5 December 2023

Why interconnection platforms are a simple solution to secure your critical data flows

Building connectivity cost security

Business demand for digital services and applications continues to accelerate. Global spending related to digital transformation is expected to reach 3.4 trillion USD by 2026, up from 1.6 trillion USD in 2022.

This ongoing digital transformation is accompanied by a continual increase in the size and complexity of networks, as well as a surge in the volumes of data traffic flowing through them. At DE-CIX we experienced a 25% increase in total traffic volume last year, with more than 48 exabytes of data throughput globally.

And rising data flows across increasingly complex networks inevitably means a higher risk of security incidents and data breaches – both malicious and accidental – especially when data is in transit across the public Internet.

Cyber attacks are on the rise 

Businesses face a continuous battle against a rising tide of cyber attacks that threaten the continuity of their operations. According to Check Point data, global attacks increased by 7% in the first quarter of this year versus the same time last year, with organizations facing an average of 1,248 attacks each week.

Of course the nature and severity of these incidents varies greatly. For instance, one in every 31 organizations worldwide experienced a weekly ransomware attack. And the threat landscape continues to change, especially with AI tools like ChatGPT being used to more quickly and easily write complex code that perpetrators can use.

While the volume of attacks has only risen marginally, we have witnessed several sophisticated campaigns from cybercriminals who are finding ways to weaponize legitimate tools for malicious gains.”
Check Point Research*

Every industry needs to be aware of the growing risks and to protect their networks, but the sectors currently experiencing the highest rates of cyber attacks are education and government, including military. There’s also been a significant increase in attacks on businesses in the healthcare and retail sectors. While this situation sounds bleak, the majority of cyber attacks can be prevented, with no disruption to business operations, if the right technologies are in place.

Data breaches are commonplace

Data breaches resulting from either malicious cyber attacks or accidental errors now appear to be a feature of the digital landscape. More than six million data records were exposed through data breaches worldwide during the first quarter of 2023.

The average total cost of a breach is also increasing, reaching a high of 4.45 million USD this year according to an IBM report. The report reveals 82% of breaches involved data stored in the cloud, and that the five industries with the costliest data breaches were healthcare, financial, pharmaceutical, energy, and industrial.

Of course the cost of a data breach isn’t just monetary, it can have a significant impact on business reputation and customer trust. And each sector has its own specific concerns around data breaches.

  • Financial services organizations need to be able to share data across internal departments, with specific partners, and with technology vendors, to make the most of opportunities for their customers. But they need to balance these opportunities with the risk of sharing sensitive information. This includes loan account numbers and credit or debit card details, as well as non-financial personally identifiable information that could enable identity theft and financial fraud.
  • Healthcare organizations often need to share data for patient diagnosis, which in some cases may be life saving. Data is also shared to improve healthcare and advance medical research, for example to monitor the long-term safety and efficiency of different treatments, and identify any side effects as quickly as possible. However, sharing patient data has inherent risks, especially where it relates to sensitive medical conditions. People are often concerned that their medical data might lead to reputational damage or discrimination if details of certain conditions are disclosed.
  • Industrial organizations increasingly rely on automation and advanced technologies that require them to share data with a range of suppliers, partners, and customers.If that data is breached, it could give their competitors an unfair advantage, which could have a dramatic impact on profitability. Data about product design could also be damaging if it falls into the wrong hands. Design data from the defense sector or the automotive industry could enable products to be hijacked or technically manipulated, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Interconnection platforms secure data flows

With the threat landscape unlikely to improve any time soon, businesses need to take control of network infrastructure, secure critical data pathways, and guard against data leaks or cyber attacks. Interconnection platforms such as Internet Exchanges and Cloud Exchanges can protect organizations from data breaches and cyber security threats in two key ways:

1. Short direct pathways

When data takes long, complex, and often unpredictable routes through the public Internet, there are inevitable weak points that can increase the risk of a data leak or a cyber attack. Interconnection platforms allow businesses to control the path of critical data and ensure it flows via short direct pathways.

This might mean connecting directly and redundantly to the applications and networks business rely on through peering at an Internet Exchange. Alternatively it might mean taking advantage of direct and secure connections to and between cloud environments at a Cloud Exchange. Either way, by removing hops and gaining clarity into data flows, the risk of data breaches and cyber attacks is greatly reduced.

2. Built-in security features

Interconnection platforms also have built-in security features that protect entire pathways. This is particularly beneficial for businesses as they don’t need to secure every individual connection, which can have a knock-on impact on performance.

A couple of examples of security threats that interconnection platforms protect against include:

IP hijacking: IP hijacking occurs when the web traffic going to a particular IP destination is intercepted, usually intentionally but sometimes by accident. This traffic might be rerouted to another destination, or it could be passed on to its intended destination once certain pieces of data – perhaps credit card details – have been accessed. Interconnection platforms can effectively shield networks from IP hijacking using Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) origins validation, and Internet Routing Registries (IRR) filtering.  

DDoS attacks: Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks disrupt business operations by overwhelming networks with a flood of Internet traffic. Interconnection platforms can deal with this situation using blackholing, which stops traffic being sent to an IP address while it is under attack, although this is still disruptive to business operations. A more advanced form of blackholing can be used to just block specific traffic, allowing you to inspect a portion of the traffic while protecting your infrastructure from congestion at the same time. 

Security is just one element of robust connectivity

While network security is essential to protect your business from disruption, it’s only one of the elements you need to create the robust digital infrastructure your business needs. Check out our guide Building connectivity for the world of tomorrow to learn more about how interconnection platforms enable capacity, speed, reliability, and cost effectiveness, as well as security, to transform your digital infrastructure and support your business long into the future.