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Article

Three Key Strategies to Prevent Network Outages

Preventative steps users can take to secure and protect their network against potential threats

Hackers and other attacks have become a major concern for businesses of all sizes. There are many reasons why your network could be taken out and rendered offline. Having your website down for even a few minutes can cause serious damage not only to your bottom line but also to your company's image. Consider that a well-designed website used by a medium-sized company that is taken offline thanks to outside forces will cost that company on average $5,000 USD a minute according to the well-respected Ponemon Institute. How can you avoid being one of the victims of this serious potential problem?

According to recent research, the three most serious threats to networks are:

  • Hackers
  • Network infrastructure attack
  • Natural disaster

Threat #1: The Hacker
Hackers have become a major concern for business of all sizes. Hackers have been able to penetrate even the most famous users' networks including Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to name just a few. A successful attack on a big fish can be added to the dubious CV of infamy. The hackers are looking to find out the identity of your network content servers. Having physically identified these servers, cracking the security screen can begin. Hacks can have serious consequences on businesses as unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive data.

Network load balancers offer a number of enhanced security features to prevent the hacker getting access to the precious IP address of the network content servers. This is mainly done by using NAT (Network Address Translation) to shield the real IP address of the server or by reverse proxy implementation that holds outside users in a DMZ, once again protecting the servers.

Threat #2: Network Infrastructure Attack
This threat is characterized by a planned, well-synchronized massive generation of incoming traffic aimed at the edge devices in your network infrastructure, so by generating large volumes of traffic the network appliances are literally overwhelmed. The attack will attempt to penetrate as far as possible into the network with the key target being the network content servers.

Load balancers positioned between the internet and the network content servers can intervene and repel such attacks. As a tactical move they can block the attackers and develop, in real time, effective black lists to drive back the incoming menacing traffic. At the same time, geographically separated load balancers in other locations can take over the needs of normal incoming traffic.

Threat #3: Natural Disaster
While we are all aware that placing your data centers in zones that are at risk from earthquakes, hurricanes or flooding is not advised, it is possible to build locations that can resist these disastrous events. However, if you decide that your data center can be located in a location that is at risk from a natural disaster, you need to be sure that your WAN links can survive a disaster; even if your data center can survive you may not be able to communicate with the outside world, keep this in mind.

Geographic load balancers enable users to balance traffic across multiple countries and geographies. Setting up mirror servers across two or more locations allows users to monitor response times from network servers. If a server does not respond or response times are too slow, users can even set up automatic rules for traffic redirection in the fastest time possible.

Summary
There are three major risks to users' networks. Fortunately, there are preventative steps users can take to secure and protect their network against potential threats. Load balancing solutions can be particularly helpful in preventing hacks, infrastructure attacks and the devastating effects of a natural disaster. Load balancers and application delivery controllers, in addition to the security features, can also improve the performance and scalability of business-critical applications running on the network. The installation of these hardware or software appliances will protect businesses from potential threats and avoid any downtime.

More Stories By Chris Heyn

Chris Heyn is the general manager of KEMP Technologies Italy. He lives in a small village called Arcene about 40kms from Milan. For the past 14 years Chris has been involved in business development for ICT companies looking to expand their activities into Italy and the eastern Mediterranean as well as the Middle East.

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