May 17, 2020

What will the end of Windows 7 mean for business?

Cyber Security
Information Technology
William Smith
2 min
Microsoft has ended support for its 10 year old operating system, Windows 7. How should enterprise react?
Microsoft has ended support for its 10 year old operating system, Windows 7. How should enterprise react?

In some respects, Microsoft’s ending of sup...

Microsoft has ended support for its 10 year old operating system, Windows 7. How should enterprise react?

In some respects, Microsoft’s ending of support for Windows 7 has turned computers with the operating system into ticking timebombs. Without security updates or fixes, any vulnerabilities found from now on will become gaping breaches into which all kinds of malicious software can be poured.

Leigh-Anne Galloway, Cyber Security Resilience Lead at Positive Technologies explains the possible consequences: “Microsoft’s decision to stop support for Windows 7 presents multiple opportunities for attackers to exploit ordinary users. Especially given that the operating system is still popular. In December 2019, 26% of Windows users have Windows 7 installed, according to Statcounter. When a new zero-day vulnerability (the so-called 0-day) is discovered by attackers, the consequences are countless. For example, the popular cyberattack exploit EternalBlue and when hackers used the WannaCry network worm to infect a web of computers.”

For the home user, the question of what to do now is fairly simple to answer; either switch operating systems, or, as Microsoft would suggest, upgrade to its latest offering, Windows 10.

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For enterprise, of course, it’s not so easy. The volume of computers, legacy applications that might not work on newer OSes - the problems might seem insurmountable. Perhaps the least disruptive solution is to pay for Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates until 10 January 2023. With the cost of doing so increasing every year, that may not be feasible in many cases, however.

Chris Mountford, Account Director and Head of Public Sector at IT firm Stone Group says “the easiest way to avoid issues is an upgrade of current devices and software. Realistically though, this isn’t always a viable solution when budgets are tight. There are however other options, such as refurbished devices that come pre-installed with the latest version of Windows, negating the need to go through a full software upgrade and leasing programmes.”

Whatever the outcome, Windows 7 will be missed by many, having restored Microsoft’s reputation after the unpopular Windows Vista and adding many of the features now taken for granted in Windows 10. RIP.

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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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