SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) ring that
links voice and data between CDC Ixis' two New York offices and the
company's New Jersey disaster recovery site.

But that's not all. CDC Ixis Chief Communications Officer, Kieran
Long, said his company is only months away from adding a mirrored
production site in New Jersey that will enable it to have two active
instances of its IT operations that back up each other.

The RNC's IT staff said they are ensuring that their own systems
remain open at all times. "Our first line of defense is redundancy.  
Most everyone has a cell and a land line," said Max Everett, director
of IT for the RNC. "We're working directly with the Secret Service and
US-CERT to ensure our data integrity and network security."

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