Last week, PCMag Online reported that MasterCard had an outage. Some signs pointed to it being a hack in retaliation for its action blocking WikiLeaks’ accounts last December, but MasterCard reported it was a good old-fashioned service provider problem.
If that’s the case, it’s fair to say it’s not alone. You could be experiencing problems on your system too, and finding ways to understand the nature of the problem is the sweet spot of web site monitoring software in general, regardless of whose it is.
Any problem is likely to be found in one of three places. It might be an end user environment including the device–whether that’s a PC, phone or tablet. It could be a network problem or it could be a data center problem.
In the case of the MasterCard outage, the external network connection to the Internet provider was breaking down at the provider level. According to the PCMag story, this resulted in “intermittent service disruption.” It’s hard to know how that affected visitors to the site overall, but it’s clear it had an impact on at least some of them as they tried to visit the site and found that it was down.
According to a story on the KWWL.com web site, MasterCard was being tight-lipped about the exact nature of the problem, so it’s hard to know what happened, but the important take-away here is that if it could happen to MasterCard, it can happen to you and you need to be ready.
One way to do that is to keep a close eye on the different systems that keep your web site up and running. To the extent that it’s possible, by monitoring the different systems, you can see which parts of the system are operating as they should be and which are bogging down.
This might not help you prevent a problem like the one MasterCard had, but it can give you valuable insight into the nature of the issue. Once you have ascertained that the problem is on one of your service providers, you can begin to work with them to get the service back up and running as quickly possible.
If it turned out that the trouble was internal, you could track it down and begin to implement whatever systems your company has established to deal with these types of issues. If it’s an external attack, obviously you would need to get your security team involved.
While it’s easy to think that every slow-down and outage is external, especially when a company like MasterCard is involved, chances are better that there is an identifiable problem in front of you that has nothing to do with a revenge-seeking groups of hackers.
The trick is to have systems in place that can help you identify where the snag is and then find ways to fix it. And web site monitoring software should definitely be part of the tool kit that helps you do that.