Will Apple, Xbox One, And PS4 ‘Break’ The Internet?

Slow Internet

We can’t know what we don’t know. Today, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) plan for spikes in traffic, some caused by new software or hardware launches just demanding enough spectrum to cope with the expected demand from web users.

Our dependence on the internet and reliable network speeds has radically increased as we use more mobile devices. In the UK alone, it is predicted we will use over 800 Petabytes per month in 2016! That is approximately enough to store all data on Facebook eight times over. That’s a lot of selfies and cat videos.

Whilst known events can be planned for, how do businesses, non-profit organisations and network providers prepare for unknown events? Estimating the impact of events such as natural disasters on network traffic is a challenge. Given our fast-paced world, operators have their work cut out.

PS4, Xbox One Launch

Even known events can take ISPs by surprise. For example, the impact on the release of iOS 7 last September disrupted the internet experience for Apple and non-Apple fans. Based on my company’s data from its global customers, in the five days following the release of the iOS update, customers saw a 265 percent increase in Apple.com traffic compared to the five days before.

The Internet is not as ‘unlimited’ as you see in the adverts; it is finite and limited by how much the pipes can carry at a certain time. But the ISPs know this – so what’s the problem?

Look back to November 2013—a month that will likely go down in history as the ‘Launch of next-generation gaming’ as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released within weeks of each other. This next generation of gaming is fuelled more than ever by the Internet, whether hosting online gaming or players downloading new games directly from the publisher.

Users of PS4 and Xbox One must download ‘Day One’ patches of 500MB to operate the machine from Sony and Microsoft servers. This additional traffic caused by extra streaming of content will affect the online experience of gamers and non-gamers.

As this trend continues, the underpinnings of the web will continue to shake under the weight of this content explosion. Customers will be forced to add additional bandwidth, move to metered Internet plans or regulate “super users” (a proposition that is becoming more difficult as the web shifts to large files, making all users “super users”).

The only thing that can disrupt this cycle of bandwidth and bust is a shock absorber that can embrace spikes caused by global event. Caching is an answer to store web content and make it easier for web users to download or stream without hindering overall internet performance.

Cyber Security Is About Managing The Unknown

The words ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ can also apply to the current topic of cyber security. There is a lot of unknown malware phishing for data on the Internet. Some malware could have entered the corporate network, endangering customer data and business reputation.

Cyber-crime cost UK businesses £3 million this year and the best approach is to be proactive and for the entire business to communicate the biggest risks they face. Currently, we see businesses divided by departmental silos and do not have the methods to share intelligence in a real-time fashion.

Whether it planning for spikes on web traffic or preventing cyber security breaches, businesses have a duty to their customers and reputation to seek out what the unknowns are. Smart enterprises are the ones who regularly check their network resources to see if they have enough to cope if an unknown event ever occurs. If you want to take your business to the next level, think about using technology that optimises your network, so if a traffic jam happens, software can move the workload to less busy routes.

James Stevenson

James Stevenson is the EMEA Security Director for Blue Coat Advanced Threat Protection Group, assisting customers to rapidly detect, analyse and remediate advanced threats to achieve a strong post-breach security posture. Prior to this role he was responsible for the delivery of Security Intelligence solutions across EMEA for Government and Commercial clients and has 11 years experience around intrusion detection, network forensics and threat analysis. He has a strong SOC operations background gained from his position as Senior Security Analyst and Team Lead at Symantec's EMEA Security Operations Centre and holds a Bachelor's in Business Information Technology.