May 17, 2020

What businesses can learn from Safer Internet Day

Cyber Security
William Smith
3 min
Ostensibly advocating individual awareness of issues surrounding internet use, Safer Internet Day is nevertheless a good opportunity for enterprises to reflect
Ostensibly advocating individual awareness of issues surrounding internet use, Safer Internet Day is nevertheless a good opportunity for enterprises to...

Ostensibly advocating individual awareness of issues surrounding internet use, Safer Internet Day is nevertheless a good opportunity for enterprises to reflect.

Safer Internet Day began in 2004 as part of an EU project called SafeBorders, and aims to raise awareness around emerging, topical internet issues. Originally a European project, the event now takes place worldwide, supported by the likes of Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter and more.

So, what are the internet-based threats most important for businesses to be aware of today? According to Joy Beland, Senior Director, Cybersecurity, ConnectWise, “the biggest threats today are business email compromise and extortion – mainly ransomware. There are many good resources to guide you in protecting yourself from these, and the solutions are not just technical. Yes, you can add an email filter or strong endpoint malware protection, but all it takes is one person not paying attention, and credentials get compromised or malware is given permission to install. Education about what to watch for, like validating the sender’s email address and being careful to click legitimate websites when scrolling through search results, are key to staying safe.”

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It’s also a question of culture, with social engineering able to take advantage of the hierarchies present within organisations. “IT security tools are not infallible against human behaviour so businesses need to also apply security to their business practices,” says Jan van Vliet, VP and EMEA at Digital Guardian. “A business’ first line of defense is its employees. Malicious individuals are abusing the fact that junior staff implicitly trust their seniors and that they fear for their jobs if they do not act quickly as instructed. As a first resort make sure your staff are trained to require third party validation for any financial transaction or introduce payment procedures requiring multiple sets of independent eyes. You must put in place processes and beliefs that when out of the ordinary requests come through they should be questioned."

One possible solution to such threats is automation, thus removing the potential for human mistakes, as Rob Mellor, vice president and general manager EMEA, WhereScape, explains: For businesses looking to maximize the value of their data and keep it safe, data automation software is a great option. Data automation significantly reduces the amount of manual coding, allowing IT staff to dedicate more time to deliver results for the business. In addition, data infrastructure automation also aids in data privacy and compliance. Automation does this by enabling businesses to know where each piece of data sits and who can access it, as well as tag it and track its lineage in order to have a complete picture of how it is being used.”

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Jun 8, 2021

Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage

Technology
Fastly
servers
websites
Tilly Kenyon & Oliver James Fr...
3 min
Multiple outages have hit social media, government, and news websites across the globe

A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.

It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

What is Fastly?

Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.

The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06. 

What are CDNs?

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.

They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times. 

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

The Risk of CDNs

Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features. 

Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray. 

Over the coming days, both Technology Magazine and Data Centre Magazine will continue to provide updates on the current situation as developments are made.

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