While many of us gathered around a table with our families and friends this Thanksgiving weekend, many businesses were geared up for Black Friday and a peak sales weekend.
Obviously, with so much expected activity and sales, security is a significant concern.
There is the obvious security concern of shoplifting and general safety for in-person shoppers. For websites and online stores, there is also the concern of fraud or technical, security problems
However, the overriding security concern for businesses on this weekend is simple: availability.
The oft-overlooked, little sibling of the CIA triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability - the foundation of any basic cybersecurity training), availability is a critical component of any business. After all, the most secure server is one that is turned off - but then again, a disabled server is also useless for running a business.
Recent security news has shone a bright spotlight on the importance of availability. As we wrote about previously, Facebook suffered an outage in early October. Because Facebook hosts online stores and marketing tools for more than 200 million small businesses, the down-stream affects of Facebook's outage caused incalculable loss for these businesses as well.
Last week, Google also suffered an outage, which affected the businesses that use Google for hosting, such as Spotify, Etsy, Home Depot, Target, and Lowe's. According to Google, services were down for almost two hours.
Moreover, going back to this same time last year, AWS had a multi-hour outage that affected companies such as 1Password, Adobe, Glassdoor, and the Washington Post. In fact, last year saw outages in nearly all major cloud providers, ranging from just 27 minutes for Cloudflare in July to six hours for Microsoft Azure in March. Just like with Facebook, every one of these providers supports thousands of downstream services and companies.
In this Internet age of constant communication and online activity, we rely heavily on the availability of digital services. Have we gotten to a point where we are too reliant on these services, though? What is our backup plan?
If your tolerance for downtime is several hours, or even up to a day, perhaps you simply accept the potential inconvenience.
But if your tolerance for downtime is less flexible, particularly around the holidays, then you need a recovery plan. Whether you prepare to temporarily host services on another platform, a local data center, or pen and paper, the important thing is to be prepared.
So, if you find yourself struggling for conversation topics with family and friends during the holiday gatherings, ask them about their failover recovery plans. It will certainly be good food for thought.
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