Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cyberattacks Can Harm And Website Monitoring Can Benefit Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Cyberattacks have crippled the Web sites of several major American and South Korean government agencies since the July 4th holiday (U.S.) weekend.

The Washington Post , which also came under attack, reported on its Web site today that a total of 26 Web sites were targeted. In addition to sites run by government agencies, several commercial Web sites were also attacked, including those operated by Nasdaq, it reported, citing researchers involved in the investigation.

Authorities suspected that the hackers used a new variant of the denial-of-service (DoS) program to attack the Web sites. A denial-of-service attack is one in which an attack, sometimes from a single source, overwhelms a target computer with messages, denying access to legitimate users without actually having to compromise the targeted computer. Although frequently intentional, a DoS can also occur unintentionally through a misconfigured system.

In several of my prior posts, I discussed the [national and international] push toward a system of interconnected Electronic Health Records (EHR) networks. This system, like those cited in today's media reports, depends on the availability of well performing Web sites.

An Associated Press article in today's newspapers refers to Keynote Systems, a company that monitors such events, so I decided to look into their services. I had written on other aspects of this subject in the article Capacity and Disaster Recovery Planning for an Internet Connection to which I link in my bibliography at the very bottom of this blog.

Keynote Systems is a mobile and Web site monitoring company based in San Mateo, Calif. The company publishes data detailing outages on Web sites, including 40 government sites it watches.

Managing a single Web application with thousands of users typically requires a system administrator and a few support personnel, at a cost of up to $30,000 per month. About 20% of this cost, or about $6,000 per month or $72,000 per year, is spent on monitoring the reliability and availability of these services. Keynote Systems’ services to monitor URLs start at $100 per month or $1,200 per year -- the cost savings to an operations team can be significant.

Keynote Systems’ test and measurement products and services are driven by a global network of more than 2,600 measurement computers and mobile devices in more than 240 locations in 160 metropolitan areas around the world -- the largest on-demand test and measurement network in the world. Users know precisely how Web sites, content, applications, and services will perform on mobile networks and devices -- all with hard metrics that test precise behavior patterns and more accurately predict performance problems.

Test and measurement products and services deliver in-depth, relevant KPIs (a subject which I discuss in my article cited above) that are easily understood and accurately represent what happens in the real world -- using real browsers and real devices. The economic gains provided by using Keynote Systems’ network are upfront -- using Keynote Systems does not require an increase in capital expenses.

Their Web site offers a free evaluation of their software-as-a-service (SaaS) and downloadable software products. While I don't recommend that you immediately send them or any other like organization a check, I do think you should know about what they have to offer.