O Creating Continuity

Continuity is the control over processes to maintain access to assets in the event of corruption or failure. Common applications of this control include survivability, redundancy, and fault tolerance. Continuity is a means of providing service regardless of attacks or self-induced failures.

Denial-of-service protection in all its applicable forms has gotten great amounts of press in recent years. However, many people don't understand that continuity has always been a popular control because it can be a very visible and very applicable safety net. For example, you can safely assume that data backups and distributed file serving solutions are far more common and far more heavily invested in by companies than any other control. As we include redundancy systems, such as those for name services, mail relay, and web services, in that group, organizations use continuity controls at an even great percentage. Understanding this is necessary because often when people talk about system security they mean attacks against the system. But security is so much more than that. It is protection from attacks, yes, but also from errors and very human mistakes. Continuity is a means for protecting against those mistakes and is of much more value than the standard attack hype that plays all the time in the media.

Creating good continuity is very simple. First, map out the service or the process to visualize what is happening. Next, determine where the interaction points are both with the untrusted and "trusted" users, data sources, and networks. Finally, assure that none of those points on the untrusted side can be a single point of failure and all of the points on the trusted side are protected in case of error. Obviously you have to consider cost and focus on where you'll lose the most due to downtime.

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