Rapid, Frequent DDoS Attacks Driving Demand for Protection


M247 will be exhibiting at Tech Show North this year.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attacks present a unique challenge to businesses. Focusing on rendering a targeted system inaccessible to users, most commonly by overwhelming it with a flood of traffic or commands, DDoS attacks have historically been difficult to trace, manage and prevent.

Much of the talk around DDoS inevitably centres on what could be labelled catastrophic incidents – massive attacks that completely overwhelm the bandwidth or processing capabilities of a system, bringing it down for hours if not days. Examples include the enormous attacks that hit the BBC and GitHub in 2015, while DDoS traffic speeds of over 1 Tbps were reported last year.

While these make great headlines, this is far from the sum of the risk that DDoS presents. In fact, believing that DDoS attacks are only large-scale affairs that target the biggest online operations is a dangerous assumption. The evidence suggests that smaller-scale attacks that cause only brief disruptions measured in minutes rather than hours are becoming more and more common. As virtually every business relies on connectivity nowadays, everyone is a potential target and even outages of the shortest duration can wreak havoc with IT systems.

According to the Corero Full Year 2018 DDoS Trends Report, large-scale DDoS attacks, defined as those over 10 Gbps, doubled in 2018. But that was only from 1% to 2% of all incidents. In other words, 98% of DDoS involves traffic speeds of less than 10 Gbps.

Not only are the majority of DDoS attacks low volume, they are short in duration, too – 81% of outages now last less than 10 minutes, 65% less than 5 minutes. Crucially, attacks like these are rarely isolated, by their nature they are prolonged and consistent even if short in nature. Initial DDoS incidents are followed up by another on the same target within 24 hours 22% of the time. This rises to 36% within 90 days.

Proactive detection

Darryl Petch, Technical Pre-Sales team leader at M247, said it was dangerous for businesses to think of these shorter attacks as insignificant. “Your systems going down for 10 minutes can cause a lot of disruption and damage to your business, ultimately costing you money,” he said. “And it isn’t just about complete outages. An attacker could not only be ‘stealing’ your bandwidth, but utilising your resources to reflect a DDoS attack towards others. It could result in an outage to your entire network, damage system performance and efficiency as well as cause irreparable reputational damage.

“It is the high probability of repeat attacks that really takes its toll. I’ve known companies that have been targeted every single day for weeks. Each incident might only last a few minutes each, but it is still like having someone switch off your entire business for an amount of time every day. You might not even know it is happening. An attack that knocks your website out for less than 5 minutes might not even trigger an alert, meaning you are losing traffic and potential custom without even knowing it.”

Darryl argues that the only effective way to mitigate against DDoS is to deploy dedicated, proactive detection protocols that are designed to pick up and prevent these types of attack.

“The solution we prefer is the diversion of attack traffic to scrubbing centres — geographically diverse data centres with distributed resource that can handle and capture potentially massive amounts of traffic,” said Darryl. “At the same time, filtering of non-malicious requests means that your customers and employees can still use the intended site or server. In some cases, the attack can be resolved by virtually fencing off the ‘target’ machine.

“Crucially, the best providers ensure DDoS mitigation occurs on an automated basis. There’s no need for a technical member of staff to react or intervene, which means that an effective response is guaranteed any time of the day or night, without the need for alerting an on-call staff member or waiting for customers to notice — and complain.”

M247 is committed to managing DDoS attacks on your business, with the end result in many cases being complete elimination of risk. We provide a fully managed DDoS service, guarding against attacks big and small, that might last minutes or might last days, leaving you free to continue running your business with confidence.

For more information, speak to M247 today about DDoS mitigation. In an age of increasing cyber threat, it pays to have strong defences in place. 

Think you’ve got Disaster Recovery (DR) covered? Think again


M247 will be exhibiting at Tech Show North this year.


Did you know that less than a third of small businesses have a business continuity plan to protect themselves in the event of IT failure? And a third of large organisations have no contingency plans in place either.

Typically, we see an organisation’s approach to Disaster Recovery (DR) dictated by one or more of the following:

  • The belief that it won’t happen to them
  • They don’t want to invest in a DR infrastructure that’s not needed 99.99% of the time
  • They’ve been backing up data to tape for years and see no reason to change

The harsh reality is that all businesses are under significant threat from cyber criminals who can bring even those with sophisticated DR set ups to a grinding halt.

Global ransomware attacks have caused significant downtime for many well-known organisations, exposing serious flaws in their IT security. Many believe that cybercrime is the biggest threat that businesses across the globe will face with reports predicting that it will cost $6 trillion (over £4.5 trillion) per year by 2021.

The risk of fire, flood, hardware failures, human error and power outages can also result in significant downtime for businesses, curtailing productivity and impacting customer service and business reputation. Analyst group, Gartner claims that the average cost of IT downtime is approximately £4,400 per minute, a high cost to pay for situations that can be avoided.

The biggest risk we see is those businesses who think they’re protected against every eventuality when in reality they’re not. When we ask them when was the last time they tested their DR plan, the answer is usually ‘never’. Many large organisations have fallen foul to not testing for vulnerabilities in their DR plans and procedures.When considering whether your current set up is right for your business ask yourself:

  1. Have you ever tested your current DR plan and did it work effectively?
  2. Are your business-critical services and workloads protected?
  3. Do you feel your DR infrastructure is fit for purpose?
  4. What would you do if your primary systems were to fail right now?
  5. Could your organisation benefit from cloud-based DR?

If your responses have left you questioning your current set up, or if the thought of your business-critical services being unavailable brings you out in a cold sweat, it might be time to consider Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).

DRaaS takes the risk of downtime headache away from your business, offering the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers in the cloud by a third party to provide failover in the event of a disaster. It can replicate infrastructure, applications and data from multiple locations to the cloud, enabling full recovery.

DRaaS solutions can conform to a set of Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) rules to ensure recovery from a major outage of systems is automated in an appropriate timeframe.

Disasters can happen to any business when they least expect it and none can afford to wait for disaster to strike! Be prepared for when (not if) it happens to your business.

Predictive Maintenance: What’s the Economic Value?


Hark will be exhibiting at this year’s Tech Show North.


PM for Better Margins?

The quality of a company’s product or service is imperative to its overall long-term financial health, and Predictive Maintenance can fundamentally improve the way a company can deliver.

Predictive maintenance (PM), the ability to use data-driven analytics to enhance capital equipment upkeep, is identified as one of the most valuable applications of IoT, predicted to help companies save $630 billion by 2025.

Monitoring Asset Conditions and Triggers

However, a new paradigm is essential for examining real-time IoT data. Maintenance of machinery has come a long way from a time when companies would take reactive measures to issues as and when they occur.

Companies have become more proactive in their maintenance plans by scheduling asset maintenance according to fixed time intervals. Predictive Maintenance has made it is possible to forecast when a failure occurs long before its actual occurrence via real-time asset condition monitoring.

This has resulted in a multitude of benefits to the production and maintenance teams including:

  • Reduction of asset downtime and costs
  • Continuous operational enablement
  • Identification of downtime-inducing factors

Factories implementing PM could reduce maintenance costs by 10 to 40 percent.

THE STATS McKinsey Digital

  • Maintenance planning time reduced by 20-50%
  • 10-25% reduction in worker injuries
  • Overall costs reduced 5-10%  
  • Businesses, on average, spend 80% of their time responding to maintenance issues that rise rather than preventing them

What Can We Do?

Reacting to failures can be costly but issues can be pre-empted in most cases with the right data regarding assets.

Predictive Maintenance can be crucial within a supply chain. Determining the right moment to replace a component is vital to the overall costings of a company, replacing too late can lead to unexpected failures and can reduce asset availability.

Hark’s cloud-based platform allows companies to simplify the route to intelligent assets to increase efficiency, minimise down-time while reducing waste.

Security

But there are some concerns around the security of smart assets and the delivery of real-time information and even the idea of cloud storage itself.

The Hark Platform safeguards sensitive data, encrypting with at least 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for peace of mind. The Platform stores multiple redundant copies of data in separate physical locations to ensure absolute mitigation of data loss, in the case of any system failures.

Energy Management in Retail: Analyse, Strategize, Optimise


Hark will be exhibiting at this year’s Tech Show North.


The last few years have been almost brutal to the retail industry; retailers are under greater pressure due to increasing costs and the constraints on consumer spending.

Declining margins make it imperative for retail companies to invest in initiatives that can both reduce energy consumption and optimise profits.

Operational efficiency is relevant in any industry, crucially within the retail sector given the current economic climate. Seeking opportunities to improve margins whilst leveraging corporate sustainability is pivotal focus.

Consumers and shareholders alike expect explicit transparency regarding product, social, environmental and operational sustainability.

Sustainability Creates a Competitive Advantage

Energy costs within the UK retail sector are skyrocketing, with commercial electricity prices up more than 80% since 2000.

Implementing a comprehensive energy management platform can be misconstrued as interfering with the execution of fundamental business goals. In fact, ignoring energy management is no longer a “stay in business” option as declining footfall and online retail rivalry eats away at profits, with 93% of the world’s CEOs recognising sustainability as imperative to their company’s future success. Through analysing current energy usage and generating a future management program, energy consumption could be reduced by 10-30%.

The Best Practices

Energy costs are fast becoming a burden for retailers, here are two potential solutions:

  • Equipment replacement/retrofits
  • Energy Management Systems (EMS)

Analyse

To make a start on your journey towards optimisation, you first need to look at the data you have.

Stores should be monitoring various different types of data, the most important being energy usage.

We have first-hand understanding of the challenges energy consumption is posing to retailers. Real-time data on energy consumption can be sent to the Hark Platform to monitor the efficiency of selected assets.

Strategize

Once you have all the data in one place and you can access it at any time, start thinking about how the information can inform a sustainable strategy and make the data work for you.

Take Note of the Hark Platform

Whether it’s configuration errors or a faulty part, the Hark Platform can assist in spotting problems and send real-time alerts in order to rectify them. In turn this lowers energy consumption and maintains the optimal efficiency of assets. This information can be used to report on equipment availability over time, allowing asset management teams to identify which assets are underperforming or overperforming with a single glance.

Optimise

For large or small estates, managing assets becomes a reactive challenge, particularly in the attempt to prevent failures. A proactive management tool like The Hark Platform can be used to visualise and understand asset performance, securely, from anywhere in the world.

Coupled with dashboards, visualisation tools and Machine Learning, the Platform can be used to over time predict failures before they occur, saving countless hours of unplanned downtime and increase asset yield.

Start to implement the strategy above and refine based on your results.

Building a Support Network – The Key to Success for Women in Tech


The below article was written by Eleni Pissari, a Data Scientist at Hark. Hark are servicing industries from manufacturing to retail through their cloud-based platform which monitors physical assets in real-time detecting anomalies in performance for preventive maintenance and energy reduction.


The tech industry, among others, is known to be gender-biased and we understand it’s important to support our female colleagues via platforms to discuss and change this.

By expanding our thinking in the tech community, we can give equal opportunity to innovators everywhere.

One of our most recent hires, Eleni Pissari, Data Scientist shares some poignant points on her road to success in the hope to inspire others:

“Behind every great woman, are great women.” Jaclyn Johnson once said, and it could not be closer to the truth, especially as I look back over my own journey.

My journey started in Greece, my home country, where in the beginning I was a confused young girl wanting to be an artist but ended up attending the Architecture university. It took me almost one year to realise I wanted more math in my life!

Shifting my career to Statistics was a tough decision but turned out to be one of the best I’ve made as it was the first step directing me towards the tech industry.

When it was time to choose modules every year it was custom to discuss our options as students to find out which ones were the best for us. When I started discussing my desire to take a module from the Computer Science Department, I ended up receiving weird reactions of disapproval. ‘But this module is hard, and it is full of men! Why don’t you choose a different one?”

And it was full of men!

That was the first time the gender gap became noticeable to me, there must have been about 200 men and no more than 10 women in that class. Luckily my professor was really supportive and didn’t immediately doubt the success of “just a girl from a different department”.

The next step towards my tech-based dreams was my Erasmus exchange at the University of Sheffield. I already had some experience with the programming language R and the opportunity gave me confidence to take on Python as well, why not get more programming languages under your belt? Also, from attending conferences I’d learned that Python was prevalent in Machine Learning so learning it was crucial in building a career in that field.

When I saw the use of Python in controlling robots in a demo from the Robotics Department in the library, I knew I wanted to get involved!

Lucky for me, the amazing initiative Code First Girls, whose purpose is to help more women get into the tech industry gave free Python & HTML classes, gave me the insight I needed.

I also drew strength from the realisation that so many women actually want to bridge the coding gap, it’s not just me! And the connections I gained through this experience was invaluable.

I’ll never forget an inspirational talk from Tanja Lichtensteiger, whose career and journey, apart from being highly impressive, reflected how challenging it can be for a woman in this industry. Her words and actions impacted on my own career and through the inspiration she imparted, I managed to feel closer than ever to my goal. Tanja also had some more tangible knowledge: her incredible network. This is where I came across Leeds-based recruitment agency Graft, owned by Melanie Parker. Her belief in a diverse and equal playing field for every individual resonated well with my goals.

Through Melanie, I found my current employer, Hark.

As their data scientist, I work alongside a creative and supportive team full of aspirations and goals to develop and build new technology.

Though I had been determined to reach my goals alone, seeking supportive environments and working with other women gave me an extra push.

Women supporting women proves to yield successful results.

How IoT-based Tech Can Help to Reduce Pollution


Hark will be exhibiting at this year’s inaugural Tech Show North.


Around the world, the over-consumption of energy is generating an incredible amount of damage to the environment.

The consequences of this behaviour are incomprehensible, and one of the most dangerous types of environmental pollution occurs to the air around us. Polluted air can lead to asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and lung cancer in humans, while some air pollutants have detrimental effects for our wildlife.

Though it may seem like we’ve hit the point of no return, IoT-based tech has rapidly developed solutions in recent years that have the potential to help businesses decrease their environmentally-damaging footprints via the monitoring, analysis and subsequent reduction of their contributions to pollution.  

Energy Monitoring

The Hark Platform is a great example of IoT-based tech that has the potential to reduce damaging energy-consumption patterns and in turn, impact pollution levels.

As part of our Energy Monitoring offering, businesses such as retailers or facilities management (FM) companies are able to monitor their energy usage in a comprehensive and engaging dashboard. By analysing the data collected, teams can optimise their consumption patterns by scheduling downtime. While this saves energy and reduces energy bills, it also provides companies a way to avoid using the National Grid during Triad periods—periods of energy demand that contribute to our polluted world.

IoT-Driven Solutions to Air Pollution

Air pollution is the world’s fourth leading fatal health risk (according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science). For companies looking to monitor their air quality (or analyse and optimise their pollutants) an IoT-based solution can work in conjunction with established sensors.

Advancements in low power wide area (LPWA) networks have led to the development of small, affordable, portable and permanently-connected sensors that can be hooked up to machine learning (ML) platforms such as ours. From here, teams are able to measure air quality data to aid their understanding of air pollutant sources, causes and fluctuations.

CO2 Monitoring

Real-time measurements of CO2 levels in the air are imperative to understanding how best to tackle pollution. Implementing real-time monitoring allows for real-time alerting systems or automatic actions that can be initiated when limits in the air are exceeded. Anti-pollution efforts or green air conditioning systems can then be considered.

Future

By immersing a company in IoT-based innovations at work, it’s easy to see their worth in the journey to reducing pollution levels. The benefits are tenfold.

If you’re looking for ways to monitor environmental changes as part of your future plan to reduce your carbon footprint, get in touch with our team or chat with us at Tech Show North.

What Does a Tech Show in the North Need to Achieve?

With tech investment growing faster in the North than anywhere else in Europe, the region is indisputably now a big player on the global tech scene.

A vibrant network of start-ups, scale-ups and established players, fuelled by an enviable talent pool drawn from a number of world-class universities, has made the North a hugely attractive place to be for companies involved in everything from software development, IoT, cybersecurity, the cloud and data analytics to media production, animation, gaming and VR/AR/360°.

All of which makes now a very good time to launch an event that brings this thriving sector together. That show will be Tech Show North, sponsored by UKFast, and delivered by Prolific North and Don’t Panic.

But what does a Tech Show in the North need to encompass? 

We spoke to some of the region’s leaders to find the answer:

  • Martin Bryant, Tech Consultant & Writer
  • Deborah McGargle, Steering Committee Member for Newcastle Tech Trust
  • Paul Billington, Commercial Director, The Landing for MediaCityUK
  • Richard Gregory, Non-Executive Director for Ruler Analytics, Ash.tv & Fluid Digital
  • Naomi Timperley, Co-Founder for Tech North Advocates