How Fragile is our digital world

TODAY we heard that the BBC’s main web site and iPlayer were down for approximately 2hours last night. Yesterday we heard that over 7 million O2 Customers suffered a major outage due to a network glitch?

Recently there have been major outages at Natwest Bank, Blackberry and not so long back Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked.
The fact is that modern IT systems run our lives and these major global systems are very often a mystery to all but a few elite IT geniuses. Even those with extensive IT knowledge often cannot sort issues out because the security surrounding these systems is so tight that only ‘the elite’ are allowed past security.

Equally, modern systems are such a complex array of hardware and software working in tandem (often in many global locations) that it’s unsurprising that outages happen. The knowledge (and skill) in keeping all of this held together often falls on a few people who buckle under the strain. The public’s constant demand for increased power, speed and new features mean that the number of outages can only increase as system become even more complex and the time given to develop and test them properly is constantly eroded by the expectations of an ever-demanding audience.

Criminal gangs now run their own ’elite’ IT teams and can make £millions overnight without even moving from their seats. No longer are IT systems just vulnerable to attack from the odd geek in the far east who writes a virus because he can do – these days companies systems are targeted specifically by criminals who have the ability to constantly alter their attacks to expose vulnerabilities.
So if your mobile network goes off for a few hours or you can’t access your on-line bank account – give a thought to the poor guys trying the hardest to fix it and give them time to fix the problem properly. No IT system will be available 100% and we are a damn site better off nowadays than we ever used to be – just remember what the world was like before computers ran it for us.