Inside Track: System failure not an option
11 November 2015 | 0
Looking back across the past 24 months it is impossible to ignore some of the stand-out figures. The hacking of US health insurer Anthem in March of this year saw the personal information of close to 80 million people exposed. Of that, an estimated 60 million to 70 million of those people were current and former customers and employees.
Sony’s much-publicised data breach almost 12 months ago saw an estimated 47,000 salary records, personal communications and a variety of additional private information embarrassingly brought out into the open. Another massive name on the US health insurance market, Premera Blue Cross, saw social security records and bank account details of up to 11 million people affected earlier in 2015 too in a breach discovered almost eight months after it is thought their systems were first attacked.
While in October, there were calls by a number of US privacy groups for a federal investigation into credit agency Experian once it became apparent that the customer details of around 15 million T-Mobile customers went up for sale on the ‘dark web’.
Cork-based IT security company Trustev were among those who told the media at time that they had seen multiple $25 (€22.66) sale listings for ‘fullz’ (a slang term for personal identity information with enough details to be used for credit card fraud or perhaps even identity theft) on the dark web which were likely linked to the Experian breach.
All headline grabbing stories. All, in the past, perhaps considered something that just happens to corporate giants across the North Atlantic. Not so now. Anthem, Sony and Premera Blue Cross were likely targeted in high-level cyberespionage forays. But Ireland has seen enough of its own data dumps, system failures and human errors resulting in bad publicity and lost business to be aware of the need of protecting themselves against data protection issues and possible interruptions to vital services.
Whether it is to ward against a nation state attack or the results of someone just forgetting a simple but crucial duty, interest in finding robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BC and DR) solutions has probably never been so keen among businesses.
Small and large
Certainly over the past year Paul Hughes programme director for storage and data management services with market intelligence business IDC, said it has been almost impossible not to notice how “rapidly” cloud-based disaster recovery services have become a more feasible option for businesses “both small and large”. This is, Hughes said, a knock-on effect of those companies looking for a cost-effective way to ensure that “data is protected and business activities can continue in the event of a system-wide disruption.”
The increased reliance on cloud services was a prediction many in the industry made out at the outset of 2015, not least Gartner researchers, who in an end-of-year report felt that “digital business competitive pressures” had, by the close of 2014, began to result in many organisations placing an increased emphasis on managing sustainable availability for application services “that are delivered across hybrid clouds.”
Indeed, one of the key recommendations of that Gartner report was to conduct due diligence on the extent to which cloud-based services, “especially hybrid clouds”, will be able to facilitate the realisation of the distributed data centre “infrastructure vision.”
Continuing on the place of the cloud in the business continuity and disaster recovery market, Hughes said, “We are watching the evolution of today’s leading disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) offerings centralising around two primary technology supplier origins; traditional managed storage and colocation service models that have been available for many years from telecommunications service providers and data centre providers.”
Hughes continued, noting that “cloud-centric technology organisations have also evolved solutions from either back-up and recovery software or cloud related compute and storage services offerings.” The IDC programme director said that in a market that is “evolving quickly,” the core technology aspects behind cloud-based disaster recovery have converged around a common “functionality objective.” That objective is one differentiated based on “flexibility and usability of the technology, implementation and pricing models, and what I believe will be a customer experience focus, even for a cloud based service.”