In the digital age, a company is only as powerful as its network. The ability of your IT staff to navigate and counteract threats determines the success of that network. This begs the question: Do you know your network topology? Is your company on top of its network devices and configurations and the threats they face? With all of your other responsibilities, probably not.
As technology shifts and changes, so do the systems needed to protect your data. When these systems age, they are no longer equipped to handle current security threats. Just as cars need regular check-ups and fixes, so do old network configurations. Without regular analysis and adjustments, your system will not keep up.
Where Do I start?
It is easy to assume updating a network will solve lingering security issues. While this could work as a stopgap, the truth is most companies tend to outgrow their old network configurations. New systems are added, but the old are not purged, or they are at end-of-life and at risk for failure. This is where a network assessment yields a return on investment.
With a network assessment, it is possible to determine where the faults in the network lie, what users and hardware are inactive, and how you can improve your systems. Rather than putting a bandage on the situation, a network assessment can completely solve the problem.
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What Information is Uncovered in a Network Assessment?
An assessment can pinpoint a number of issues in your network, but there are a few broad categories most of these issues will fall under, which include:
- Bottlenecks are a fairly common problem for rapidly expanding organizations. With the sheer number of employees at larger organizations, it is very easy to eat up bandwidth. Video streaming, running programs, and large file downloads can quickly slow down your network.
- Underutilized resources are common in any organization. Likewise, overused resources occur as new systems are added onto a network. Some departments require more resources than others, so this is not unusual. An infrastructure assessment can tell you where you need to allocate current resources for the best performance.
- Future advantages and problems are a big part of a network analysis. Planning for the future is just as important as solving current problems. Your network devices and configurations may need to be adjusted to curb a current threat or ward off a future one, but will still function normally. Additionally, an infrastructure assessment will help your IT team plan for other technologies as they are introduced into the system.
- Major security flaws are not always a problem, but they are worth checking. A security assessment will catch any problems before they grow into larger threats.
- Inactive resources can take up space and put strain on your network configurations. They are a little different from resources still in use, as these inactive resources are not monitored and could present a security threat. These unused resources could be computers, security groups, or even inactive users in the system. Without regular security assessments, these inactive resources could quickly turn into a larger problem.
- Servers and directories may not present as large of a security risk, but an infrastructure assessment can help pinpoint places to improve these current systems.
How is a Network Assessment performed?
A network assessment is performed by a well-trained team. They will use tools and scripts to gather data from your entire network, and examine physical hardware for issues and threats. Once compiled, this data is presented in a report to pinpoint the biggest flaws in the current infrastructure and how they can be improved. The primary goal of this report is to identify the gaps between the best practices and the current network, the health and configuration of the servers, and ensure physical devices are performing as needed.
How often do I need a Security Assessment?
It is recommended to have a security assessment at least annually. As mentioned, avoiding bloat and excess hardware on your network helps minimize security risks as well as reducing strain on company finances. It will save time and money on your budget to catch a leak before it grows into a bigger problem, so an annual assessment keeps everything on track.
How do I prepare for a Network Assessment?
Analyzing your entire network sounds pretty daunting. However, the reality is that it is not overly complicated or time consuming. The team performing the assessment does not need access to your entire IT staff for extended periods of time, just a single staff member with access to all of the systems. After that, ensure whoever is performing the assessment has access to all network devices, servers, and physical hardware. They will handle the rest.
Post Assessment: How to handle the Data
More than likely your network assessment is an overload of information. There may be ten or more problems to solve, and no one is sure where to start. It is best to sit down with your IT staff as well as the team that performed the assessment and talk about how to solve any problems.
- Do we need to change our storage configuration?
- Do we need a larger bandwidth capacity or ISP?
- What does the IT staff need to handle internally?
- How do we address these problems if they arise in the future?
- How do we prevent these problems in the first place?
By asking these questions you can proactively assess your environment and infrastructure, incorporate best practices in the evaluation and pre-emptively address issues before they occur, not only plan for the future, but make sure that similar issues do not occur again. It is also best if other heads of the company are involved, as many of them can pass this information along to their respective teams. As many of the security threats in larger companies stem from misuse or neglect of hardware and user accounts, it is far better to share the information to ensure everyone in the company is aware of potential problems.
If you or your company have any questions about network assessments or need assistance performing one, contact our team and we’ll see how we can help your company take control of its resources.