That’s Christmas all Warped Up!

Bosphorus Bridge

Did you know Warp Universal has provided reliable, speedy web hosting for its customers for over 12 years?  In that time, we have ensured our high-performance, fault-tolerant servers have stayed online, 24/7, to provide you with a rock-solid service.

But in that time, also, consumer and business broadband speeds have increased 200-400x!  From 500 kilobit-per-second connections in 2004, we now commonly see connections ranging from 50 to 200 megabits-per-second!

Upgrading our Infrastructure – 1 gigabit per second coming today!

Warp Universal has maintained a high-quality hosting presence since taking on colocation space in 2009.   We manage our own servers, apply security patches and monitor the health of all hardware at all times.

But every so often, the needs of businesses leapfrog a gradual upgrade path.   We are pleased to be automatically upgrading our network infrastructure to support 1000 megabit-per-second synchronous connections to our servers.  To this end, we are today upgrading our network speed to and from our rack servers to 1Gb/s.

Speed Gains = Noticeable Results

With this upgrade in speed comes tangible benefits in business communication.  Emails will travel at 10x the speed between similarly-connected servers across the internet.  Web sites will load noticeably faster in user’s browsers, whether viewing over WiFi, 4G/LTE or fixed-cable broadband.

All users will benefit from the new 1Gb/s link.

Business owners hosting websites with us will also gain.  Speed matters when it comes to page ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs), so with this increase in speed comes an increase in likelihood that those web pages will rank more highly and be viewed more often as a result.

Keeping Secure

With all advances in technology, there are also increased risks.  With internet-connected devices, an element of risk is always present.  With this in mind, we are taking additional steps to secure our network operations and provide extra resilience to cyber threats – both technical and social.

 

If you have any questions about this upgrade, let us know in the comments below.  We can also be reached at support@warpuni.com if your question is sensitive.

For more information on this upgrade, see the related Status post.

Managing your data after the EU ‘Safe Harbor’ ruling

Since 6 October 2015, when the European Court of Justice ruled that ‘Safe Harbor’ offered an “inadequate” level of protection for EU citizens’ personal data, organisations within the EU have found themselves in the strange position of having to strongly – and quickly – reconsider their cloud strategy.

Empty chair and desk in storage unit. Src: https://flic.kr/p/MehU3. Published under licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Changing your practices can feel exposing and lonely.(img: “your office is ready” by recoverling, CC-By 2.0)

Background

Safe Harbor was an agreement set up before ‘9/11’ (the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, 11 Sep 2001).  The principle of the agreement was well-meant: it aimed to ensure that EU citizens enjoyed the same level of data protection required by law within the EU, even when their data was stored outside of the EU, specifically by organisations on US soil.

Not everything was great about ‘Safe Harbor’, though.  For some years, organisations claiming to be applying safe harbor principles to their data protection practices were not investigated.  Despite the agreement going into force November 2000, investigations by the US Federal Trade Commission into the application of adequate safeguards by US organisations only commenced, in earnest, around 2007.

Between 2007 and mid-2013, various other concerns started growing in relation to ‘Safe Harbor’, the largest and most obvious being that organisations registered under the scheme were self-certifying, meaning that data mishandling could potentially occur without discovery or punitive measures being brought.  Despite the FTC attempting to “show face” with a new round of investigations, the whole arrangement seemed to leave a general unease in its wake.

Max Schrems vs Facebook, and the EUCJ ruling

The case which gave rise to the EUCJ’s ruling was initiated by Max Schrems, an Austrian post-graduate & PhD law student.  Schrems took Facebook to court, alleging that it was breaching privacy laws (e.g. the Data Protection Act) because it could not guarantee or prove that it could adequately safeguard that his personal data – especially in light of the Snowden revelations.

The revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 woke the world up to the threat to data privacy, but not by malicious criminals or scheming corporations.  Instead, the threat of access to private data was from central governments and their respective security agencies.  Due to the geographic position, economic relationships and investment programs of the offending countries (the United Kingdom, and the United States of America), an enormous amount of (often unencrypted) internet data passed through fibre-optic cables between these two countries.

Snowden’s revelations gave little room for doubt that, despite everyone’s worst fears, the scale and number of programs operated by those security agencies were greater, larger and much more comprehensive than ever suspected.  To paraphrase a well-known free software advocate, “while we all thought we were being a little paranoid, it turns that that we were not being nearly paranoid enough”.

In Schrems’ case, the EUCJ ruling was forseen as the only feasible outcome the court could rule.  The Register published a useful article encapsulating this, in Understand Safe Harbor in Schems vs Facebook in under 300 words.

To quote from that article:

‘Safe Harbor’ is unsafe because such agencies in the USA can access personal data without due process, and because the US has no law that limits the use of personal data by them.

Fallout

If ‘Safe Harbor’ cannot be made “safe” by Jan 31 2016, there is no option but to site one’s data within the EU.  Potentially, even if you only store non-personal, identifying information about people in the US or elsewhere, but the individual concerned has also stored related or linked data about themselves also using web service such as Facebook, a connection can still made between these two sets of data that can potentially implicate your business as an associate of that individual.

Who this affects

Any organisation or entity operating within the EU and which is subject to the provisions of its relevant data protection legislation.   This means any organisation or legal entity, including an individual, who records personally identifiable information on individuals.

What to do now?

The conclusion to this article (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/13/us_still_pushing_safe_harbour_despite_eu_court_ruling/) cites German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht as stating, “the US […] must change and deliver on essentially equivalent data protection in their legal system, including for EU citizens.”

Despite EU-US negotaitors reputedly working to secure a new agreement, it is not likely that changes to US law will be written into the constitution quickly enough, in a way that allows US-based cloud service providers the opportunity to implement the changes within the 31 Jan 2016 deadline – and in a way that doesn’t implicate the NSA in its mass-surveillance programs.  Recent moves by Oracle and Microsoft, both refocusing their efforts by hosting EU-related data within Europe, further reinforce the view that the US no longer offers a “safe harbour” for EU data (nor US-based data storage service providers, for that matter).  A recent story on ArsTechnica also argues that the collapse of EU-US data interchange is nearing.

Naturally, the only safe approach is to seek an EU-based operator, and migrate data to its services – rather than risk prosecution by whichever Data Protection enforcement agency is tasked with the enforcement.  For the UK, this is the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Speak to us

If you are unsure about your storage needs, seek advice about best computer or internet security practices, or seek other advice in this context, contact us today.  We will be happy to discuss your needs in an impartial and informal way that you can understand.

If you have noticed any errors or irregularities in the above article, please get in touch.

Further Reading

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/ramasastry/20091117.html

https://iapp.org/news/a/safe-harbors-in-trouble-unless-you-ask-the-u.s

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/safe-harbor-unnecessary-unfair-unconstitutional-62013642.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/brussels/2015/10/22/max-schrems-who-torpedoed-safe-harbor-1-sees-no-safe-harbor-2/

https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2015/10/ico-response-to-ecj-ruling-on-personal-data-to-us-safe-harbor/

http://www.darkreading.com/risk/what-the-eus-safe-harbor-ruling-means-for-data-privacy-in-the-cloud/a/d-id/1322512

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/06/safe_harbour_aftermath_schrems_eu_us_data_sharing/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/business/international/behind-the-european-privacy-ruling-thats-confounding-silicon-valley.html

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/31/ico_advice_us_data_transfer_safe_harbor_ruling/

http://venturebeat.com/2015/10/11/the-real-impact-of-the-safe-harbor-ruling/

http://arstechnica.co.uk/tech-policy/2015/11/safe-harbour-2-0-framework-begins-to-capsize-as-january-deadline-nears/

Warp@14. Happy Birthday to us!

Warp Universal is 14 today! (See footer for photo copyright information)
Warp Universal is 14 today! (See footer for photo copyright information)

Living as a teenager today: Warp Universal at 14.

On 16 November 2001, Warp Universal – then named Cubus – set out on a journey.  It didn’t know what journey it was setting out on, and its founders quite rightly had their own perspectives on what made a business tick.

Forward the clock 14 years, and Warp is still present and able, having adapted to a mobile world and building future solutions for its valued customers.  But what of the changes from then to now?

2001-2007

Back in the immediate post-millenium era, as a company of 3 staff, we were focused on various streams of activity.  Much of our time was spent providing software testing expertise, along with the development of Excel-based reports – typically for organisations connected with public sector services.  Alongside this, however, was a steady and sure stream of web development work – much of it back-end (PHP/MySQL).

2008-2013

The recession years proved challenging for the business.  With dedicated focus on web development, and by adding hosting to the mix, we trimmed down the breadth of services provided and focused on what we valued most:  developing great information delivery solutions for clients, using robust software and systems.  It was clear that the web was back on course for amazing things.   The trend towards cloud services, software development frameworks and the emergence, not-to-mention widespread adoption of a standards-based, accessible and semantic web has brought vibrancy and propelled creativity to new heights on the web.

2014-present

We now operate in an age of maturing software environments and practices.  Along with sharing inspiration with fellow web developers online, we try to contribute where possible to the broader issues surrounding participation and digital citizenship in the modern era.

The world we share is a tremendously dynamic but sometimes overwhelming place.  Warp Universal exists to help people engage in modern life using safe and trusted means, whether through the web, or via other digital methods.  We are grateful to our clients and for the opportunities we have had, and hope to build upon that trust with deeper and more meaningful interactions to come.

To talk with us about your needs, please visit our contact page.

Cake image (c) Scott McLeod (src: https://flic.kr/p/bi311c), under CC-BY 2.0 licence.

 

Introducing the customer portal

We are pleased to introduce the immediate availability of our new customer support portal.

The portal, which you can get to via https://portal.warpuni.com, will allow Warp Universal to more quickly and comprehensively support customers if they encounter issues.

You can also find the portal by simply visiting https://warpuni.com and browsing the help & support menu (or page).  There is also a handy guide to portal usage in our FAQ.

Main features of the portal include:

  • Automated emails for when support tickets are updated;
  • Access to a knowledge base for faster resolution of common issues;
  • Links to documents which are related to the customer;
  • Information on which project Warp Universal classifies your business under;
  • A list of assets which are tracked, in order to assist with fault reporting and service warranties.

Access for customers

Log-ins will be provided to current customers during November 2014, as we gradually roll the system out.

Once access has been granted to a customer’s email address, they will be able to log-in to the portal to create support tickets, or simply email support@warpuni.com which will automatically create a ticket for them.

Still in Beta

You may have seen “beta” on other web sites a few years ago, before it became unfashionable again. In typical geek “style”, we eschew the latest fashions for sensible meanings instead. As such, plesae remember that the portal is still in beta, which roughly means:

  • It should be generally quite functional;
  • Layouts and styles may be subject to change;
  • There may be elements of functionality that don’t work quite as intended.

We kindly ask that you keep this in mind while using the portal, and welcome any feedback you may have.

Chat with us!

If you wish to chat with us, there are a number of ways you can get in touch!

Email is our favourite, but you can also:

Enter The GRID

Welcome to the new WarpUni blog.

Having been serving in the IT industry since 2001, we have seen considerable change in the sphere of service delivery and client expectations. There have also been considerable developments in Free desktop software, which closely tracks these developments. Since 2001, wholesale improvements in service reliability and availibility (“uptime”, as we know it in the trade) have meant the world is now exchanging more data, more of the time, all of the time. Increasingly more data is being shared in a shorter period, and this trend is accelerating.

Growth Rate of Internet Data, 2001-2012
The acceleration of global internet traffic

Thanks to the good folks at WikiPedia, the Growth Rate of Internet Data (or the “GRID”) is clearly demonstrating a trend that is not only set to continue, but continue accelerating potentially unabated.  Since we incorporated in 2001, fixed internet traffic (by fixed, this means from set locations such as home or business broadband connections, via an ISP) has exploded, from 175 petabytes per month, to over 31,000 PB/month (a petabyte is one million gigabytes, give or take).  That’s an increase of 177x or 17,700% over 12 years.

Prepare for the mobile eclipse

As staggering as current data volumes are, this is but the beginning.  Given the proliferation of “smart” mobile devices, and a growth in device ownership which surged by over half a billion units in 2013 – plus the introduction of 4G speeds, we are seeing the third age of internet communication (the first being dial-up and mainly text/images, the second being fixed access and video consumption).  That of mobility and video generation.  In 2013, according to Cisco, “a fourth-generation (4G) connection generated 14.5 times more traffic on average than a non‑4Gconnection. Although 4G connections represent only 2.9 percent of mobile connections today, they already account for 30 percent of mobile data traffic.” (http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/white_paper_c11-520862.html).  From their figures, we could boldly assert that this 30% of 1.5EB (1 exabyte = 1 petabyte x 1000) will double for every 3% of mobile devices which become 4G equipped.  To the carriers, this is undoubtedly exciting and daunting.

Welcome to Passive Information Publishing

Traffic across the fixed internet very much follows the client-server model.  It’s a model that works well in traditional data transactions between people and services.  But as the internet is emerging into an omnipresent form, with us at all times in all places, services may start becoming less about “push data” – that is, requiring fewer “blog updates”, “tweets” and other conscious forms of digital, transient-state publishing, and more about “pull data”, where people and services request updates from other people and services as and when needed.  As reliability and on-demand services increase, we can justifiably look forward to an age where we can query anything, about anyone, and receive a response directly from the bionic implants of that person.  Wearable smart devices are pushing this forward today.

Aggregating state data like global positioning (something which may be rapidly changing if one is travelling, for example), calendar events, body temperature, recent email history and even abstract ideas like business goals could become a unified state, a “uni-state”, which trusted observes may need to comprehend, even “consume”, in order to interact.

Developing your mobile internet presence

With the future in mind, it pays to be vigilant not only to the opportunities, but also to the threats.  Developing an omniscient application for others to use contains its fair share of ethical and technical challenges.  Considering the surveillance capability not only of government-approved schemes but of private entities, and the power they hold over the control of data, taking on the challenges of privacy, security and visibility in the super-intelligence age will require a new form of planning.  One that is aware of the social dimensions as much, if not more than, the technical ones.


Curious about how you can develop your internet presence, mobile or otherwise?  Contact us.