Securing Father Christmas’ Sleigh

With Christmas just around the corner, Father Christmas (and his elves) needs to ensure the contents of his sleigh are secured in flight. After all, 2017 has been a year where security problems have been rife for businesses across the board, from retailers to credit card companies.

The conversations have also been about the need for GDPR compliance before the May 2018 deadline, the troubles caused by British Airways’ downtime and more recently the talk the data breaches that have been suffered by companies such as Uber and Equifax.

Businesses, like Father Christmas as Christmas approaches, will be thinking lately about how they can ensure that nobody is able to prevent him from delivering the thousands of presents he needs to safely transport in in his sleigh.

>See also: Can the cloud save the NHS from a data breach epidemic?

Retailers and e-commerce providers face an increasingly more sophisticated onslaught from the miscreants that are behind many of the hacking attacks. But…data centres can help to keep these providers and Father Christmas operational during the festive season.

Good forecast

Interestingly, Deloitte forecasts a 1.8% increase in spending this year. However, with October proving a disappointment for most retailers, the consultancy firms claims that they are holding their breath for this prediction to become a reality.

Its survey finds that UK consumers are the most active online spending in Europe. The UK’s online shoppers plan to spend 142% more on gifts and 207% more on food and drink online than the European average. It is predicated that on average people will spend £544 each this Christmas, and £284 of that expenditure will be on buying presents.

Yet compared to 2014, Black Friday 2017 has been a quieter and more orderly affair than many retailers hoped. The jury is therefore out, but there will be increased online traffic and data volumes if sales and e-commerce activity do increase.

>See also: Payment details exposed as Pizza Hut suffers data breach

Furthermore, regardless of what happens, retailers and e-commerce firms need to prepare now to prevent increases in internet traffic leading to their websites collapsing under the strain. Santa also wants to wish everyone, “Happy Christmas!” He doesn’t want to have to cope with IT issues, or with issues that will prevent his sleigh from operating.

Social sharing

Social sharing is on the increase too. People are using their social networks to increasingly make recommendations and to ‘advertise’ what they’ve bought. Research by Joao Romao, the CEO at Getsocial.io, a social media tool that helps websites track their social sharing activities, finds that 64% of people copy and paste links to refer items that may be of interest to others. Another 85% copy and paste social sharing URLs.

However, a further 36% of them use social sharing buttons. Mobile is the most popular channel for these activities, followed by desktop PCs and tablets fall. Behind this social sharing, is Big Data analytics and algorithms to present whatever may be of interest to someone.

Here are some other interesting statistics, reported by John McCarthy in his article ‘Global online video consumption and advertising to increase by a fifth in 2017’ for The Drum (published in July 2017): “Zenith’s Online Video Forecasts 2017 report has claimed that online video viewing across the globe is set to increase by a fifth in 2017, showing that the medium’s recent bout of growth was not an anomaly and is a long-term channel for advertisers to embrace.”

He then writes: “Notably, smartphone viewing will increase by 35% to 28.8 minutes per day in 2017, swelling by 25% in 2018 and 29% in 2019. Meanwhile fixed-device viewing on PCs, laptops and smart TVs increase by 2% to 20.3 minutes. This is reputed to be the peak of fixed device viewing as mobile looks set to dominate viewing habits.”

>See also: Are you ready to deal with a data breach? 

This not only increases the opportunities for advertisers and social interaction, but poses a problem of how to secure content. Video data is not insignificant in volume, and video is seen as an effective tool for e-commerce.

Traditionally, backing it up isn’t easy. It’s also becoming an important way to share ideas, with social networking sites such as Facebook permitting users to record their own live video streams from their smartphones, PCs and tablets. It’s therefore an influential tool, which even Santa may wish to think about using.

Once his work is done, Santa likes to watch a bit of TV. It’s a busy time for broadcasters too, and to ensure that they can maintain their services they will need to have the ability to send video data from one data centre to another – which may be located on the other side of the world – in as close to real-time as possible. They may also be working on the latest Christmas blockbuster, with some of the team being based in the UK and the rest of the team being located in say that US.

Broadcasters, social media companies, advertisers, and e-commerce providers may therefore want to use a data centre in each country, while backing up the data to another disaster recovery site with data centre assistance to ensure that the task is completed effectively. Much will depend on network connectivity available at each point.

Data centre help

So, how can data centres help Santa, the e-commerce providers and the retailers? Well, they can provide the secure infrastructure that’s needed to support festive online shopping. They can also help them all to address data protection issues. They can also offer disaster recovery, service and business continuity as part of their proposition. However, they shouldn’t rely just on one data centre.

>See also: Data breaches continue to rise in the connected age

That’s because organisations should invest in at least 3 data centres, and despite the network and data latency challenges they shouldn’t located too close together in case a natural disaster or manmade were to strike. Such an investment would be their best insurance policy, enabling them to continue no matter what is thrown at them during the pre-Christmas, Christmas and post-Christmas period.

Big data analytics

Another aspect of securing Santa’s sleigh requires big data analytics in real-time, to enable him and his partners to accurately forecast demand. This enable them to deliver the right presents to the right people and on time.

Moreover, it will enable them to plan with their data centres for an increase in demand, and be ready for any increases in transactional data volumes.

In terms of disaster recovery, service and business continuity, they should have the ability to move their e-commerce websites from one part of the work to another at speed, and with no disruption to cause operational headaches.

Data acceleration

Traditionally data centres are often placed in close proximity to each other to reduce the impact that latency and packet loss can have on network performance. This approach is risky, and WAN Optimisation does little to help companies to mitigate it. If there is a need to encrypt the data, then WAN Optimisation certainly isn’t the answer.

>See also: Where is the weak link in data security? 

What’s needed is a data acceleration solution such as PORTrockIT. They can enable organisations to store their data, their websites and operate other aspects of their IT from a greater distance than WAN optimisation permits. Data acceleration solutions can also transfer large volumes of encrypted data.

Thus, enabling Santa’s sleigh and his data sacks to remain secure while mitigating the effects of latency and packet loss. With data acceleration Santa will also be able to make sure that he’s not carrying too much in is sleigh.

Like a WAN network, he needs to consider volumes (i.e. network capacity), the fitness of his reindeer to transport him on his global journey (i.e. data and network speed, security, packet loss ad latency mitigation), and the issues that might prevent him from getting down each chimney.

With these issues in mind, he’s hired some good data centres to assist him. He’s therefore confident that his sleigh is now fast and secure, and predicts that Christmas will be great this year.

 

Sourced by David Trossell, CEO and CTO of Bridgeworks

Avatar photo

Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.