By John Bidgood, CTO Systal Technology Solutions

Threats to IT Service Excellence. Robustness: security and disaster recovery

This is the third in our IT Service Excellence trio of blogs examining the threats that may prevent you from building and maintaining a truly robust IT network. First, we looked at the issue of vendor sprawl, and then in the second blog we explored the issues of multi-cloud implementations, duplication and redundancy.

In this, the final blog on threats to delivering IT Service Excellence, we’re looking at the perennial issues of cybersecurity, malware, disaster recovery and data backup. Why are they common threats to the development and maintenance of a robust IT network – and what can you do to alleviate them?

Threat 4: security and malware

The threats of active or accidental infection with malware, social engineering attacks which trick employees into opening up the network to cybercriminals, DDoS attacks which bring operations to a grinding halt or knock key systems offline and even spam are faced by organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. Falling victim to such an attack can risk revenue and reputation; cyberattacks need to be reported and may incur fines, whilst repairing the damage after a security incident can be costly and complex.

Security incidents are a measure of network robustness and the quality of meeting and enforcing a corporate security policy. Falling victim to a cyberattack can be a sign that the network is not properly protected from the types of assets using it. Whilst it is impossible to ever fully mitigate the risk of cybercrime, a robust network is a secure, well-protected one.

Alleviating the threat of security incidents, then, requires a truly end-to-end review of how data traffic and flows are protected, from the point of generation, through transit and in storage. It requires a review of every individual device on the network, understanding what should connect to what, segregating the traffic flows where possible (i.e. an implicit deny) and then monitoring and correlating security events to assess and react to the security threat. Correlating security events may also require the use of monitoring application traffic flows and performing “data analytics” on the flows to check whether a Malware attack is happening. The security threat is truly multi-facetted and multi-layered, and therefore both preventative and reactive care also has to be considered similarly.

Threat 5: disaster recovery and data backup

As mentioned above, it is impossible to ever fully remove the risk of security incidents – which means that identifying, isolating and repairing the damage from said incidents is another key part of network robustness. The ability of a network to be restored quickly and comprehensively in the event of natural disaster, technical failure, power failure, cyberattack or any other incident which disrupts operations is an often-neglected part of overall network design and management, but it is absolutely critical to business continuity.

The key pillar of mitigating this risk is a disaster recovery plan, which a single individual within your organisation should ultimately be responsible for. The plan should include regular duplication and backing up of the IT network, so that key systems and applications can be restored at the click of a button if needs be. Copies of key applications and data should be stored remotely, so that if a physical incident occurs onsite, the damage is not lasting. It is also important to be able to understand the extent and impact of any incident that occurs quickly, so that the recovery strategy is appropriate and comprehensive.

Ultimately, building and maintaining a robust IT network begins by understanding your IT network. You need ongoing visibility and control, and the peace of mind that any problems will be identified and understood rapidly. This visibility and control needs to be underpinned with excellent processes, tools and good architecture practices that can plan for change (risk and impact), for the likelihood of failure and for verifying that changes are working (test strategy and planning). Managed network services should provide a powerful foundation for this.

Interested in learning more about building a robust IT network? Read the first and second blogs in this series, or contact us directly to discuss how we can use managed services to help make your network perform better and easier to manage.