Earlier this week, millions of customers of Swedish firm Telia, a leading telco in the Nordics and across Europe, reported connectivity issues, with mobile apps such as WhatsApp and websites. The problem was so severe that the initial diagnosis was that a transatlantic cable had been severed or damaged.
However, after much frantic investigation, it transpired that the outage was actually caused by a Telia engineer misconfiguring a router, resulting in all web traffic bound for Europe being sent to Hong Kong and causing a massive internet outage. In other words it was caused by a manual change! The company quickly fixed the problem, but the knock-on effect was significant: countless services and websites relying on the network experienced problems, causing a wave of complaints from users.
The incident is a reminder that even the slightest change or error in configuring security policies can have a significant impact on the business. While most changes will not cause any problems, since they’re normally allowing additional traffic or stopping traffic to applications no longer in use, whenever you make a change manually mistakes will inevitably happen through simple human error. While some of these mistakes have little impact, others can have sever damaging consequences for your business.
In fact, the majority of business downtime is caused by trivial technical faults rather than sophisticated cyberattacks, yet organizations seem to devote far more resources to preventing the latter. Indeed, our 2016 State of Automation survey found that 48% or organizations had experienced a network outage resulting from a manual change process.
So what can you do to prevent these types outages? The simple answer is more automation. The less human input you have in your IT processes – especially when it comes to ‘grunt’ work and repetitive, daily tasks – the less likely it is that mistakes will occur. You can find out more about how automation can reduce outages here.
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