Amidst the daily reporting of the latest revelations on the WikiLeaks website, there is a parallel story about the organisation’s own fight for survival. The simultaneous pressure of Denial-Of-Service attacks and withdrawal of support by key suppliers has put WikiLeaks under enormous pressure. Whilst few of us are likely to face this precise combination of events, the unique experience of WikiLeaks holds lessons for us all.
Whilst the Denial-Of-Service attacks have obviously had an impact, the more interesting aspect of this story is the loss of key suppliers. Either through outrage at the actions of WikiLeaks, or fear of attacks on their own systems, a number of key suppliers (eg web hosting services) have withdrawn support. This recalls, in milder form , the experience of Huntingdon Life Sciences, who found critical suppliers such as auditors, banks and insurance companies refusing do do business with them in the face of threats and intimidation. Ultimately the UK Government had to step in as a banker and insurer of last resort.
The unfortunate experiences of WikiLeaks and Huntingdon Life Sciences are powerful illustrations of how dependent most organisations are on their key suppliers. However, many organisations still take an inward-focused approach to Business Continuity planning and pay little attention to their supply chain. It is absolutely critical that key suppliers are identified during the Business Impact Analysis process and the risk of them being unable (or unwilling) to provide critical goods or services is suitably mitigated in the resulting Business Continuity plans.