It has been quite a year for cloud services provider Akamai. In June, the company streamed the FIFA World Cup 2014 and experienced the highest traffic in the company's history. Later in the year, it was faced with a challenge with 17 DDoS (Denial of service) attacks, which it helped mitigate. But it’s the future that the company is concerned about. As more and more content moves to the cloud, there will be more devious methods of stealing.
Rick Lanman, the regional manager of Akamai Technologies, Asean, looks back at the year and whips out his crystal ball for the future.
1. What are the high and low points of the industry in 2014 in your opinion?
One of the main highlights in our industry this year was the fact that smart devices and Web technology were used to consume media and to complete a lot more work.
Akamai streamed a number of major worldwide events both in 2013 and in 2014, but the FIFA World Cup 2014 was by far the biggest sporting event in terms of Internet traffic that we have seen at Akamai.
The highest traffic of 6.9Tbps was recorded during the Argentina versus Netherlands game. What we saw through all the events that we streamed and especially the World Cup is that audiences have started consuming more media through various mobile devices because people want to watch high quality, live coverage of events from wherever they are.
The low point was the size and volume of DDoS attacks this year.
In Q3 2014, Akamai mitigated 17 attacks of greater than 100 Gbps each, with the largest totaling 321 Gbps.
Attackers have been deploying new methods of attack and have upgraded older methods, resulting in four times the number of attacks in Q3 2014 than in the same corresponding in the previous year.
The attackers have also started seeking to control devices such as routers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, for example, smart thermostat systems and smart washer/dryers.
2. Which areas of your business fared best in Malaysia in 2014 and why?
We saw strong growth across multiple sectors like commercial and financial services in Malaysia, and a good adoption from new customers.
In terms of solutions, security remains a key focus of our customers and prospects in Malaysia, with organisations also continuing to look at delivering web and application performance through the Akamai platform.
As our business continues to grow in the region, I expect to see stronger adoption in the enterprise sector. Cloud adoption continues to gain momentum in Malaysia and with that, application performance and security become the key areas of concern for CIOs and CTOs.
The opportunity we have seen in the last 12 months for Malaysian organisations to expand their businesses internationally and consolidate their infrastructure will enable these businesses to benefit across multiple aspects of the Akamai platform.
3. What trends in the industry do you see shaping your business next year?
Secure and superior web experience will become essential. As cloud matures, we expect a lot more internal and external applications to be built on this platform, and the consumption of media through mobile devices to continue to grow at a rapid rate.
This will create a demand for a better and instant end-user experience regardless of the device they are using, the network, browser type or the type of content they are accessing.
To meet this demand, organisations will need to look into adopting the ‘situational performance’ approach to web experience. This integrates delivery, acceleration, and optimisation technologies and enables real-time web experience optimisation based upon the requirements of any given and unique situation.
If a company is not optimising its site for a specific context, whether it is the user’s device, location, or intent, it is at a disadvantage to its competitors and risks a loss of revenue.
At the same time, as more content moves to the cloud and paid video streaming becomes a significant revenue generator, there will be many more attempts to subvert those streams through:
Link Sharing – Unauthorised users obtaining access to premium/paid content and bypassing a content publisher’s business model.
Deep Linking – A hacker decompiles a media player and posts the hidden links on his own site to monetise the content.
Player Hijacking - Theft of a media player, followed by copying it to a different website, thereby bypassing attributions to the origin site.
Stream Ripping - Theft of the actual content from a stream while it is being delivered to client systems.
Stealing from Cache – Theft of the content from a browser, media player cache or disk.
Content Tampering - Modification of the actual content such as replacing or injecting unwanted advertisements into a video stream.
The ability to protect online content from unauthorised use and redistribution while distinguishing attacks from legitimate flash crowds brought in by marketing strategies will increasingly be a digital imperative.
Massively-distributed, cloud-based security controls will gain traction The number of DDoS attacks will continue to rise because they are becoming easier to execute.
The attack surface has increased, the attack methods have evolved, and, unknown to them, the Internet of Things devices that are coming online are being targeted to propagate botnets, while defences that are static are easily bypassed.
Also, trusted connections can now serve as a back-channel for attacks and supply chain and third parties will be increasingly more targeted by attacks, which makes a network- centric security approach inadequate.
In Asia Pacific Japan specifically, we have seen regular attacks in a form of:
-Account checkers performing log-in abuses
-Domain and DNS hijackings -Active scrapers and bots
-Hacktivists -Defacements and cross-site scripting
This is the age of the elastic network — a concept where security policies are contextually aware and data-centric and are delivered beyond your network boundary, and we expect this concept to resonate strongly with organisations in the coming year.
A massively distributed, cloud-based defence with security controls and defences that are aligned with, and closer to, the resources that organisations wish to protect, is an imperative in today’s high-threat environment.
Akamai is a critical component in ensuring great and safe Web experiences. As we wind down 2014 and head into 2015, I wish all consumers and businesses in the region a fast and safe online experience. Happy New Year to all!
Rick Lanman is the regional manager of Akamai Technologies, Asean.