The day started like most other June days in Phoenix. For Caesar, who owned a small t-shirt printing business on the outskirts of town, getting up at 6am wasn’t hard. Heading to the factory where he produced custom t-shirts wasn’t just a labour of love, it was his raison d’être (reason for being.) You see, he had started the company while still in high school as a means to support not only himself but his extended family. Over the last several years his company had grown from a modest operation running out of his parent’s garage to a significant business employing 25 of his family and friends.
Things were a bit different this early June morning, as he stepped out of his house, he noticed a potent blend of heat and humidity, a somewhat typical day for Monsoon season in Arizona. Off in the distance, he spotted thick dark gray clouds, an ominous foreboding of the events building both outside as well as online at his web store.
In a series rather unrelated events on another side of the country, 16-year-old Alexander was getting ready for school. Much like he did every morning before school, he sent a message to his several hundred thousand followers on social media. This time, he included a picture of a new t-shirt he had just received from a small custom t-shirt company.
“Digg’n the shirt. Thx @PhoenixShirtz” #uRock.
Within minutes there were 50 likes, 200 than 10,000 likes. Not bad, for a 16-year-old with 221,256 followers and a C+ in Math. For Alexander or “@Ax” as went by online, social media wasn’t just an obsession, it was a full part of his existence. He had spent the past 2 years building and cultivating a following based on his unique style and ability to spot trends before anyone else. Where other 16-year old’s hung out on the corner, AX spent his time spotting interesting fashion and sharing it with his online followers. He was an influencer in the true sense of the word. What he shared, others liked. What he liked, others bought.
As Caesar neared his office a sudden downpour erupted out of a seemly empty sky. He found himself in what metrologists referred to as a Microburst. A spectacular but very dangerous downdraft associated with violent thunderstorms such as the ones traveling across portions of the southwest US early on that June day.
Within minutes portions of Phoenix were under several feet of water. In a stroke of good fortune, Caesar’s t-shirt shop was located near a drainage ditch which collected the majority of the torrent steaming toward his business. Online, things were a different story.
A torrent of traffic was now pouring onto his website. Within moments of Ax’s social media post, Caesar was inundated with interested customers who had just discovered PhoenixShirtz. This had been the day Caesar was preparing for. He knew to be successful he needed to court the tastemakers and influencers on social media. He also knew that one big mention of his company could dramatically change his business. In preparing for this day, he had to gone and found the best, most scalable cloud hosting environments. One that could adapt based on the volume of users visiting his site. From the point of view of operating a website, everything was working perfectly. But little did he know that a few days earlier a flaw had been discovered within the lowest levels of the operating system powering his site. Almost insignificant in size, only a few lines code, but if the right technique was used, a less scrupulously user to could now gain entry into his system and secretly replace key pieces of his website.
Not only were several thousand customers now browsing the site, but a handful of more devious users had also discovered the website, but they were looking for other reasons. They were looking for ways to exploit the site’s e-commerce capabilities in the hopes of skimming user’s credit card and related person information.
For a less prepared small business things could have been very different. Within minutes everything they had been working on could have literally been wash aways.
Yet as luck would have it, the hosting provider had chosen a proactive security solution powered by Aporeto. Yes, the bad guys did get in and inflict some damage, but hosting provider was able to quickly pinpoint the time and place where things went awry. They were then able to roll back to a point before the trouble occurred, patch the exploits and allow Caesar to keep his business running, with little if any downtime. Going forward the admin enforced a policy that blocks traffic from evildoers.
The Aporeto focus is one that assumes security is a constantly evolving threat. We empower those who want to adapt to real world treats as they appear, automatically adjusting low-level permissions based on granular policy and allow its user to remain successful. This is our story.
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