Business continuity planning has evolved from simply something companies hope never to roll out, to an important focus of security operations, according to a new survey from AT&T.AT&T surveyed IT executives from companies throughout the United States that have at least $25 million in annual revenue to get their views on disaster planning and business continuity trends. Among those surveyed, one-third said it has been necessary to put their business continuity plan into action in the past. The most common scenario for rolling out a BC\/DR plan was extreme weather. About 25 percent of companies said weather forced their plan to be put in action. Another 19 percent said power outages at facilities were the cause. More than half of companies in Houston and Miami\/Orlando\/Tampa, known as regions that have been hit hard with hurricanes in recent years, were likely to have invoked their business continuity plan.(See:BC\/DR Challenges in a Hurricane Zone.) That compared with 36 percent nationally. This is the eighth time AT&T has conducted its BC\/DR survey and officials found that as BC\/DR plans become more common, managers are sharpening plan details and focusing more attention on making sure its effective. Nearly seventy-four percent of businesses surveyed set target recovery times for their key business processes. That compares with sixty-seven percent in 2008. AT&T pointed to the increase as an "indication that businesses understand not only is it important to have a plan in place, but that plan needs to identify goals and expectations for recovery should it be invoked. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, these companies have special arrangements for communicating with key executives spanning voice, email and text-messaging." In addition, the study found that companies have put increased attention to not only their own business continuity plans but those of their key partners and suppliers. One-third of the respondents require suppliers and other vendors to have a business continuity plan in place in order to do business with their company. Mobile concerns are also part of BC\/DR planning for most organizations, as 67 percent of executives indicate that wireless network capabilities are part of their business continuity plan. Nearly half, 46 percent, said that mobile devices play a major role in their plan's considerations.As more companies allow employees to access social networking sites, fears about possible negative ramifications are also growing. Three out of four executives surveyed are concerned about the increased use of social networking capabilities' potential impact on network security. Among respondents, 44 percent allow employees access to such social networking sites. However, just 3 percent cited social networking as the biggest security risk to companies. Hacking continues to be listed as the biggest security risk, with 30 percent of company executives indicating it is their largest concern.