Increasing Solar Storms Are Putting Your Data at Risk

FRESNO, California – Cody Sarhan, Communications Specialist

Over the past few months, there’s been a high increase in solar activity that has drastically interrupted communications and technologies here on Earth. On July 19th, Dr. Tamitha Skov — who has worked with NASA and The Weather Channel — reported on a solar flare that impacted the Earth-strike zone, causing radio blackouts and GPS disruptions for several hours on many parts of the planet as it interacted with Earth’s magnetic field. 

“Direct hit! A snake-like filament launched as a big #solarstorm while in the Earth-strike zone…” — Dr. Tamitha Skov, Space Weather Physicist

This is not the first time this has happened of course, not even the first time this year. In April and May, Live Science reported that two solar flares caused R3 blackouts over the Atlantic Ocean, Australia, and Asia. This has been an increasing occurrence, and astronomers expect that it’s only going to get worse. Sunspot AR3038, as it’s known, is a massive solar eruption that astronomers have been watching for the past few weeks. It was expected to die off, but it’s grown three times larger and is facing the earth. If a massive solar storm hit us today, like the one in 1989, then scientists warn us that it could cause trillions of dollars in damage and trigger widespread blackouts.

Protect Your Data

These solar eruptions can cause massive geomagnetic storms that can be crippling to our technologies and infrastructure. SpaceX reported in February that they lost 40 Starlink satellites as a result of a geomagnetic storm, and Live Science reports that the next solar storm could send our world into an internet apocalypse that “keeps large swaths of society offline for weeks or months at a time”.

Magnetic lines of force surrounding Earth known as the magnetosphere deflecting solar wind and radiation from the Sun. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

Move your data off-site in the event of a catastrophic event like a geomagnetic storm. We at Xobee built our cloud on state-of-the-art technologies. We remove on-site servers and infrastructure, so your data is protected with us in the event that you lose everything. Your cloud servers reside in our server clusters in our Level 3 data centers. Our infrastructure runs on ECC memory, enterprise tiered storage, redundant power, and redundant data from end to end. This cost-effective at-rest backup solution requires no additional onsite hardware and utilizes your existing Veeam installation. In as little as ten minutes, your business can be on its way towards being protected against solar threats, and others. 

Secure Off-Site, In Case You Go Offline

The scariest part about all of this is that we really have no safeguards in place to prevent this from happening or to deal with it effectively. Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine wrote in her research paper, “A disruption lasting even a few minutes can lead to huge losses for service providers and damages in cyber-physical systems.”

“What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was. There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it’s the same with internet resilience.” — Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi

Events like the coronavirus pandemic are known as “black swan events” an unpredictable catastrophic event with severe and widespread consequence, that are often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Abdu Jyothi goes on to say that Internet researchers and operators are “mostly blind to another black swan event that poses a direct threat to Internet infrastructure.”  She notes that this black swan event is something that the scientific community is generally aware of, with predictive modeling efforts and precautionary measures such as power grids. However, she goes on to detail that the networking community has largely overlooked this vulnerability during the design of network topology and geo-distributed systems such as DNS and data centers. This means that even if power returns in hours or days, mass internet outages can persist for weeks or months at a time.

“Nations at high latitudes — such as the U.S. and the U.K. — are far more susceptible to solar weather than nations at lower latitudes. In the event of a catastrophic geomagnetic storm, it’s those high-latitude nations that are most likely to be cut off from the network first.”  Brandon Specktor, Senior Writer, Live Science

The Microsoft Azure Global Network

What Can You Do?

The short answer: BE PREPARED. This is not over. Solar activity rises and falls in 11-year cycles. This is something that astronomers have observed, studied, and documented for centuries. We’re currently in year 2 of that 11-year cycle, and the sun’s solar activity is only going to get stronger until it reaches its peak in 2025 (known as solar maximum) at which point it will start to fall again. So, while we might not have a protocol for how to handle these events when they occur, we can certainly predict them and prepare for them. 

What that means for you is to not just back up your data, but protect your data. Safeguard your assets in the event of a total blackout or loss of infrastructure. We here at Xobee can help you with that. Feel secure knowing your off-site data is stored on an enterprise-grade NetApp storage system. Our scalable cloud server hosting is able to provide infrastructure for one user or 10,000 users, and we take the complexity and cost out of deploying a secure off-site backup and disaster recovery solution for any and all of your data.  You don’t want to be caught off-guard and feel like you could have done something when the next solar eruption strikes Earth’s magnetic field. So secure and backup your data with us and get peace of mind knowing that you’re in safe hands with the #1 voted MSP in California.

Cody Sarhan | Communications Specialist, Xobee Networks

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