Should You Automate Security Incident Response?

Should You Automate Security Incident Response?There’s no question that incidents of cyber-security violations are on the rise. In fact, the numbers are steadily climbing at an alarming rate. In 2013, the number of incidents increased by an incredible 48%. The following year, security breaches rose another 23%. With statistics like this, it’s becoming increasingly evident that businesses must be proactive and extremely diligent about protecting their sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Could automated security incident response be the answer?

In years past, the traditional 4-step method of managing security incidents was sufficient. IT personnel would prepare as much as they could for possible attacks and spend a great deal of their time analyzing the events that were detected to determine their legitimacy and severity. From there, the next step was to contain or eradicate the problem and work toward system recovery as quickly as possible. IT would then evaluate their response to develop better practices for use in the future. For a while, this was enough to keep cyber-attackers in check.

Unfortunately, with online security breaches becoming much more frequent and sophisticated, the old method for security incident response is no longer effective. It’s simply not fast enough, nor is it proactive or thorough enough to keep up with the changing demands. Today, IT personnel just don’t have the capacity to handle such an influx of threats, nor do they have the time or bandwidth to evaluate and address every event as it comes in. This can lead to devastating and costly breaches.

When you add automation into the security incident response process, however, all of these shortcomings can be addressed and eliminated. With a quality automation product, the IT department can streamline their incident management process. Incoming events are detected and the system automatically evaluates, prioritizes and escalates. This eliminates false positives and ensures that legitimate threats are always detected, reported and addressed in a timely manner.

Additionally, automation can then facilitate a seamless, closed-loop process, updating the incident log, resolving alerts and tracking and documenting all processes to be used for developing best practices moving forward. An automated system can also help IT departments to become more proactive by identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities. Most importantly, with an automated process, systems can be back up and running much faster, reducing costly downtime and improving customer satisfaction.

Today’s automation products can be easily and seamlessly integrated with existing incident management programs, such as Solarwinds and Servicenow, to extend and enhance legacy systems without the need for an entire platform replacement or overhaul.

With cyber-attacks steadily on the rise, businesses of every shape, size and industry are at risk of becoming victims. The best way to protect yourself, your organization and those whose sensitive information may be at risk is to establish a solid security incident response plan.

Is your company protected?


eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response




6 Steps to Bring Your IT Process Automation from Basic to Breakthrough

6 Steps to Bring Your IT Process Automation from Basic to Breakthrough With the popularity of IT Process Automation (ITPA) steadily on the rise, more and more organizations are embracing the power of technology for streamlining operations, improving efficiency and creating a more productive environment. That said, however, most of these companies are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the many benefits ITPA can offer. If your firm is among those merely in the beginning stages of leveraging ITPA, here are 6 steps you can implement to bring things to the next level.

Step 1: Conduct a Skills and Organization Assessment

The maturity level of an organization along with the ability of operations teams to communicate, collaborate and work to support one another can be directly tied to advanced IT Process Automation success. As your business matures, cross-organizational processes must be identified and adapted to create a more holistic approach to service delivery. Each individual team member should be assessed to identify those with the following skills, which are essential for any automation management professional:

  • In-depth knowledge and expertise of operations
  • In-depth knowledge and expertise of the company’s infrastructure
  • In-depth knowledge and expertise of the business as a whole
  • Experience

Training and reallocation of resources may also be necessary, based on the results of this assessment.

Step 2: Improve IQ Levels of Various Workflows

The next step involves developing and improving your team’s understanding of the workflow process. Specifically, improvements should be made in how personnel understands the complete concept of everything from designing, building and testing a workflow to deploying and administering it once it’s developed. As a process, improving workflow ID involves the following tasks:

  • Determine/plan what the workflows are
  • Figure out what to automate and when
  • Document all aspects of process workflows, including upgrades and revisions
  • Implement comprehensive change management strategies

Step 3: Standardize Both the IT Infrastructure and the Approach to IT process automation

A high level of IT maturity includes the management of a standardized infrastructure, which allows IT process automation to be implemented without the costs and complexities of non-standardized, diverse IT infrastructures. Similarly, the processes through which ITPA workflows are tracked and maintained should also be standardized. As a result, the organization can realize the following benefits:

  • Lower costs
  • Increased reliability and performance
  • Reduced workflow complexity
  • Streamline/automate repetitive tasks
  • Lower risk of error
  • Reduced need for checks and balances on automated workflows
  • Need for fewer skills
  • Improved tracking and reporting
  • Reduced reliance on high level expertise

Step 4: Establish Objectives and Manage Expectations

Establishing clear-cut objectives based on the reasons why automation is being considered will help determine which specific IT processes and workflows will actually be automated and in what order. This creates an accurate scope of the overall strategy for implementing and maximizing IT Process Automation. Objectives should include specific metrics which can be tracked and measured.

Expectations surrounding workload and cost reduction should also be set early and accurately. Successfully automating smaller tasks can be an excellent way to demonstrate value and provide a foundation upon which to build out more complex automation projects.

Step 5: Make a Concerted Effort to Control Costs

The costs associated with successful ITPA extend well beyond the initial investment in the automation tool. According to Gartner, managing an IT Process Automation tool can cost anywhere from 2 to 4 times as much as the product itself. Understanding and factoring in the expenses of all the various aspects is essential. To keep costs manageable, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Try using existing automation technologies to start
  • Automate basic, repetitive tasks first
  • Standardize as many processes as possible
  • Carefully manage the initial expense of implementation, set up and customization

Step 6: Define the Value as Well as the Benefits

The value of IT process automation must be accurately measured against the time and other resources necessary to complete the process prior to automation. For many, the improved reliability, reduction in costly errors, quicker response times and enhanced efficiency are evident almost as soon as automation is implemented. The real ROI, however, will be realized as ongoing costs continue to go down or are eliminated altogether. To effectively assess the value and benefits of automation, consider the following metrics:

  • Pre-automation time necessary to accomplish the task manually
  • Pre-automation labor required to complete the process manually
  • Skills needed to accomplish the process prior to automation
  • Problems associated with manual processes (i.e. human error)
  • Downtime due to manual process issues (i.e. servers, applications, IT services, etc.)
  • Cost/difficulty of audit compliance prior to automation

Beyond the basic uses and benefits of IT Process Automation, this advanced technology has the potential to significantly improve business operations. By implementing the above steps, your IT department can tap into ITPA’s fullest potential and leverage its benefits to drive the ongoing success of your organization. It starts with the right partner.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Concerned about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? IT Process Automation Can Help

Concerned about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome IT Process Automation Can HelpOne of the biggest growing concerns amongst those who make careers out of sitting in front of computers is the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition, which primarily affects the hands and wrists is most notable among administrative professionals due to the repetitive tasks they perform on a day to day basis, such as typing and using the computer mouse. The good news is, for those that feel they may be at risk for this condition; there is something that can help mitigate that risk while also improving their performance and efficiency at work. That something is IT Process Automation.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Wikipedia defines carpal tunnel syndrome as a “median entrapment neuropathy” in which the median nerve, located in the wrist, becomes frequently compressed. The result over time is a medical condition which causes everything from pronounced numbness and pain that ranges from minor to excruciating. The long-term effects of carpal tunnel include permanent nerve damage, constant numbness, pronounced weakness and chronic pain. Treatment options include everything from physical therapy, steroid injections and surgery.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

While there is some evidence that CTS is more prevalent in those that are genetically predisposed, such as people who suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis and sometimes those who are pregnant, the main contributing factor for most people diagnosed with carpal tunnel is the heavy manual work they perform on a regular basis with their hands. Admins who do a lot of typing, use the mouse frequently and do other repetitive tasks with their hands are particularly at risk for developing the condition.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has indicated that jobs requiring highly repetitive manual tasks have been associated with diagnosed cases of carpal tunnel, and much research is still being conducted on the subject. So what can one do if they find themselves to be at risk of developing CTS? If the work has to be done, how can that risk be avoided? The answer is simple. Through the use of IT Process Automation.

How Can IT Process Automation Help?

While the use of splints and braces may provide some outside support for the wrist and thereby prevent some of the damage, it will not necessarily address the long term concern of CTS. The only true way to prevent damage to the median nerve is to reduce the repetitive tasks being performed. When you implement IT Process Automation into your current work environment, a vast majority of the repetitive, manual tasks can be automated. This means less repetitive motion and subsequent pressure on the delicate nerves in the wrist, which can reduce the chances of damage leading to carpal tunnel.

IT Process Automation isn’t just for IT professionals. This innovative technology can be used to automate virtually any pain point within your organization – including the repetitive manual tasks being performed by admins, such as data entry and file management. Not only will this automation help keep admins healthier by preventing injuries like CTS, but it will also free up valuable time and resources that can be better spent on other, more important business matters. It’s a win-win for everyone.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Top 10 Reasons Why IT Process Automation is Being Embraced by CIO’s

If you haven’t yet heard of this amazing technology called IT Process Automation, then it’s high time you come out from below that rock you’ve been hiding under. In simplest of terms, ITPA takes the specific pain points within a business – those time-consuming, manual tasks that are sucking up valuable resources and killing productivity – and automates them to instantly improve efficiency and service levels, reduce recovery time and so much more. But that’s all generally speaking. What are the real, meat and potato reasons why CIOs, IT managers and production operation support teams are adopting IT Process Automation?

Here are the top ten, in no particular order:

1. Automating the remediation of incidents and problems. Not only does this free up the resources of time and manpower, but it also significantly reduces human error associated with manual incident monitoring and management. An alert comes in, it automatically gets assigned to the appropriate person, and it’s easily tracked from start to finish.

2. Empowering frontline IT operators (L1 and L2) to resolve more incidents faster. Automation eliminates the need for escalation to higher level teams, freeing those high level employees to focus on more important business-critical matters while empowering lower level staff to take on more responsibilities. This also reduces turnaround time because there’s less red tape.

3. Reducing floods of alerts from monitoring systems and event sources. Better organization and management of incoming alerts means better service levels and fewer delays for delivery of that service. Critical alerts are prioritized and assigned immediately to the correct party for timely and accurate resolution.

4. Automating repetitive maintenance procedures and daily operational tasks. IT professionals possess skills and talent that could be much better allocated elsewhere than simply spent processing repetitive operational tasks. Automating these tasks, such as password resets and service restarts, let’s technology do the heavy lifting, freeing up talented personnel to be able to focus on key issues that would further improve service levels.

5. Creating a consistent, repeatable process for change management. Effective change management is all about organization. IT Process Automation provides management with the tools they need to create comprehensive processes that can be used again and again to produce the same desired results over time.

6. Connecting ITIL best practices with incident and problem management processes. The goal of any operation should be to manage workflow in a manner that is the most efficient and effective, both internally and externally. When ITIL best practices are integrated with the best practices in place for incident management, the organization as a whole becomes much more productive and profitable.

7. Documenting and capturing incident resolution and audit trails. Staying compliant with government and other regulatory bodies remains a top priority among businesses across just about every industry. ITPA provides the ability to consistently remain in compliance and be well prepared should an audit take place.

8. Building an up-to-date knowledgebase to reduced training time and cost. Bringing new employees up to speed costs time and money. Having a comprehensive knowledgebase and easy to implement and learn software reduces the time spent training, improving efficiency of both existing and new employees.

9. Integrating on-premise systems management tools and process with ITSM tools. Service management and IT Process Automation go hand in hand. By joining the two, your organization will be better poised for success.

10. Establishing end-user self-service portal for better services and fulfillment requests. Technological advances have empowered people to be able to manage so many of their day to day tasks on their own. IT Process Automation leverages this concept, providing self-service options for the end-user which subsequently improves customer service and operational efficiency at the same time.

Ready to jump on the IT Process Automation bandwagon?





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT Department

5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT DepartmentWithout question, IT Process Automation (ITPA) has made a significant and permanent impact on the IT world. This technology has essentially provided IT professionals with the ability finally accomplish what they’ve been challenged with for decades: maximizing performance while minimizing costs. Now, routine time-consuming tasks as well as complex workflows can be streamlined and handled almost exclusively without the need for human input. In short, IT Process Automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at 5 specific areas where IT Process Automation can produce the greatest benefit for your IT department and/or organization as a whole.

 

1. IT Organization

The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In today’s digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge the gap between departments and functions, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. IT Process Automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of organization.

2. IT Infrastructure

In order for a business to function cohesively across all departments, there need to be streamlined and standardized procedures and technologies in place. This includes best practices, virtualization, cloud computing and more. When this type of environment is created, automation can then provide the opportunity for IT professionals to leverage their expertise and improve skill levels for the maximum benefit of the department and the company in its entirety.

3. IT Support

Support that is enhanced with IT Process Automation can ensure roll-out, implementation and adoption of best practices. It can also improve processes, such as migrations, ensure more effective enforcement of compliance requirements and ultimately boost service levels across the board.

4. IT Operations

With more pressure being placed on IT professionals to not only manage their specified workflows, but also possess an in-depth understanding of overarching business practices, these workers must find a way to become better-equipped to meet these demands. Automation can help by allowing IT operations the reallocation of resources so that personnel can focus on furthering their education and expertise.

5. General Routine / Repetitive Tasks

Those every day, repetitive manual tasks that your IT department is buried under are inevitably costing your business money. Workflow automation and self-service options can alleviate this concern by taking the burden off personnel. Not only can this vastly improve efficiency and productivity, but it can also cut costs in the long run.

With demands on IT professionals increasing at a rapid rate, the need for enhanced technological solutions has never been greater. IT Process Automation can help your organization meet these evolving needs so you can remain competitive and achieve ongoing success, both now and well into the future.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




What is “Zero Level Support” and How Your NOC can Benefit from It?

Network Operation Center NOC LEVEL ZERORunning a successful IT operations requires achieving as much efficiency as possible. Most organizations do this by employing multi-level Network Operation Center (NOC) personnel. But that comes at a cost. What if there was a way to accomplish the majority of the work of lower-level NOC operations without requiring the additional personnel? With IT Process Automation, this is more than just a possibility – it’s completely achievable! It’s called zero-level support and it’s something that could potentially revolutionize your IT operations. Here’s how.

Level 1 NOC operations is typically the first line of contact for the end-user when an IT problem arises. As a result, this team handles many tasks that become routine and repetitive, which ultimately takes up a great deal of time that could be more effectively allocated elsewhere. IT Process Automation eliminates this waste of time and resources by taking these repetitive manual tasks and automating them, essentially freeing up the level 1 NOC personnel to be able to focus on other tasks that cannot be automated. In fact, up to 80% of first level NOC operations can be automated.

Some of the level 1 tasks that can be automated include:

  • Monitoring tickets, notifications and alerts and escalating issues
  • Ticket Troubleshooting
  • Restart Services, Password Resets, disk space cleanup
  • Updates and Documentation

When these routine tasks are no longer required to be handled manually, level 1 employees become empowered to do more complex tasks normally handled by level 2 NOC, which in turn allows higher level teams to take on more responsibility. This can significantly improve employee morale for your entire IT operations as a whole. Statistics have shown, time and time again, that satisfied employees are more productive and produce better output, so everyone benefits – from internal teams to end-users to external customers.

For NOC managers, IT Process Automation also makes the important job of staffing their departments much easier. When an organization has the right IT process automation tool in place, hiring a team of IT professionals no longer requires the presence of all the skills and capabilities as it would if the jobs were to be completed manually. Because so many of the manual tasks are handled by the software, the employees don’t necessarily have to possess the lengthy list of skills and experience they once may have in order to qualify.

Essentially, technology tools can replace the need to find employees that possess many of the skills previously required for these types of jobs. This allows managers to seek candidates that have other important business skills, creating a more robust team of professionals.

What all of this basically boils down to is the fact that withIT Process Automation, technology can essentially become your foundation of support – otherwise known as zero level. This makes the jobs of the other levels – from the 1st level up – as well as the management responsible for assembling highly effective, talented teams, much easier and much more efficient. This can ultimately benefit your entire organization as a whole.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




IT Process Automation in the Cloud Age

IT Process Automation in the Cloud Age
Over the past decade or so, cloud technology has brought businesses from mediocre to successful in the blink of an eye by delivering small to medium sized enterprises the opportunity to compete at the same level as their largest competitors. In short, the cloud has opened many doors and provided a wealth of new and exciting technologies to organizations across the world. One such way that this has been done is through IT Process Automation (ITPA), which goes hand in hand with cloud technology to improve operational efficiency and cut costs.

Let’s take a closer look at how IT Process Automation in the cloud age is changing the way companies across the globe are doing business.

Closed-loop Incident and Problem Resolution. When a critical incident occurred no matter where it affected or happened, it was up to those within the first and second levels of command to identify and address the issue or escalate to the appropriate team in as timely a manner as possible. This left tremendous room for human error and increased the risk that incidents would take longer than necessary to correct, or would get missed completely. With the right IT process automation tool in place, incidents are managed in zero level before even getting to the human level, reducing the risk of human error and improving mean time to resolution.

Improving Customer Satisfaction with Self Service Automation – If there’s one thing that the recent wave of smart technology has taught us it’s that people love to feel empowered. When users don’t have to rely on others to handle seemingly insignificant tasks, such as password resets, not only does it make the end-user feel empowered, but it makes the job of those in the IT department that much easier. Now, instead of your IT personnel having to waste time tackling day to day tasks for the rest of the organization, the end users themselves will have the ability to handle many of their own needs through self-service task automation. This improves morale for everyone involved, and boosts service levels.

Automating Service Fulfillments. If there’s any area that truly benefits from process automation, it’s the service fulfillment process. The beauty of ITPA is that it allows businesses to completely automate entire workflows across systems, such as those that dictate the sequence of events that occur between the service fulfillment platform and the end-users. Automation takes a once tedious and complex process and simplifies and streamlines it to dramatically improve efficiency.

Automate Operational Repetitive Tasks. Smaller businesses were once held back because they lacked the manpower to efficiently manage IT tasks. They wasted precious time and resources completing repetitive manual tasks that weren’t necessarily challenging, but needed to be done in order for the business to continue to run smoothly. IT process automation takes these manual tasks and workflows and automates them, letting technology do the heavy lifting and freeing up talented IT professionals to focus on more important issues. What could your organization do with more manpower?

Auditability/Compliance. Staying in compliance with the variety of external governing bodies is a necessary evil in the business world. The ability to document all of the critical data in an organized fashion and, more importantly, retrieve that data quickly and accurately in the event of an audit is invaluable. IT automation makes the entire process of documentation and information retrieval quick, simple and uniform across your organizational platform.

Regardless of industry, automation and cloud technology are fast becoming the dynamic duo for achieving ongoing success. Leveraging this for your own business will provide the benefits outlined above, as well as many unique advantages that will address the specific pain points within your organization. The result is a marked improvement in overall operational efficiency and a significant cost savings which will ultimately improve your business’ bottom line.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Most Common Barriers to Managed Service Providers (MSP) Growth and How to Overcome Them

Most Common Barriers to Managed Service Providers (MSP) Growth and How to Overcome ThemMaking the transition from basic IT support to the more lucrative role of Managed Service Providers (MSP) isn’t always as easy as it seems. Achieving growth from there can take even longer. So why, with automation becoming such a mainstream accepted tool in the IT world, is becoming a successful MSP so challenging? We thought it might be helpful to uncover some of the most common barriers to Managed Service Providers growth and, more importantly, what can be done to overcome them.

Barrier #1 – Being Too General – Many managed service providers out there that are struggling to achieve growth and ongoing success are missing the mark because they’re not positioning themselves as the gurus they truly are. Obtaining the appropriate certifications and credentials and honing your individual service offerings is key. Additionally, selling these services either by competency or by vertical can boost business tremendously and increase the amount of revenue you could be earning.

Barrier #2 – Not Differentiating from Break/Fix IT Support – The main driver keeping this barrier in place is fear. Many IT pros want to transition to selling managed services, but they hesitate for fear that they’ll lose some of their customers. In reality, not every client is suited for a managed service provider vs. break/fix type of support. But while you may, indeed, lose a small segment of business, you will gain it back and then some over time. Understanding and accepting this fact can help overcome the uneasiness and make the shift a little bit easier to make.

Barrier #3 – Underpricing Themselves – Switching from fixed price and/or cost plus pricing to a more realistic and profitable pricing model can be challenging, particularly if you don’t fully understand the true value of your services or, more importantly, how willing your customers are to pay what you’re worth. If you’re undervaluing and underpricing yourself, you will not be able to realize growth. In fact, you may even price yourself out of the industry all together.

Now that you know what may be standing in your way, here are a few helpful tips for overcoming these common barriers to growth:

  • Evaluate your existing business plan and MSP strategy, the strength of your software, and the skills and abilities of your team members.
  • Leverage technology and tools, such as automation, to buckle up your service delivery and make it much more efficient.
  • Keep a close eye on the market and your finger on the pulse of your customers to recognize and capitalize on trends and opportunities.
  • Develop and foster specialties by obtaining certifications, etc. in areas where your customers are.
  • Assess and modify your pricing model to ensure that it properly supports your level of service.
  • Establish a specific goal (i.e. 20% growth in 12 months) and develop a strategy for achieving that goal over the designated time frame.

Making the shift from one-off, break/fix IT support to a qualified, highly sought after Managed Service Provider isn’t as difficult as you may think. By understanding what factors might be hindering your ability to change and grow and applying the above advice for overcoming those obstacles, you’ll be well on your way to securing your position in the profitable Managed Service Providers world.

Want to learn how the right IT process automation tool can help propel your Managed Service Providers career forward into a successful future? Check out these top 10 automation processes



eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s




Ayehu Announces Release of eyeShare v4.7 – IT Process Automation Solution

eyeShare47

Ayehu Software Technologies Ltd., developer and marketer of stand-alone, enterprise-grade IT Process Automation (ITPA) solutions, has announced the release of the latest version of eyeShare.

The company’s flagship product is currently being used at major enterprises across the globe, enabling thousands of IT professionals to identify and remediate critical incidents up to 90% faster, minimizing their impact to the business and saving time for IT operations teams.

This most recent release includes a number of key features and new functions that will further support users moving forward. Of noteworthy mention is the Self Service Automation feature, which leverages eyeShare’s powerful IT Process Automation to empower end-users while also freeing up IT personnel to focus on more critical tasks. eyeShare admins will now be able to design any workflow and automatically generate a self-service web based portal interface for end-users, allowing them to independently resolve problems without the need for assistance from IT.

This updated version of eyeShare will be able to better accommodate the unique needs of any client. Both the self service portal and underlying automated workflows can be easily customized to address the specific needs and pain points of each business. eyeShare will enable IT organizations to deliver self-service-capable processes so end-users can perform tasks on their own, such as resetting passwords, on-boarding new employees, provisioning new virtual machines, and much more.

Additional features with the new rollout include: Solarwinds integration support for both SAM 6.2 and NPM 11.5, support for PowerShell 4.0, integration with Twilio, new activities, enhancements to the workflow designer, and much more.

“At Ayehu, we pride ourselves at always remaining at the forefront of technological advancements,” remarks co-founder and CEO Gabby Nizri. “With the recent release, we are pleased to continue along this path, providing our clients with the most up-to-date, intuitive and effective automation product on the market.”

The eyeShare version 4.7 is now available. The update will be rolled out to existing customers on July 1, 2015.

About Ayehu

Ayehu helps IT professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents, simplify complex workflows, and maintain greater control over IT infrastructure through automation. Ayehu solutions have been deployed by major enterprises worldwide, and currently support thousands of IT processes across the globe.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide