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DNS Solutions for Social Media Platforms - White Paper

October 5, 2021
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Heather Oliver is a Technical Writer for Constellix and DNS Made Easy, subsidiaries of Tiggee LLC. She’s fascinated by technology and loves adding a little spark to complex topics. Want to connect? Find her on LinkedIn.

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Social media has come a long way since Ward Christensen and Randy Suess introduced the Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS) in 1978. In fact, it has become a way of life for home users and businesses alike. For companies, it is a way to humanize their brand, develop customer loyalty, and promote their products more effectively. For casual users, it is a means of connecting with family and friends, meeting new people, and forming relationships with businesses. With social media being such a large influence across audiences, it’s vital that social platforms are accessible at all times. 

In this white paper, we will discuss the problems social media platforms face in today’s online climate, as well as proven DNS solutions that solve them. 

Social Media Networks DNS White Paper - Solutions and Strategies for Better performance and uptime utilizing - Multi CDN, Failvoer, Load Balancer, Global Load Balancing
Click Image To download Social Media DNS White Paper

Social Media Adoption Surges Over the Years

Since its inception, social media has only grown in popularity. The early 2000s marked the point of no return when networking sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter entered the market. In 2021, approximately 51% of the world’s population now uses social media. That is almost 4 billion people. This is a staggering increase from just a decade ago, which had a user base of 970 million.

Social media is so mainstream that nearly everything in today’s online space is socially connected in one way or another. For example, many websites offer logins through social sites rather than setting up a separate account. Businesses include commenting and social media sharing for their content. Social and messaging apps are commonly used in organizations of all sizes. In fact, 90% of employers now look at potential candidates’ social media activity when hiring new employees.

In 2020, social media saw a spike in usage, averaging more than 1.3 million newly created accounts each day. This was largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this increased social media adoption is here to stay. The average user spends nearly 7 hours a day online across devices. To look at it another way, that is 42% of a person’s waking hours—and much of this time includes perusing social networks. 

Why a Strong DNS Strategy is Critical for Social Media Platforms

Considering today’s usage and growth patterns year over year, it is imperative that social media platforms have rock-solid DNS and content delivery network strategies in place. Social media is used 24 hours a day for leisure and professional use. Add to that the growing privacy concerns that businesses and individuals share with social media usage and the problems become clear.

DNS-Based Problems and Solutions

Problem: Downtime and Outages

Unexpected downtime or an outage is detrimental for businesses that require the internet to operate. The damages far exceed the length of time your domain or application is down. In fact, downtime leads to approximately $26.5 billion in losses for businesses each year. To understand the true cost of downtime, you must also factor in the cost of mitigation, decreased employee activity for affected internal systems, the hit to brand reputation, and possible loss of ad revenue from advertisers and partners. 

Not only do outages come at an enormous cost for your platform, but there are millions (or billions depending on the network) of users that depend on social networks for both casual and business use. For personal or casual users, downtime is more of an inconvenience, but for businesses and individual entrepreneurs, it disrupts their ability to promote their products or services and decreases their ad or boosted post visibility. 

Approximately 73% of brands include social media in their marketing strategies. The average company spends between $72,000 and $126,000 or 13% of its budget on social media campaigns each year. According to Statista, nearly 41 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2021 in the U.S. alone, a significant increase from 15.63 billion in 2016. It’s predicted that spending will increase to nearly 57 billion in 2022.   

Solution: Multi-CDN and Muti-CDN Management

Having multiple content delivery networks (CDNs) is crucial for websites and applications like social media networks. This ensures your domains are safe from unexpected downtime or provider outages. If one CDN service is experiencing issues, traffic is distributed across the healthy CDNs in your configuration. Multi-CDN is a viable choice for platforms that run their own CDN or rely on an external provider.

The challenge with implementing multiple CDNs is management. To be effective, regular health checks must be performed across various regions. Configurations are also complex. To alleviate these challenges, Constellix developed a Multi-CDN management tool that allows administrators to maintain all of their CDNs in one place. This works by creating one record pool that contains the hostnames of your CDN endpoints. Once the pool is created and enabled, Constellix monitors all your CDNs across all regions automatically. This saves time and money, but also provides redundancy. If one of your endpoints is unhealthy, traffic will be diverted to a healthy resource, which avoids unnecessary downtime. For social media platforms, this is an incredibly beneficial tool as your website and apps remain accessible even if one of your CDN providers experiences an outage.

Use Case: Prevent outages with multiple CDN management and automated health checks.

Multi CDN Management - Record Pool - CNAME record pool - DNS Monitoring Check

Solution: Redundancy With Primary/Primary or Hidden Primary DNS

The most effective way of preventing DNS-related downtime is by having two providers. Constellix’s Primary/Primary option achieves the same result as traditional secondary DNS, but is set up through API calls. With this configuration, you can incorporate redundancy even if another provider does not support secondary DNS. This is especially useful for social media networks using internal DNS as you can configure Constellix to be a hidden primary. With a hidden primary, you will have two authoritative sources and the added security of redundancy while only publishing your nameservers for DNS queries.
Alternatively, you can configure your servers to be the hidden primary and publish Constellix's nameservers to protect your servers from being targeted by a cyber attack.

Use Case: Prevent outages with a second DNS provider. A primary/primary configuration can also benefit performance as some resolvers prefer the fastest server, regardless of whether it is primary or secondary. Hidden primaries provide the same benefit, but offer protection from direct attacks against your nameservers.

Solution: DNS Failover 

Failover is one of the most popular load balancing options available. It is also an effective and economical way for social media platforms to remain up 100% of the time. Utilizing Constellix’s Sonar health checks, web traffic is automatically and intelligently rerouted to a healthy resource if the primary IP is down or unstable. Constellix takes one additional step in this process and verifies the integrity of an alternative resource before sending traffic to it. This prevents unnecessary downtime in the event one of your backup hosts or IP addresses is unavailable.  

Use case: When your primary IP or host appears unhealthy or goes offline, your traffic will automatically cycle to the IP/host in your configuration.

Problem:  DDoS Attacks

DNS and CDN-related outages aren’t the only threat to Social Media platforms. Another cause of concern is attacks on social networking infrastructure. One of the most popular cyber attacks is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. In 2020, there were more than 246 million web attacks, which is a 340% increase from 2019

One reason social platforms are such a prime target for hackers is due to the volume of users. Major social apps such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google’s Blogger have all been victims of DDoS attacks. These types of attacks can be even more costly than outages due to misconfigurations or other IT errors. When factoring in lost revenue, operational costs, help desk calls/chats, and brand value, companies could lose $6,504,997 or more for just six hours of downtime. 

DDoS attacks flood a network with malicious traffic until its servers become inoperable. The company under attack also often receives an email demanding payment to cease the barrage of traffic. These types of digital strikes can completely shut down your network for extended periods of time and are not only costly, but can be difficult to recover from. 

Solution: Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection

Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection (RTTAD) is a fully scalable, intelligent service that utilizes machine learning to detect unusual or malicious activity based on your domain’s normal traffic patterns. Your IT team will receive instant notifications when anomalies occur, which affords the opportunity to respond proactively and prevent disruptions. This is especially useful for combating DDoS attacks or for identifying misconfigurations that are causing query spikes. RTTAD can be configured to monitor domains by city, region, or world, and provides organizations ultimate protection and peace of mind. 

Use Case: Receive alerts any time unusual or suspicious spikes in queries are detected. See where traffic is coming from and make decisions based on your real-time DNS data to ensure optimal server performance or to block malicious traffic before it damages your domain(s). 

Solution: IP Filtering

IP filtering funnels traffic to servers based on end-user location or rules that you specify in your DNS configuration. This option benefits domains in several ways. It helps overall performance and enables faster query resolution, but it also allows users to create a firewall at the DNS level. This lets you block malicious or unwanted traffic before it can cause damage to your network. When IP Filtering rules are applied to your domain, DNS servers will be instructed to drop the query.

Use Case: Segment traffic based on location by filtering by region to send end users to alternate websites or servers or block a specific location, ASN, or subnet from accessing your network. 

Solution: DNS Query Logs and Statistics

Advanced DNS and CDN analytics is an essential resource for social media networks. Constellix’s monitoring solutions transform your domain data into actionable threat intelligence. With the ability to review historical and real-time domain traffic, administrators can easily identify spikes in queries and take measures to prevent attacks from happening. Query logs and statistics help you make traffic-routing decisions based on user location and content. These tools also assist in pinpointing problematic servers and CDNs. 

Use Case: Prevent DDoS attacks, identify misconfigurations or problematic resources, and optimize your web traffic based on real user activity.

Problem: Social Media Domain Performance

In this digital age, end users don’t just crave immediacy, they expect it. As social media networks are often image and video-driven, site and application performance is a key component of a successful online strategy. While speed is important for social audiences, it also plays a large role in SEO ranking. A mere one-second delay in load time for a website can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions. This may not seem like an issue for large established platforms, but the simple truth is new online communities keep sprouting up as technology evolves and more people become socially connected online. Just as users crave immediacy, they are also affected by shiny toy syndrome. As more social networks hit the market, social entrepreneurs need to ensure their services remain as competitive on the backend as they do with user-facing features.

Slow or poor-performing applications can also affect advertising just like outages do, albeit on a smaller scale. This can negatively affect revenue for the network and the advertiser. Ads are often rotated or are geographically targeted. If a resource is unstable or is experiencing more traffic than usual, this can affect resolution speed. This can cause display issues and limit ad or post visibility in some cases.

Solution: Global Load Balancing

Global Load Balancing techniques, such as latency routing balances web traffic across multiple servers. Some type of load balancing is a must for all modern-day systems. Constellix offers an Internet Traffic Optimization (ITO) solution that is regionally-based and uses health checks to determine which resources can best handle a domain’s web traffic. This is done in a round robin fashion. It also intelligently accounts for the round trip time (RTT) of the resources in your configuration. ITO has baked-in Failover, and is especially beneficial for multi-CDN and multi-cloud environments as DNS records are automatically updated to point to the fastest endpoint. This is a true “set it and forget it” option that will save your IT team valuable time.

Use Case: Distribute web traffic by region or resource capacity

Solution: Multi-CDN Management

Multi-CDN management isn’t just beneficial for preventing outages. It also improves performance and automates health checks. Managing all your CDNs in one place saves valuable time and provides administrators with ultimate control over their web traffic.

Use Case: Improve site and application performance and save time.

Conclusion

The world grows more digitized by the day and social media is an integral part of the online sphere. With such a reliance on social platforms for both casual and business use, there is a heavy responsibility on networks to remain accessible at all times. The solutions outlined in this white paper not only help protect your network from outages and attacks, but will also give it a competitive edge. Schedule a one-on-one to discuss your unique needs. Together, we can create a bulletproof strategy for your platform.

References

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