The headlines over the past year have been full of breaches and hacks. That speaks to how important network security has become. However, there are a lot of little things that can make keeping the network safe difficult. For example, monitoring devices is an important task, and skipping it opens up vulnerabilities in the network. It isn't easy, because devices can often go missing for odd reasons, and tracking them down is irritating and time-consuming. But losing track of any number of devices is a potential risk, because you don't know why they went missing and they could have access to critical resources. Follow these three tips to help you monitor your devices for better network safety.
Keep Up with Patches and Updates
One of the ways you can minimize all security risks, including that of missing devices, is to ensure that all of them are completely up to date. A long history of bugs and holes in shipped software from OSs to drivers and enterprise software exists. Staying on top of patching, even when it becomes annoying, is crucial for security because it closes holes as soon as possible. The longer any machine goes unpatched, the longer the network is vulnerable. It only takes one device without an important update to let a hacker in. Although it may take time to get the patch out as soon as you can, fixing patches before you deploy them is time well spent as it ensures that they do not disrupt any critical functionality.
It might seem like paranoia, but if you conduct lots of penetration tests and other exercises, you will quickly learn the status of your security and whether any devices you can't find are open to breaches. Even if it is just scans, be rigorous about security protocol and spend time checking and rechecking each device to see if anything is displaying any vulnerabilities. You need advanced network monitoring tools for sysadmins to feel confident that you are conducting enough tests. It is much easier to try to justify spending a lot of time and effort on testing and scans rather than to justify why hackers in China now have all of your customers' credit card information.
Always Follow-Up On Missing Devices
If you do find out that some devices are not visible, don't put off tracking them down. You can't be sure that they have not been compromised until you find them. If any of them have access to business resources, then hackers might have accessed those resources. It's unlikely, but still possible, and the longer devices remain out of sight, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Best practices require making the discovery of lost devices a priority. Most of the time, the network loses track of devices for benign reasons, but it pays to make sure. If a device is unreachable, it could be missing patches, updates, or other important elements, so even if it was not vulnerable when it dropped out it could become vulnerable.
The bottom line is that monitoring devices are a big part of network security, which, in turn, is becoming a more important part of doing business. The presence of threats that are willing to attack businesses of any size in their search for valuable data means that IT departments need to be ready to fend off these attacks. Practicing the right protocols with respect to device monitoring is a big step in the right direction. It closes a lot of potential doors that an attacker could use to get into the network.