How Akamai's Chief Security Officer Secures Millions [VIDEO]

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Akamai operates one of the world's largest content delivery networks, providing secure delivery of information to millions of end users. Making sure that data remains secure is the job of Chief Security Officer Andy Ellis.

In a video interview with eSecurity Planet, Ellis explained his role at Akamai, which includes the protection of Akamai's customers as well as the Akamai platform itself.

From a technology perspective, Akamai has a security advantage that few others in the world enjoy. Akamai's network of over 120,000 servers can handle massive volumes of traffic, up to 10 terabits per second of data on a normal day.

"We have the ability to absorb attacks that would otherwise cripple an infrastructure," Ellis said.

Akamai's broad footprint also means the company sees approximately 30 percent of all the traffic on the Web, which enables Akamai to perform sophisticated analytics. The analytics can be used for correlation across the platform to provide better protection for the company's customers.

More than DDoS

While Akamai is able to withstand massive DDoS attacks, there is a provision to handle more common Web application attacks as well. Akamai recently updated its Kona Web Application Firewall (WAF), which provides application-level protection against attacks.

"The idea is that adversaries are clearly moving up the stack, so we provide defenses that are as close to the adversary as we can get," Ellis said.

Big Data Analytics

Akamai uses a number of different Big Data type back-ends to help deliver security analytics. One of them was built by Akamai on its own, as a real-time telemetry monitoring system that leverages the company's home-grown Query database.

"It's a distributed write, centralized read database," Ellis explained. "What it really lets us do is, each server can continuously write data in, then the aggregation nodes will prune out data and it gives us real time visibility into what's going on around our network."

CSO Challenges

As chief security officer, Ellis faces no shortage of challenges. As a service provider, one of the biggest issues he deals with is legacy technology support.

"Often times you have customers that really like a legacy service that has security issues, that you'd like to move them off of it," Ellis said. "It's not like being a software provider where you can just ship a patch and it's up to other people to implement it; you actually have to do the implementation for them as well."

Watch the video interview with Akamai Chief Security Officer Andy Ellis below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.