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Ancestry.com: Cybersecurity is the key to keeping business alive



There is no doubt that cybersecurity is important for all types of companies given the high investments in it. However, for some enterprises, security is an essential part of their business. Such is the case with Ancestry.com LLC, the world’s largest for-profit genealogy company, which operates a network of genealogical, historical and genealogical records.

In addition to enabling its business to expand, investing in security is critical to keeping Ancestry alive, according to Grant Johnson (pictured), director of risk and compliance at Ancestry.

“We are asking people to share their most personal data with us,” he said. “We can give you a new credit card or you can get a new credit card number issued, but we can’t give you a new DNA sequence.”

Johnson spoke with Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Qualys Security Conference in Las Vegas. They discussed the deployment of cloud infrastructure at Ancestry, the company’s cybersecurity challenges, and its plans for the future. (* Disclosure below.)

Cloud infrastructure to enable global business

Developing an efficient security system was one of the reasons Johnson joined the company over three years ago after working at Qualys Inc.

“When I started in 2016, our chief technology officer got up and said: ‘We are going to burn the ships,’” Johnson explained. “We have not signed the contract for our data center to renew at 18 months, so we have to go to the cloud.”

Building a complete cloud infrastructure was part of the plan to make the company bigger and global. Ancestry wanted to move to Europe and other regions, and there was no way to do that with the traditional data center model, according to Johnson.

“The idea was that by going to the cloud we could really rethink the way that we do security and vulnerability management,” he explained. “And we went from a more traditional bottle, where you scan and tell people to patch and do things like that, to where we can try to start to bake vulnerability management into the process and do a lot of different things.”

As part of this process and leveraging cloud expansion, Ancestry has redesigned many applications. “We needed it to be able to handle the tide — of high tide, low tide,” Johnson stated. “So, it really took a rewrite.”

This new infrastructure architecture has opened a “brave new world” in many ways. Ancestry was able, for example, to scale the number of transactions from its normal rate of 10 to 12 per second to about 250 transactions per second on Cyber Monday.

“That was one of the good parts of the cloud: You invest in the big iron and in the big piping for your peak times of the year,” Johnson said. “Or it sits at 7-10% utilization during the rest of the year, but you can handle those peaks well.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Qualys Security Conference. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Qualys Security Conference. Neither Qualys Inc., the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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