The IT Nightmare Before Christmas

Concise | Date: December 18, 2019


In our latest case study, Concise Technologies comes to the rescue of Christmas Santa Grotto Services when a cyber attack from the Bah Humbug gang strikes its delivery-critical systems on the night before Christmas.

With exponential population growth to absorb year on year, Santa Grotto Services finds itself more and more reliant on IT systems to keep its operations running. “When it comes to system uptime, 99.9% is simply not enough with the number of households we’re servicing these days. What we need is an efficient and failsafe technology infrastructure to get us through what is, let’s face it, the world’s biggest logistical undertaking,” says Operations Director Ms Sanita Claus, daughter of MD Santa Claus, in what is very much a family firm.

The Problem

Having invested in an enterprise-scale CRM system to handle its growing database of customer contacts, the Board of Management at Santa Grotto Services had every reason to believe that the Christmas 2019 delivery was “in the bag”, as Santa Claus described it.

Between November and the middle of December, the company’s crack team of highly-trained elves scanned millions of letters into the system, and with the LMS (Letter Management System) integrated with both the CRM and the GPS on-sleigh satnav tool, by 22nd December the annual operation was progressing well within schedule.

But on the morning of 23rd December, Sanita Claus logged into the CRM system to check last-minute address changes only to find an empty contact database. Santa Grotto Services had been hit by a ransomware attack and the company's high-quality huge customer data was no long accessible.  A cyber-criminal unit calling itself the Bah Humbug Gang was demanding over 5 billion pounds to restore access to the precious data of children’s wish lists and addresses.

There was worse to come. With the operational efficiencies that the new CRM system had introduced, the company’s elves who normally dealt with the IT, had completed their preparation work early and treated themselves to an extended spa break in Northern Greenland for “a bit of R&R” before the busy holiday period started.

“I didn’t have a clue what, if any, backup arrangements the elves had put in place”, Sanita admits. “There was no documentation and that’s typical of the way elves work - they just carry everything around in their little green heads.”

Claus can still recall the feeling of utter helplessness. “It was like walking off the edge of a cliff,” she says. “I just ran out of IT skills as abruptly as that. Like many execs I try to keep up with the whole area of cybersecurity, but I don’t really know what it entails in practical terms.”

A desperate Sanita picked up her smartphone and started calling the elves one by one. That was when she discovered that the elf responsible for backups was recovering after an Arctic vodka promotion night. She privately wondered whether it was “game over” for that Christmas. “But then the next elf I rang told me about the Concise Managed IT Services agreement he had arranged on the advice of the CRM system provider,” she says.

The Solution

Sanita phoned the Concise 24/7 Helpline number while sipping an Icelandic herb infusion to steady her nerves. It was lunchtime on the 23rd December. At this point Christmas was very much appearing to be cancelled.

But she quickly got through to Concise Service Desk and explained her predicament.  Her adviser empathised with the situation and put her mind at rest by checking over the systems and started explaining the terms of her Service Level Agreement. It turned out that Santa Grotto Services had the CMS+ Support Agreement, entitling them to 24/7 IT support even over the Christmas period. And crucially, the company had also subscribed to Concise’s Backup and Disaster Recovery services.

With the elves still recovering from their excesses, what a relief it was to find out that Concise’s technicians were able to retrieve the last backup from their own private cloud. Within only one hour of phoning, Sanita received an email to say that the CRM was fully restored and running in the cloud, and as she looked out of the grotto window she could just about make out the elves descending from Greenland’s own clouds on the sleigh they had “borrowed” for the trip.

The Bah Humbug gang would have to try harder than that to defeat Concise and Christmas.

Sanita Claus concludes: “2019 has been a great year with Concise on board. The digital revolution has really disrupted the Christmas gift distribution model, with dynamic start-ups threatening our share of this traditional marketplace. But we’re moving forward now with a robust strategy in place. What Concise gives Santa Grotto Services is peace of mind by taking care of our IT needs every minute of every day so we can focus on our core operations. But not only that. We have quarterly strategy meetings where we share our goals and Concise give us valuable pointers on how best to support our plans with IT infrastructure for a business that brings joy to all mankind.”

Merry Christmas from everyone at Concise Technologies

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