Cyber attacks and airline DR fiasco create rude wake up call signalling the end of Summer 2016


Two cyber attacks and a Disaster Recovery nightmare for a major international airline have caught our eye in recent weeks, reflecting the urgent need for business to pay attention to the smaller details as well as what lies in front of you.

Firstly, the matter of the Delta airlines DR fiasco in early August 2016.  What started as a small fire and power outage created a painful chain reaction, leading to 2,000 flight cancellations, millions of dollars of lost income and significant reputational damage.  At the technical heart of the story, 300 of the airline’s 7,000 servers were not connected to the backup power system. Remarkably, despite spending “hundreds of millions of dollars in technology infrastructure upgrades and systems, including backup systems”, Delta CEO Ed Bastian advised they were not aware of the vulnerability.  Huge comfort for Delta customers.  From a backup point of view, this omission is a basic error which belies lack of preparedness by Delta for business continuity and disaster recovery planning and testing.  Gartner’s data centre recovery and continuity analyst Mark Jaggers commented:  “A lot of people do disaster recovery testing around moving a workload between different sites, but once they have done that, do they go back and look for defects in the design of the systems that are there? I don’t know that many companies are doing that sort of testing after the fact or as part of a disaster recovery test”.  Added to this, the complexity of IT environments creates intricate interdependencies and it only takes one fault or human error to trip up.

Secondly, mid August produced the news that FTSE 100 accounting software firm Sage had suffered a data breach following unauthorised access of a login. Whilst unknown as to whether the source was internal and external, the result caused exposure of personal details and bank accounts relating to around 300 UK companies. The cost:  Sage’s share price tumbled in the early days by 4.3%.  The remedy – due diligence around access privileges to logins if an internal attack, or more complex credentials across different sites and systems used if a ‘reluctant insider (ie. a user whose individual user username and password(s) have been breached unwittingly).

Finally, the end of August 2016 drove a chill through the spine of the cloud storage market with news of the true extent of a breach by hackers believed to have originated in 2012, where account details of over 60 million Dropbox users was reported.  Dropbox’s remedy of forced password resets has now completed.  However, whilst the data dump did not appear to be listed in the main dark web marketplace where the data would be traded, reports are being made that the data is already in the possession of 3rd parties.  The remedy secure complex passwords which are changed regularly.

Assurance derives from MSPs with connected thinking on data security services.  Amicus ITS MD, Steve Jackson commented: “Organisations should review their mission critical business areas and processes to ensure they have up to date and tested security policies, procedures, staff education and strategy.  Annexing cyber security services like FoxcatcherTM and Amicus ViperTM with our Data Backup & Replication service and an analytics driven approach, creates Cyber DRaaS. This will be the future direction for companies to consider and a service which we are currently developing”.  Failure to take such positive steps mean that companies which might have sought to rely on remediation and recovery alone, will realise that the fallout from capital value from loss of brand confidence, trust, plus financial penalty is just too heavy a burden.