Spike in ‘recreational traffic’ as employees use corporate bandwidth to check out games
Some tips on how businesses can prepare for traffic spikes in the months of June and July
THIS week, the world will celebrate the start of the planet’s most popular game with the 2014 FIFA World Cup! Four years ago, close to half of the world’s population watched the World Cup in South Africa with an approximately more than 188 million viewers for each of the 64 matches.
This year’s World Cup 2014, which will kick off in Brazil on June 12, will be an even bigger event, especially as the Internet has become even more encompassing over the past four years, with more channels and devices multiplying viewership.
The rise in social media (#WorldCup) will undoubtedly set new viewing records on personal and business networks, and will undoubtedly cause a historical increase in Internet traffic across the world’s data networks.
Dramatic spike in broadband traffic
Given the popularity of the World Cup on a global basis, Malaysian businesses actually need to get ready for the dramatic increase in bandwidth usage when the games are played over the six-week period, as a precaution against possible blows to their corporate networks.
Taking into consideration the time difference between Malaysia and Brazil, it is easily predicted that local football fans will download gameplay during office hours – thus driving up the Internet traffic due to the replay and streaming of video-on-demand and texting traffic.
These days, companies can’t just worry about computers slowing down their bandwidth. Employees are pulling recreational traffic onto business networks by using mobile devices. This will inevitably lead to even lower bandwidth available for business applications, further leading to unresponsive applications and an increase of complaints on network performance.
The biggest network disruptions are often caused by unpredictable events, so we are in fact fortunate to know in advance the exacting timing of the World Cup. Businesses should indeed get prepared now with a plan to manage this foreseeable spike in Internet traffic in the months of June and July 2014, instead of just hoping that their networks will be able to cope.
Some tips in formulating this plan:
Identify: Businesses will require visibility into their applications and network traffic in order to identify and separate important business traffic from non-critical or recreational traffic. Prioritise these accordingly to fit your specific business’ needs.
Align: Simple Quality-of-service (QoS) policies can protect critical business application performance and limit recreational traffic to 10% or less of network capacity.
Expedite: Caching content will reduce the impact of recreational video downloads and uploads while improving the performance of core business applications that drive your business operations.
You have already invested a lot of time and money on bandwidth, so take action to protect this investment by matching your bandwidth allocation with your business priorities.
Safeguard against football fraud
In addition, Malaysian companies need to be aware of that the World Cup opens up many opportunities for online fraud such as phishing. Internet traffic driven by the World Cup is a tremendous vehicle for fraudsters to carry out their activities in stealing identity and credential data, commit financial information theft, and add your device to their botnet army to be controlled at will.
While there is no anti-phishing panacea that can mitigate all threats, companies should apply both technical and non-technical controls that include reminding their employees to:
Verify before you click, download and open;
Use bookmarks instead of allowing direct click to links;
Don’t respond to emails with sensitive data; and
Keep your operating systems and applications patched and up to date
All of these are little yet important steps that can collectively reduce the risk of phishing attacks and other security threats on your corporate network.
The World Cup will drive a flood of Internet data onto the business network that is connected to hundreds of laptops, tablets and smartphones, from all points and directions. It is important not to get so caught up in the moment and forget that criminals are working overtime. By putting in place some safeguards, you can help mitigate phishing attacks.
Many companies struggle in striking a balance between keeping their employees happy during much anticipated events, such as the World Cup, and trying to maintain high business performance and efficiency.
By planning ahead, you can find the happy medium so everyone can break out the vuvuzelas for a victory celebration.
Ivan Wen is the country manager of Blue Coat Systems Malaysia
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