Are you prepared for a disaster? IT Process Automation can keep your business ready

Are you prepared for a disaster? IT Process Automation can keep your business readyAre you prepared for a disaster? Using past events to develop a recovery plan, training your staff and using IT Process Automation can keep your business ready for anything.

With many recent natural disasters occurring around the world, from earthquakes to wildfires, it’s important to develop a proactive plan for your company should you face a similar disaster or emergency. These types of events often cause offices to close, which means costly downtime and service disruptions. So, how does a business effectively respond and maintain control when they are forced to be away from their data centers? Here are a few helpful tips.

Learn from past events

If you were affected by Sandy, or another recent catastrophic event, what was the sequence of events that went wrong? What could you have done better to prepare for and weather the storm more effectively? Analyze the answers to these questions so that you can be prepared to develop and implement a better plan in the future.

Develop and document a detailed disaster recovery plan

Use events of the past and brainstorm other potential problems that might occur in the future to define specific procedures that you can turn to should any such situation arise. Be as thorough and detailed as you can be so that any scenario you can anticipate is accounted for and addressed.

Train your staff

Once you have a documented disaster recovery plan, introduce your personnel to it and begin training and dry run tests. The more everyone becomes familiar with the plan, the quicker and more smoothly it can be implemented if and when the time comes. Remember to train new staff as they come on board too so everyone is always up to speed.

Automate your important systems tasks

Many natural disasters result in office and facilities closure, which means that you won’t necessarily be on hand to control your systems in the wake of an emergency. IT Process Automation allows you to maintain that control from wherever you are, letting you respond and make critical decisions as needed. ITPA can be leveraged in a number of ways, including:

  • Setting up automated alert and escalation procedures (with two way communication)
  • Preparing for capacity; increasing your computing resources in the event that one of your sites is down
  • Preparing remediation procedures for when incidents and problems occur, such as service or application failures, disk space issues, etc.
  • Developing “what if” scenarios that allow you to make decisions upon receiving alert messages and be able to remotely respond, such as activating your DR plan when the time is right to move from failed service/server to its backup
  • Assembling a set of processes in case your Help Desk gets a flood of users who call for help. These automated processes can cover common requests such as password resets, unlock AD accounts and more.

Facing a natural disaster can be detrimental to a business, especially if they’re not adequately prepared ahead of time. The ensuing downtime and systems outages can result in loss of revenue and even business closure. These simple tips will help you to be prepared and ready to face whatever storm, disaster or emergency may come your way so that you can remain in control at all times and focus on getting your business back up and running with little to no impact when the dust settles.

Is your business prepared for an emergency situation?

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

More IT Process Automation Needed for Security Incident Response

Security Incident ResponseWe’ve mentioned it in many past articles, but unfortunately for Target, their massive security breach in 2013 has become somewhat of a poster child for poorly executed security incident response. Investigations of the breach revealed that multiple alerts of the malware infection were sent. They just weren’t addressed as they should have been…and we all know how that ended for the retail giant. But what does this mean for other businesses? Should you be worried about becoming the next ship to sink at the hands of hackers?

The answer to that question lies in the harsh reality of cyber-attacks. According to a recent report by threat detection vendor Damballa Inc., a typical organization faces an average of 10,000 security events each day. Some larger firms may face upwards of 150,000 events on a daily basis. Furthermore, the report also found that most of the companies surveyed are managing nearly 100 infected machines daily. Given such massive and eye-opening numbers, it’s easy to understand why these breaches occur. There simply are not enough trained people to handle such an influx of events.

Since bringing in additional human capital isn’t a viable option for most businesses, the best solution is to incorporate IT Process Automation into the security incident response process. In fact, 100% of the participants in the Damballa survey agreed that automating manual incident response is the key to managing security needs moving forward.

One solution many enterprises have adopted is a security information and event management (SIEM) strategy. While this is certainly a good place to start, relying solely on an SIEM plan will likely leave businesses more vulnerable than they may realize. Damballa’s CTO, Brian Foster, describes it this way: “With SIEM, you’re getting partial pictures of an elephant, but never the entire elephant.” Much time is also often wasted on false positives and whittling down which incidents truly require attention.

As a more favorable alternative, Foster recommends taking a more comprehensive approach to security incident response by introducing IT automation into the process. The ideal scenario would involve not just pinpointing legitimate alerts, but doing so in a way that is proactive. If an enterprise can implement a security incident response strategy that includes IT Process Automation and can manage incidents in a way that mitigates issues before they develop into an actual problem, the process will be a resounding success.

IT Process Automation can also save a company massive amounts of wasted human capital. According to the 2013 Ponemon Institute Report, it takes IT personnel an average of 90 days to discover a security breach manually. Once discovered, it can then take four months or more to actually resolve the issue. With the right technology in place, the time it takes to discover incidents can be reduced to just one day. As a result, that organization can realize a reduction in “man-days” of approximately 8,633. That’s a pretty compelling statistic.

Obviously, there’s no way to automate everything. Human input will always be needed to some degree. But by incorporating automation into a strong security incident response plan, your business will be much better equipped to deal with the many security challenges it will inevitably face moving forward.

Don’t take chances with your enterprise security. Protect your data and your future with IT Process Automation.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Incident Response: A Common Pitfall that Can be Avoided

Incident ResponseThese days, it seems we cannot turn on the news or go online without learning about another major security breach. The most recent and disastrous being those that occurred to a number of popular retailers, like Target and Home Depot. What is the common thread amongst those affected by cyber-attacks? According to investigators, the problem can be linked back to a lack of incident response in nearly every single case.

Yet despite the fact that countless news articles and reports have indicated this as the root problem, many organizations are still not taking proactive measures to protect themselves, their employees and their customers. There are plenty of reasons why, but the main ones seem to be:

They believe their current protection is adequate. Many IT professionals feel that the plan they already have in place is capable of thwarting any would-be attacks. The problem is, most of these existing plans only include preventative measures, such as malware. As the entire world learned from Target’s experience, this isn’t always enough to get the job done. Incident management that involves identifying, verifying, prioritizing and sending appropriate notification of incoming alerts is essential.

They don’t believe it can or will happen to them. Some companies feel that because they are smaller, they aren’t at risk. This is simply not true. Others – such as those in Europe – feel that they aren’t as targeted as businesses in other countries, like the US. The fact is, the only reason more breaches are reported in the US is because the government requires it. There are a similar or equal amount of incidents occurring in countries across the globe.

They don’t understand the real damage an attack can have. Some otherwise intelligent professionals put blinders on when it comes to the subject of cyber-attacks. Sure, retail giants felt a huge impact – as did their customer-base of millions. It’s important to note, however, that smaller organizations, even those who do not have to worry about sensitive client data, have valuable assets that could prove to be disastrous if they fall into the wrong hands. For instance, internal employee information and even trade secrets could be stolen if the company is not properly protected.

For these reasons (and countless others), many businesses fail to recognize the importance and overall value of a quality incident response plan. If you’re reading this and happen to fall into this category, let’s take a closer look at some of the many benefits of developing and implementing an incident response strategy for your business.

  • Reduce downtime. What impact would an entire system shut-down have on your business? One thing is for certain, the longer it takes to bring things back up and running, the worse the consequences will be. By managing incidents more effectively, issues can be responded to immediately, ultimately reducing the amount of downtime your organization will have to face.
  • Improve recovery time. Just as important as bringing systems back up and running is the task of rolling out a recovery plan. It only stands to reason that the more downtime, the more extensive the potential damage. Because quality incident response lets you address issues right away, the time and resources it takes to fully recover are limited.
  • Stay ahead of problems. With the right incident response plan (preferably one that involves IT process automation to field incoming alerts), you can take a more proactive approach to handling potential security breaches. This can mean avoiding any downtime altogether and protecting precious assets in the process.

The key to success, of course, goes well beyond knowing the benefits and even rolling out a plan. It takes ongoing testing to ensure that all pistons are firing on all cylinders at all times. This will further protect your firm from incoming risks and place you one step ahead of the problems that are befalling others all around the world.

With new, more sophisticated cyber-attacks being hatched almost daily, there’s never been a more important time to invest in a quality incident response strategy. It starts with the infrastructure of prevention and IT process automation to ensure a closed-loop process. This will vastly reduce the risks of anything slipping through the cracks (like what happened to Target) and keep your business protected over the long-term.

Don’t wait until your company has become a victim of an online security breach. 

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

When it Comes to IT Security, Incident Response is Key

Incident Response

When it Comes to IT Security, Incident Response is Key

As many well-known organizations learned the hard way this year, security breaches can not only impact the bottom line, but they can severely damage your reputation. If people feel they cannot trust a retailer like Target or Home Depot without risk of their financial information being compromised, they simply won’t do business with them. It’s enough to put even the most successful company on the road to ruin. The problem is, security breaches like this happen on a much smaller scale by the millions each and every year.

Organizations of every shape, size and industry are vulnerable to hackers and would-be online thieves who prey on any opportunity they can get their hands on. So, how can businesses protect themselves from such a disaster? The answer lies in quality incident response.

What many companies mistakenly do is place all their trust in detection, like malware. But, as the entire world learned following the Target debacle, this strategy isn’t always fool proof. In fact, if you’re not handling incoming incidents the right way, you could be placing your business in the same position as the others that have traveled down this dangerous and costly path.

Simply put, when it comes to maintaining the integrity of your sensitive data, prevention is always the best approach. Of course, there is no way to achieve 100% protection. You can come close, however, by designing a complementary incident management strategy that marries prevention with sound IT security practices. This ensures that in those instances when attacks manage to slip through the security measures that are in place, the incident response process will serve as a second line of defense.

Tips for Setting Up Your Own Incident Response Team
  • Choose the right personnel. This can include employees from within the organization who are at different levels and possess various skillsets. Generally speaking, most incident response teams are made up of workers with the following credentials:

o   System Administrators
o   Network Administrators
o   IT Managers
o   Software Developers
o   Auditors
o   Security Architects
o   Disaster Recovery Specialists
o   Chief Technology Officers (CTOs)
Maintain accurate logs of applications, networks and operating systems. These should be checked daily by network administrators to ensure that all software is logging properly. Use of log analysis programs is also recommended

  • Logs should be automatically backed up and stored not only locally, but also externally. This is essential to proper recording and analysis
  • Ensure that all incidents are documented, both for auditing and compliance purposes as well as for future enhancements to IT best practices
  • Use quality software products that can improve the process and visibility of incident ownership
  • Incorporate  IT automation into the alert management process to improve prioritization, delivery and escalation of critical incidents
  • Establish a balance between reactive services (incident management and documentation) and proactive services (security audits, intrusion detection system maintenance, security strategy development, pre-incident analysis)
  • Set and implement schedules for all proactive service activities
  • Enlist a third party to conduct penetration tests at least once a year
Additionally, the team tasked with handling incident response should be made up of the following subsets:
  • Team Lead – member in charge of all incident management activities
  • Incident Lead – member who reports directly to the Team Lead and coordinates all incident responses
  • IT Contact – coordinates communications between the Incident Response Team and IT Department
  • Legal Representative – member possessing experience in IT security policy and incident response tasked with mitigating risk of litigation
  • Public Relations Officer – handles all communications regarding security incidents

Given the fact that cyber risks are at an all-time high, and with criminals learning newer, more sophisticated ways to hack, there has never been a more critical time for businesses to employ proper security measures. The most effective way to do so is by developing and implementing a quality incident response strategy. The tips highlighted above should provide a good foundation and help establish your organization in a much more secure position moving forward.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Using IT Process Automation to Enhance Continuous Response

security-breachWith all of the latest news reports about massive data breaches resulting in the sensitive financial information of millions of consumers being compromised, the topic of cyber security remains a priority for organizations of all shapes, sizes and industries. It’s also becoming more evident that the best offense in these situations is not just a preventative approach, but also successful, continuous incident response. Let’s take a look at what this entails and how IT process automation can enhance it further. When it comes to cyber security, it pays to plan ahead and think outside the box. Businesses must find ways to outwit and outmaneuver would-be cyber attackers by being smarter and better prepared. And it’s not just the big players that can benefit from enhanced security. In fact, as a recent Forbes article points out, even smaller businesses can now take advantage of a more secure existence, provided they leverage excellent data management and the quality continuous response resources available to them.

Times Have Changed

It used to be that installing anti-virus software and putting up a solid firewall were enough to keep most serious attacks at bay. The problem with this strategy, however, is that there are highly sophisticated organizations at work that are capable of getting around just about every prevention-first security measure in existence. To counter this, Forbes interviewed Shuman Ghosemajumder, vice president of strategy at Shape Security, who recommends taking an approach that protects your sensitive assets from the inside out. One of the things that businesses across the globe are now facing is the fact that viruses are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cyber security. This has essentially ushered in a new dawn of safety measures, and a new way of thinking overall. Instead of having to keep up with cyber threats, technology can be used to turn the tables and make these criminals keep up with the enhanced security strategies that organizations are putting into place. It allows businesses to stay one step ahead of their attackers.

Knowledge AND Action Are Required

Simply acknowledging that there are hacks and data breaches in just about every business and industry to some degree is not enough to keep your organization safe from the dangers that lurk beyond the perimeters of your IT infrastructure. It’s this knowledge, coupled with the appropriate action – namely, continuous response – that is critical to keeping precious data safe. It also requires a combination of ongoing analysis that allows firms to learn from past experiences and use that information to anticipate and prepare for similar situations in the future.

using IT process automation

Most cyber security experts acknowledge that sophisticated hackers are already using IT process automation to help them identify and exploit areas of weakness around the web. The best way to combat this is to beat these criminals at their own game, using the very technology they are to shut them down at every potential point of entry. Using IT process automation to detect malware and enhance continuous response allows businesses to locate and eliminate threats before they have the opportunity to wreak havoc. Like it or not, as long as the internet remains as the information super highway, there will be dangerous hackers waiting to exploit every opportunity they can find. Only those organizations that understand the importance of continuous incident response and leverage IT process automation to maximize their efforts will have the best chance at making it through unscathed. Is your business protected from the many security dangers out there?  

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response


Cyber Security Automation Trends

Security_trendsThese days, the barrage of security attacks on organizations is unrelenting. To cut the time it takes to respond to those attacks, IT executives are turning to security automation technologies. A new IDG Research survey of CIOs and CISOs found that 54 percent of security breach resolutions take days, weeks or months. To speed response and resolution time, 63 percent said they will increase their level of security automation over the coming year.

The problem lies in the fact that, despite heightened awareness of security attacks, the current efforts to thwart such attacks are having little to no effect. These attacks, their severity and their frequency, are not going down, and the time of detection – which 61% of survey respondents listed as days, weeks or even months – isn’t sufficient enough to avoid the inevitable consequences. This is why security automation will begin to become more prevalent in the coming months and years.

While many organizations have already begun to adopt IT automation tools to better manage incoming security threats, others remain unsure and even somewhat leery about turning over such an important task to a software product. The fact is, great strides have been made in terms of IT automation and the old, clunky and risk-laden products of the past have been replaced by highly effective, secure and sophisticated enterprise-class solutions.

One survey respondent, Bruce Perrin, COO and acting CIO for Phenix Energy Group, is fully on board with using automation to manage security monitoring. In fact, he believes it’s absolutely necessary, citing the fact that humans are inherently flawed, making the task of handling incoming attacks an especially risky one. He also believes that one of the biggest barriers to businesses embracing automation is fear of change. The problem with this, he points out, is that: “today’s security operations are all about anticipating new problems, not just dealing with old ones”.

While 56% of survey respondents cited cost as their main deterrent from shifting to automation, most of the other barriers listed indicate an underlying problem of insecurity and lack of knowledge about the security process as opposed to any type of technical issues. This is understandable, given the fact that today’s security processes are complex and present potentially severe consequences in the event of failure.

The key to overcoming these obstacles lies in educating decision makers about the many benefits the come with deploying a security automation solution. The most notable advantages include optimizing the time and efforts of security experts, which is a costly resource, as well as minimizing the impact a security breach can have on an organization’s finances and brand reputation.

Of course, achieving optimum results will ultimately depend on choosing the right product. Not all security automation solutions are created equal. Larger corporations must seek out products that are designed to support sizeable enterprises, can be easily integrated with the existing infrastructure and are scalable to account for future growth and organizational changes.

The best solution is one that is easy to implement, simple to learn and completely customizable to each organization. The company can start off automating security tasks and then work their way up accordingly. The product should also effectively combine automation with remote human decision making to ensure the highest level of attention. Most importantly, the right product will allow an organization to cut incident recovery time by up to 90 percent, ensuring that security attacks are identified and addressed in as timely a manner as possible.

With security threats becoming more advanced and dangerous, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the measures being taken currently are not sufficient to mitigate the associated risks. What’s needed is a simple but sophisticated product that can quickly and accurately detect potential security breaches so that they can be handled immediately – not days, weeks or months later. The way of the future is security automation.

Is your business prepared to handle a security attack? Start protecting yourself with automation today. Download a free 30 day trial or call 1-800-652-5601 to get started.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response