“Crash! Boom! KaBlam!” Sounds from last week’s major tech blunders, including Sony’s hacked PSN, Amazon’s cloud collapse and Verizon’s LTE outage. While we wait for the postmortem and damage control to unfold, let’s take the opportunity to reflect on some of the best practices surrounding back-end network security and reliability, and hopefully prevent similar mistakes.
To ensure a high level of security, it’s important to harden the servers that the system runs on, enable security features offered by the system (such as password locks, complex passwords requirements) and segment the network as much as possible (for example, don’t place the database on the same segment as your access network).
Data encryption is also essential. A system that hashes and encrypts sensitive information, like passwords and credit card numbers, can prevent or decrease damage resulting from unauthorized access to your network. In addition, all payment systems should meet the PCI requirements for major credit cards companies to protect customers and your business.
As downtime almost always leads to lost revenue, your back end should boast a proven always-on (or at least five nines) availability. To help achieve this, grid architecture ensures no single point of network failure. Active-active redundancy as well as clustering of databases, servers and load balancers can significantly reduce unplanned downtime probability and duration. A well-designed, rolling upgrade process can prevent or minimize the duration of planned downtime during software upgrades.
An extra bit of advice, the “unexpected” can and will happen, so make sure that your solutions providers offer reliable, accessible 24 x 7 support,staffed by actual engineers. Don’t hesitate to ask for customer references to verify the quality of their customer service.
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