Case Study Writing Instructions
Prepare a draft report of the Individual (iPremier) Case Study. Make sure to follow the Case Study Methodology. The format should include:
Be sure to include financial information within the report.
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Mr. Samuelson,
On January 12, 2018, the iPremier Company came under a DDoS attack that disrupted the operations of the company for 75 minutes. During that period, employees and customers were unable to access the site. The attack could cause a significant decline in the stock price of the company, loss of customers, and also lead to considerable reputational damage for iPremier. The response of the management team to the incident was inadequate since there was a lack of coordination in the response and inadequate preparedness for the incident. The problem identified is that the operating procedures of iPremier around disaster preparedness, response, and recovery are outdated since the company lacks a business continuity plan, disaster recovery plan, or incident response plan.
iPremier can resolve the problem by moving its computing to an internal facility. The move will improve the management of the technical infrastructure, lead to long-term cost savings and improve organizational preparedness for cybersecurity incidents.
iPremier Case Study
Summary of Facts
On January 12, 2018, the iPremier Company was the target of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack is a security violation where an attacker utilizes multiple online devices to disrupt the normal operations of a computing system (CISA, 2019). The DDoS attack targeting iPremier lasted around 75 minutes. During the attack, the website of the company was taken offline which means it could not be accessed by employees of the company as well as customers. While the DDoS attack came to an abrupt end, the company has yet to determine the source of the attack.
Bob Turley, the Chief Information Officer of iPremier, was at the center of the company’s response to the attack. As the CIO, Turley had the responsibility of ensuring that the computer systems, network, and data of the company were protected from such attacks by malicious entities. As the CIO, Turley was also expected to lead the response to the DDoS attack (Austin, 2018). At the time of the attack, Turley was away in New York for a meeting but he stayed in communication with other key members of the organization during the attack. Joanne Ripley, the technical operations team leader, identified that the attack was a DDoS. Joanne went to the premises of Qdata which manages the technical infrastructure of iPremier. At the Qdata premises, Joanne attempted to contain the attack but was unsuccessful. The CEO of iPremier, Jack Samuelson, entrusted Turley with the response and prioritized a return to normal operations. During the DDoS attack, the employees of Qdata were either unhelpful or unavailable in the iPremier’s response to the incident. Finally, iPremier’s high playing customers were affected by the DDoS attack because they were unable to access the company’s e-commerce site.
The DDoS attack portends serious financial costs for the company. Currently, iPremier is in a favorable financial position having reported profits of $20 million on sales of $320 million in 320 million in 2017. Sales grew by 20% each year from 2015 to 2017 and profits have an upward trend. Firstly, a revelation of the DDoS attack to the public will harm the iPremier’s financial position since the stock price will take a hit which cause the company’s value to plummet. Consequently, iPremier will lose the strong cash position that it currently enjoys. Top executives at the company who are compensated using stock options face a significant drop in their incomes in case the stock sinks. iPremier also faces reputational damage from the incident, especially if it is determined that sensitive customer data was stolen. The potential loss of customers will cause a decline in revenues and threaten iPremier’s market position. Finally, recovering from the attack and securing the computing systems and databases from similar attacks will be costly for the company.
Time was a critical factor during the response to an attack. Firstly, the personnel of iPremier failed to manage the attack fast enough which meant that for 75 minutes, the company’s systems were offline due to the DDoS attack. Secondly, iPremier is under pressure to make timely improvements to the technical infrastructure to prevent attacks in the future.
Problem and Alternatives
The problem identified at IPremier is outdated operating procedures around disaster preparedness and recovery. Firstly, the company has an outdated business continuity plan (BCP). Having an outdated BCP means that the company lacks an effective plan for preventing and recovering from incidents that threaten business operations. iPremier also lacks a disaster recovery plan and incident response plan. Without these plans, the management is incapable of competently and comprehensively addressing incidents such as the DDoS attack (Whitman, & Mattord, 2021).
Alternative 1: iPremier Moves Computing to Internal Facility
The first alternative is for iPremier to move its computing to an internal facility. The option requires the company to manage its technical infrastructure in-house instead of outsourcing to Qdata. The cost of managing the computing internally will be around $5 million annually. The cost of acquiring the hardware and software for the internal facility is around $7.5 million. The plan is economically feasible because, in the long term, iPremier will make considerable cost savings by terminating the outsourcing contract with Qdata. The option is also economically feasible because the company will update and also upscale its operations at a low cost. The alternative is technically feasible because iPremier has and can procure the appropriate hardware to manage the technical infrastructure. Finally, this alternative has organizational feasibility because iPremier has skilled personnel, including Turley and Joanne, who can manage the internal facility. Therefore, moving computing to an internal facility allows to iPremier to have more control and monitoring over the company’s computer systems, networks, and databases.
Alternative 2: iPremier Acquires Qdata
The second alternative is for iPremier to acquire Qdata. By taking over Qdata, the iPremier will effectively control the operations of Qdata including the management of its own computers, databases, and networks. The takeover will cost iPremier around $50 to $75 million based on the current state of Qdata. The cost of acquiring Qdata is low since the company has lost its leading market position and currently operates outdated technology. Moreover, a price of $50 to $75 million is appropriate since iPremier is Qdata’s main client. Taking over Qdata will provide an opportunity for iPremier to retain the expertise and experience of Qdata in managing its technical infrastructure while at the same time overseeing improvements to Qdata’s operations. The option is economically feasible because iPremier will have an opportunity to run a technology company and draw revenues from the operations of Qdata. The option is technically feasible because the iPremier will take control of the hardware of Qdata. Additionally, the option has organizational feasibility because iPremier will integrate the operations of Qdata into its operations without considerable resistance since the two companies already collaborate.
Alternative 3: iPremier Changes Hosting Company
The third alternative is for iPremier to change the hosting company. iPremier is highly reliant on technology for its business operations. Since Qdata has proved to be ineffective in regards to the management of iPremier’s technical architecture, the company should be looking to switch to another hosting company that can provide more effective and reliable services. The selected hosting company should be a market leader with the requisite technology and technical know-how to manage the range of systems, devices, and servers of iPremier. A new outsourcing contract with a new hosting company will cost iPremier around $3.5 million annually. This alternative is economically feasible because it is cost-effective to have high-quality and reliable hosting services that will support business processes while minimizing attacks or disruptions to online services. Secondly, the option is technically feasible because of the expertise in iPremier that will be crucial in selecting the right host. The alternative is organizationally feasible because it supports iPremier’s objective to provide quality services to customers.
iPremier should implement the first alternative which is to move its computing to an internal facility. The company should pursue this alternative because it offers the greatest advantages compared to the other two alternatives. Firstly, the alternative will allow iPremier to manage the technical infrastructure with greater competency in line with its goal of providing reliable online services to customers. Secondly, iPremier will have an opportunity to develop the competence and capability to manage its information technology within a business environment that is highly dynamic (ICS, 2020). For instance, using an internal facility will allow iPremier to expand the scale of its operations with high effectiveness as the business grows. Finally, an internal facility will allow the company to develop comprehensive and updated incident response and disaster recovery plans for its technical infrastructure.
The DDoS attack on the computing systems of iPremier revealed that the company lacks preparedness for a situation where there are extensive disruptions to its operations. The management of the organization lacks a clear, coordinated plan for handling the situation with various key players making different suggestions on how the situation should be handled. For instance, there were vast differences in the suggestions of the CIO, CTO, and the company’s legal counsel on what to do during the DDoS attack. There is still disagreement on the way forward after the attack had passed. Therefore, there is a need for more planning and higher preparedness for unexpected incidents such as the attack. To achieve that, iPremier should manage its computers, servers, and databases internally.
Austrin, R. (2018). The iPremier Company (A): Distributed Denial of Service Attack. Harvard Business School.
CISA (2019). Understanding Denial-of-Service attacks. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/tips/ST04-015
ICS (2020). Benefits of system integration. Internal Computer Services. https://www.internalcomputerservices.com/benefits-of-system-integration/#:~:text=Less%20chance%20of%20human%20error,Reduces%20costs%20%E2%80%93%20Let’s%20face%20it.
Whitman, M. E., & Mattord, H. J. (2021). Principles of incident response and disaster recovery. Cengage Learning.
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