Cybersecurity Tips: 5 Ways to Guard Against Insider Threats

Cybersecurity Tips: 5 Ways to Guard Against Insider ThreatsWhen it comes to the topic of cybersecurity, most of the talk around the industry is about protecting networks and sensitive data from external forces. In reality, the threat from within an organization is equally dangerous. In fact, according to a recent report from Intel, 43 percent of all security incidents (and subsequent data loss) were caused by insiders. That means that nearly half of the risk your company is subject to will come from employees. Are you doing enough to protect against this? Here are five things you can start doing today to create stronger internal security protocols and mitigate risk.

Educate and train employees.

Do your employees truly understand what’s at stake when it comes to protecting the organization’s sensitive data? According to recent statistics, probably not. In fact, Forrester research revealed that 49 percent of knowledge workers are either unaware of or don’t understand the cybersecurity policies of the companies for which they work. And since half of all internal security breaches are caused by accident, this is a key area to focus your efforts.

Make it clear to employees that they are the first line of defense and arm them with the information and support they need to adequately fulfill this responsibility. Educating and training employees can greatly reduce the risk of vulnerabilities due to human error. Even things as simple as creating secure passwords and remembering to log out of the network whenever they leave their workstation can significantly reduce potential exposure.

Test and audit regularly.

Don’t just assume that because you’ve established and communicated clear cybersecurity protocols and educated your employees that there’s no more risk to worry about. A recent study by Forrester indicates that some 42 percent of cyberattacks are initiated by interaction with an internal party, such as a phishing, ransomware and other malware infiltration launched via a malicious email attachment. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are becoming savvier by the day, perfecting their craft by creating material that appears authentic.

Avoid becoming a victim by keeping employees well-versed and up to date on the many different tactics that hackers use and educating them on what to watch for. Then, follow up by performing regular spot-tests and audits to ensure compliance and identify areas where additional training may be warranted. Have employees take pop quizzes on security protocol, conduct routine workplace checks, and perform regular simulated email attacks.

Don’t forget third party associates.

Permanent employees aren’t the only “insiders” that can wreak havoc on an organization’s cybersecurity. Chances are there are a good number of external parties who have some type of access to the inner workings of your company, whether it’s temporary workers, contractors, consultants, vendors or someone else. These third parties effectively widen the attack surface and open additional avenues for cyber criminals to find and exploit vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized network access.

The recent publicized attacks on such big-name corporations as Home Depot and Dairy Queen were ultimately traced back to exposures that occurred with third-party suppliers. This risk can be mitigated by developing and/or strengthening security alliances with all business partners. By working together, sharing experiences and best practices, everyone will become a stronger fortification against all those attackers out there lurking in the wings, waiting to pounce on any opportunity they see.

Fight fire with fire.

You’ve probably already invested in safeguards like network access controls, firewalls, encryption and SIEM technology, but as recent history has proven, this simply isn’t always enough to keep the enemy at bay. Remember – insider accidents are responsible for half of the breaches caused by employees. That means that opening a suspicious email or clicking on a malicious link could provide hackers the foot in the door they need to access your network, systems and data.

Double down on your cybersecurity by incorporating advanced automation technology. This can serve as a force multiplier for your existing incident response strategy so that even those instances where a threat is able to penetrate the hedge of protection you’ve got in place, it can be quickly detected and isolated, thereby mitigating the damage that could potentially be done. An automation and orchestration platform like this will allow you to effective fight fire with fire for a much stronger defense.

Plan ahead for crisis management.

With the relentless number and increasing complexity of incoming attacks, the question is no longer will an organization be targeted, but when. That’s why it’s critical to have an existing plan in place that can be activated the moment a breach is discovered. Start by establishing a crisis management team that includes top leadership from each department (remember – cyber-attacks can occur anywhere, not just in IT).

Your crisis management plan should include details about what actions should be taken, how and when based on various if/then scenarios. It’s also good practice to determine in advance the level of transparency you are comfortable with following a breach. For instance, who should be informed and what information should be passed along pertaining to the incident. It’s also important to communicate with employees so they’re aware of how they should respond should they be questioned about the breach.

With insider threats making up nearly half of all successful cybersecurity breaches, the importance of protecting your organization from the inside out has never been more evident. The steps above should help you fortify your defense – both internally and externally – to keep your network and data safe from potential harm.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

4 Tips for Executing IT Process Automation

4 Tips for Executing IT Process AutomationLeveraging IT process automation within your organization can dramatically cut costs, improve efficiency and service levels and reduce human error. These results ultimately depend, however, on how successful you are at rolling out the right ITPA platform. If you’re planning on bringing automation into your IT department (or workplace on a larger scale), here are four expert tips to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

Develop and document specific goals.

As with anything else, executing IT process automation successfully requires that you have real, measurable goals in mind ahead of time. Determine in advance what you’d like to accomplish by adopting automation. Be as specific as possible, as this will allow you to ascertain progress at various integrals throughout the process as well as identify areas where changes and adjustments can and should be made. Having clear goals will also allow you to more accurately assess your return on investment.

Determine which areas to automate first.

Most organizations that have adopted IT process automation on a larger scale did so in smaller increments. Start by identifying which key processes your company would benefit from automating first and work from there. What pain points are plaguing your IT personnel? Which areas are resulting in the biggest waste of time, money and other resources? Begin by automating something simple, like password resets, and then work your way up from there. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

To effectively identify areas where automation should be leveraged first, perform the following:

  • List out each task and workflow being performed and how frequently
  • Document each step of each process or workflow, including who is responsible and the resources required
  • Identify specific pain points, bottlenecks and other issues that are currently hindering operational efficiency and performance
  • Determine how and where automation could improve some or all of the documented tasks, workflows and processes

Choose your IT process automation platform.

Now that you’ve gained a clearer, more accurate understanding of what you’d like to get out of ITPA and which processes you’d like to automate first, the next step is choosing the right tool or platform. Keep in mind that while selecting a solution that is robust and scalable is important, it’s equally important not to fall for every bell and whistle out there. We recently highlighted some of the hidden costs of supposed “free” automation tools, but you should also beware of products that have way more features than what you actually need, otherwise you will be trading one area of wasted resources for another.

The idea should be to choose a platform that best aligns with your business objectives, including both short-term and long-term goals (i.e. if future growth and expansion is something your organization is striving for, you’ll want your automation platform to be able to evolve and scale up seamlessly). You’ll also want to think about how well the solution you choose will integrate with your existing systems, programs and applications. This will facilitate a more synergistic infrastructure.

Finally, consider how easily and painlessly the solution you’re considering will ultimately be deployed. How much training is involved? Are there existing workflow templates that you can use from the get-go, or will your IT department have to invest a ton of time creating them? Can it be customized to suit your business’ unique pain points? Performing thorough due diligence up front will improve your chances of selecting the ITPA platform that most closely aligns with your organization’s needs and goals.

Jump in and get your feet wet.

With your chosen platform in place, it’s time to officially begin your journey with IT process automation. To prepare, your team should be well aware of the changes that are about to take place and training should have already begun. If you encounter some resistance, don’t be dismayed. Focus on communication and keep reiterating the benefits that ITPA will afford to the IT department (i.e. less time wasted on manual tasks, ability to apply skills to more important projects, etc.) as well as the company as a whole (i.e. self-service automation to reduce routine help desk tickets).

Here’s where the platform you selected will really come into play – or rather, the provider of that platform. You should be able to rely on them for service and support before, during and after implementation. Don’t be afraid to call on them if questions, concerns or issues arise. The more closely you work together, the smoother and more successful your ITPA deployment will go and the sooner you’ll be able to begin taking advantage of the many benefits automation can provide.

Try our IT process automation platform, absolutely free for 30 days. Click here to start your trial today.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

5 Ways to Ensure Maximum Cyber Security with Your Remote Workforce

5 Ways to Ensure Maximum Cyber Security with Your Remote WorkforceWith technological advancements like the cloud, more and more companies across the globe are adopting a mobile work environment. Whether your firm offers the option of working from home some of the time or is entirely virtual, one of the most important things you must consider is how to maintain maximum security with those who are working remotely. Are your cyber security measures up to par? Here are five things you can do to make sure.

Educate them on proper mobile cyber security techniques.

For employees who work remotely, everywhere they go could potentially be an office. The first step toward keeping your data secure is to make sure all employees understand the importance of not working on insecure networks, such as free WiFi at the coffee shop or a home network that isn’t adequately protected. Education and ongoing reminders are key.

Use a VPN on all mobile devices.

Most companies who offer the option of working remotely utilize a VPN to protect company-issued devices. Remember, however, that your virtual team members are very likely also accessing your corporate systems via their personal phones or tablets. To prevent any potential breaches, identify a VPN application and ask employees to install it and use it on their personal devices.

Prohibit the combination of work with personal data.

Transferring sensitive data from a company-issued device to a personal one may seem harmless enough, but it leaves your organization more vulnerable to a potential cyber security attack. Make it clear to all remote workers that all work-related information absolutely must remain solely on company devices. Set ramifications and enforce them as needed.

Make sure software and plugins are up to date.

Cyber criminals are constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, and outdated software as well as plugins, like Java, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader often provide the perfect opportunity. All remote employees should be made aware that even trusted applications, software and plugins should be updated regularly on all of their devices. Whenever possible, automatic updating can help prevent anything from slipping through the cracks.

Employ the latest in cyber security technology.

Finally, whether you have a small portion of workers who are remote or run an entire virtual organization, protecting your sensitive data starts with you. Make sure that you are utilizing all of the technology and tools available to you, including up-to-date monitoring systems and automation for incident management and response. This will provide an added level of protection and improve the chances of keeping your company information secure. It will also ensure that should an incident occur, you’ll be able to address it quickly and effectively to mitigate damages.

The ability to work virtually has broken down barriers and opened up many doors for businesses of every size to access global talent and become more competitive. Unfortunately, there are certain risks associated with these types of policies. Being proactive by implementing the above security measures should keep your remote workers and your organization safe.

Want to strengthen your cyber security strategy? Launch a free 30 day trial of eyeShare today. Click here to get started.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Implementing Self-Service Automation? Here’s What NOT to Do…

Implementing Self-Service Automation? Here’s What NOT to Do…Self-service automation is becoming more of the norm rather than the exception. In fact, at last check, some 56 percent of businesses have implemented or are currently working on some type of self-service initiative. And it’s not only for making your customers’ lives easier. Many organizations are realizing the benefits of providing self-service options to employees to eliminate the need for many of the common issues plaguing the help desk, such as password resets and system refreshes. If you’re thinking about jumping on the bandwagon, here are a few common mistakes you should actively avoid.

Inadequate Communication – If you want your employees to adopt and embrace self-service technology, you have to ensure that they understand its many benefits. This is particularly important for your IT team, some of whom may feel uneasy or even threatened by the thought of automated technology handling some of their tasks. Gain acceptance and buy-in by communicating how self-service options will actually make the lives and jobs of everyone easier and more efficient.

Lack of Knowledge – What types of activities can you – and more importantly – should you be transitioning over to self-service? Many otherwise savvy IT decision makers rush into self-service implementation before they truly have a good understanding of what tasks are most beneficial to automate. Take time to learn about what your IT team is bogged down by and also what areas the end-user might not only benefit from, but actually appreciate the ability to handle things on their own.

Not Choosing a Tool Carefully – Not all self-service automation tools are created equal and if you don’t carefully and thoroughly do your homework, you could end up with a less-than-ideal result. Not only does implementing a faulty tool mean more headaches for your IT department, but the frustration of everyone who has to use it will ultimately lead to disengagement, resistance and/or complete lack of adoption. Make sure the tool you choose is robust, user-friendly and versatile enough to handle both full and semi-automation needs.

Setting and Forgetting It – Like anything else in technology, self-service automation isn’t something that you can simply put in place and never think about again. Not only is it important to keep up to date from a tech standpoint, but it’s equally important to ensure that the system you have in place remains as effective as possible. Conducting regular audits of both the IT department and the end-users can help you determine whether new tasks could be automated or if existing ones could use some tweaking.

Forgetting the Intangibles – Last but not least, maintaining an environment in which self-service automation is embraced and celebrated involves regular assessment and selling of the many benefits this technology provides. When calculating ROI, don’t forget to also consider the intangible ways self-service is good for your organization, particularly how it allows IT to improve its meaningful contribution to the organization. That is a value that can and should be recognized across the board.

What could self-service automation do for your company? Why not find out today by starting your free 30 day trial of eyeShare. No obligation, just enhanced efficiency and better overall operations. Get your free copy now by clicking here!


Want Better IT Infrastructure and Operations Efficiency? Here are 4 Tips

Want Better IT Infrastructure and Operations Efficiency? Here are 4 TipsIT infrastructure and operational efficiency are essential to the ongoing success of businesses in every industry. Yet, even those who recognize this fact may not have yet achieved full maturity in these areas. To remain competitive in the digital age, IT leaders must find a way to improve, enhance and foster the infrastructure and operations of their organization. Here are four tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

Focus on the Right Metrics – Measuring and monitoring performance are critical components of a mature I&O, so it’s important that you develop a good system that puts the right metrics in place. Not only do metrics provide the ability to monitor internal performance for ongoing improvement, but they also arm IT managers with the tools and information needed to demonstrate and quantify those improvements to key decision makers.

Use the tools and technology at your disposal for measuring things like performance and availability, configuration management, workload automation and more to establish a baseline of I&O metrics and measure that baseline regularly. This will allow you to ensure optimum performance which will eliminate the need to keep such a close watch on IT. This, in turn, provides an added benefit of enhanced security and compliance.

Plan Ahead to Achieve Maturity – Understanding that you need to achieve a certain level of I&O maturity and actually putting the right steps in place to do so are two entirely different things. As with anything else in business, if you want to improve and enhance your infrastructure and operations, you must develop and implement a plan for reaching that goal. Try taking a programmatic approach, plotting a course of action that is most closely aligned with your overall business goals and needs.

First, determine the appropriate services that will help you achieve better performance and work toward your goals, always considering the costs associated with said services. Select your services and assemble the right team to help implement and manage those services. A recommended approach is to combine new employees with existing ones and provide the right training and tools to help empower them toward success.

Consider Different Angles & Think Outside the Box – There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to maturing your I&O, nor is there one single approach that works better than others. You may need to combine a variety of new and existing technologies to achieve the desired results. For instance, adding new hardware or servers can breathe new life into existing systems and make them more efficient and effective than they were previously. This marries new with old for optimum results at the right price.

Upon a thorough assessment of the company’s required governance, risk levels and change rate, another option would be to shift workloads from core resources into the cloud (either public or private). The key to this step, regardless of how it is ultimately executed, is to identify areas where existing hardware and systems can be leveraged and which areas will require new technology. Therein lies the answer as to which direction your particular business should head.

Automate, Automate, Automate – Finally, although perhaps most important, IT automation can have a tremendous impact on I&O maturity. One area in particular where automation can be critical is that of support and remediation. These routine, repetitive tasks, which are usually assigned to the IT help desk, can be more efficiently handled by an automation tool, freeing up personnel to focus on more important things. Automation can also reduce errors and improve compliance through enhanced auditing capability.

The requirement on IT groups to provide better, more accurate service with fewer resources is ultimately the need that will drive I&O to perform at its best. This takes maturity, which is something that doesn’t come naturally, but must be achieved through careful, strategic planning and ongoing measurement using the right tools, such as IT automation.

Could your I&O use an overhaul? Help bring the maturity of your infrastructure and operations to a whole new level by implementing IT automation within your organization. Start your free trial today.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

Attn: MSPs – Your Profitability Depends on Winning the IT Automation Race

Attn: MSPs - Your Profitability Depends on Winning the IT Automation RaceAnyone familiar the role of a managed service provider (MSP) understands all-too-well the pressure of finding a way to do more with less. It’s really all about efficiency and scalability. The more effective your performance, the more success you’ll achieve. The problem is, achieving this isn’t always easy, particularly when there are tight budgetary constraints involved, because for many organizations, hiring additional staff simply isn’t feasible. The solution? IT automation, and leveraging it to win the race and position yourself firmly at the head of the pack.

Most MSPs agree that when it comes to intense competition and budgetary restrictions, the best and only solution is to invest in IT automation. In fact, this is even the case with enterprises that do not struggle with cash flow issues. Even those that can afford to hire additional staff, doing so will inevitably impact the bottom line. By taking a step back and allowing technology to do the heavy lifting, on the other hand, scalability is achieved without the added expenditure of increasing personnel.

Outsourcing or relocating operation centers to other areas of the world may provide a slight advantage in terms of overall cost, but it won’t necessarily level the economic playing field. The ultimate goal of every MSP is to successfully deliver as many quality services as possible while simultaneously utilizing the fewest resources…hence, doing more with less. Tapping into foreign markets and moving your IT department will not achieve this. Only IT automation will.

That said, it’s also critically important that key decision makers perform their due diligence when choosing an IT automation product to employ. Those who have been most successful in this so-called “survival of the fittest” contest have provided some insight into what to consider during the selection process. Most importantly, keep the concept of scalability in mind. Make sure you choose a product that will be able to bridge the past with the future, integrating with legacy systems while also adapting with your changing business needs as they occur. Flexibility is key.

It’s also incredibly important that the automation platform you choose is robust but easy to implement and use. Remember, you’re going to be relying on this system to handle not just simple, repetitive tasks but also complex workflows that are critical to the success of your entire organization. Do your homework and make sure the product you ultimately select is comprehensive enough to handle anything and everything your business may need, not just today but in the future as well.

There’s no question that IT automation is fast becoming the central part of many successful MSP operations, and only those organizations that embrace and act on this will continue to remain competitive. Don’t get left behind! Get your MSP on track to a profitable future by investing in IT automation.

Get started today by launching your free 30 day trial of eyeShare. 

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

The Role of Robotic Process Automation in Zero-Based Budgeting

The Role of Robotic Process Automation in Zero-Based BudgetingAnnual budgeting got you down? If so, you’re most certainly not alone. In fact, this business priority is one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety among executives, particularly those who are working under the concept of zero-based budgeting. If you’re not familiar, the Wall Street Journal defines this type of budgeting as, “requiring managers to plan each year’s budget as if no money existed the previous year, rather than using the typical method of adjusting prior-year spending. That forces them to justify the costs and benefits of each dollar every 12 months.” Let’s examine this a bit more closely and also take a look at how robotic process automation might also play a role.

The zero-based budgeting methodology was recently thrust into the spotlight thanks to a handful of major acquisitions that occurred. As a result, many experts believe that it’s a sign of things to come for businesses of all sizes. So, even if you’re not planning any mega-billion dollar merger or takeover, becoming more familiar with this new type of accounting is probably wise. Equally important, understanding what tools are available to you that can make a transition to zero-based budgeting more feasible and much less stressful is also key.

Anyone with P&L budget responsibilities is already well aware of the increasing pressures and heavier workloads placed on them at certain times of the year. Zero-based budgeting takes this to the next level, requiring an annual reevaluation of every single operational component of the business. This includes, but is not limited to, justifying payroll and operating expenses, both your own and those under your authority. Are you comfortable that the numbers on paper will accurately demonstrate how hard you and your team are working day in and day out?

Obviously proving value within any budget isn’t anything new. What is different with zero-based budgeting, however, is the degree to which the “powers that be” will assess and weigh that value. This is where robotic process automation can be a game changer. And RPA is nothing new either. In fact, the use of software robots in the business world has been around for quite some time, though it was primarily automation of IT processes and incident management that took center stage. Today, robotic process automation is making an impact on the business world as a whole, and its value can especially be felt in the budgeting process.

Think about it. By shifting most or all of the menial, repetitive tasks that are bogging you and your team down on a daily basis over to machine, you’ll accomplish two main things. First, you’ll dramatically improve efficiency. The work will get done faster and without the risk of costly human error. Second, your human personnel will be freed up to focus their skills and resources on more critical business matters. Both of these things can have a positive impact on how the so-called bean-counters view the output of you, your team, you department or your division. Couple this with the fact that RPA will also lower operational costs and you’ve got a winning formula for success.

Why does RPA fit so well with those adopting zero-based budgeting? Simple. Because the ultimate goal of this methodology is to identify and eliminate unjustifiable expenses. And it’s not about robots replacing humans. To the contrary, this type of accounting often helps to pinpoint specific operational tasks and workflows that are negatively impacting productivity and therefore costing the company too much money.

Take, for example, a person who is responsible for onboarding new team members. This is only a small portion of his or her daily job, and it’s something that’s completely justifiable because it’s necessary. What isn’t justifiable, however, is the fact that said employee is spending an additional 15% of his or her time fixing errors. By honing in on that area of inefficiency and introducing RPA into the process, the workflow is thereby streamlined, errors are reduced, time and resources are better allocated and the budget is back on track.

Whether or not your organization is currently utilizing zero-based budgeting or may consider doing so in the future, robotic process automation is something that can benefit any accounting methodology. After all, what company wouldn’t benefit from greater efficiency, higher output, fewer errors and overall cost savings all around?

You can get ahead of the curve and start realizing these benefits now by launching your free trial of eyeShare. Click here to download your copy today.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

IT Executives: How to Avoid Burnout

IT Executives: How to Avoid BurnoutThe IT field is fast-paced and highly stressful, especially for those in executive roles. It can be easy to become overwhelmed under the pressure and end up burning out from being stretched in many directions. In fact, roughly 25% of IT execs leave a job after just one year and 15% exit in year two – which is around double the average turnover rate. The good news is there are certain things you can do to help prevent this from happening to you.

Take time for yourself after a significant event.

Things like major system outages and security breaches can and will occur on your watch, despite your best efforts. Managing these situations and navigating the aftermath can be likened to what first responders experience after responding to an accident or other major event. The only way to truly recover from these situations is to take time to rest and recharge once the dust settles. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.

Don’t be afraid to delegate.

The best IT executives know how important it is to hire talented individuals to work on their team. When you place an emphasis on hiring well, you’ll be able to comfortably delegate some of your workload to others without worrying that it will be handled properly. Sometimes just getting a few things off your plate can be enough to help you keep pushing forward. As an added bonus, your employees will learn to master new valuable skills that will serve them well in their careers.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.

Many IT executives end up crashing and burning because they try to do too much and overextend their abilities. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Leverage the technology that’s available to you, particularly IT process automation, which can dramatically reduce your workload and that of your employees while simultaneously improving productivity and efficiency, reducing errors and saving your organization money. It’s a win-win!

Make communication a top priority.

IT executives often feel isolated even when they are surrounded by qualified teams and individuals. This can rapidly lead to becoming overwhelmed and frustrated and make it difficult to handle their own challenges, let alone lend a hand to others. Communicating openly and regularly, both within the department and with others throughout the organization, can reduce these feelings and create a much more dynamic, connected infrastructure. It can also reduce much of the pressure IT execs are under, allowing them to do their jobs more effectively.

Recognize that it’s a thankless job.

When it comes to the work IT executives are responsible for, silence is actually a sign of success. When your ultimate focus is on preventing security breaches and your team, armed with tools like automated cyber security incident response, is able to successfully keep these risks at bay, it’s highly likely that your victory will go unnoticed. Recognize this and measure and embrace your successes in other ways, such as reviewing your mean time to resolution (MTTR) and developing best practices to further enhance your organization’s IT performance. It’s a thankless job, but the feeling of accomplishment you’ll get at the end of the day will be well worth it.

If you’re an IT executive that’s on the brink of a workplace breakdown due to stress, frustration and just feeling like you’re being overworked, take a step back. Put the above strategies into motion and over time you’ll be better able to handle anything that’s thrown your way without becoming overwhelmed or burning out.

If you could use some additional help from a technology standpoint, IT process automation is available to use FREE for 30 days. Click here to start your trial today.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

IT Best Practices: A Better Way to Manage System Alerts

IT Best Practices: A Better Way to Manage System AlertsOne of the most critical roles of an IT professional is managing incoming alerts and incidents in the most efficient and effective manner. Doing so protects the organization from incoming security threats and also helps to reduce internal issues, such as system outages. Yet, with hundreds if not thousands of incoming alerts pouring in on a daily basis, many of which are false positives, what’s the best way to avoid becoming overwhelmed and risking the chance of critical issues slipping through the cracks?

Most corporations employ the use of some type of monitoring system, which allows technology to do much of the work in keeping an eye out for problems – both external and internal. The problem is, these monitoring systems are often not effective in streamlining the actual process of managing these incoming alerts. In other words, it’s very much like having only a piece of the puzzle, which is somewhat effective but missing some important components to really get results.

Enter IT process automation. When integrated with a monitoring system, such as Solarwinds, automation can take incident management to a whole new level. Working in collaboration together, these tools help to identify, analyze and prioritize incoming alerts and also ensure that notification is sent to the appropriate party in the event that a serious issue is detected. What’s more, notifications can be customized based on preference, with escalations being sent via email, SMS or telephone.

In addition to bringing more order to the process of incident notification, integrating automation with your monitoring system can also vastly improve efficiency of incident response. Automated workflows can be created to open, update and close tickets in the service desk, escalating those that require human input and automatically handling those that can be resolved electronically.

The results of such a collaboration of tools is a closed-loop solution that is much more efficient and highly effective in reducing response and resolution time, which means less downtime and faster mean time to repair (MTTR) for your organization. Let’s take a look at a real-life example of how integrating a monitoring system with IT process automation can help streamline the incident workflow:

  1. The monitoring system detects an incident within the IT infrastructure and sends out an alert.
  2. The alert is picked up by the automation software, which immediately triggers a predefined workflow.
  3. As part of this workflow, a trouble ticket is automatically created in the service desk.
  4. The appropriate party or parties receive notification via their preferred method (email, SMS or phone).
  5. The system waits for acknowledgement and response from the network admin.
  6. Upon response, the ITPA workflow will execute the appropriate task to address and correct the problem.
  7. The ITPA system then sends notification to the network admin advising of the recovery and automatically updates the service ticket accordingly.

This process essentially closes the loop on incident management, taking the entire process from start to completion with little need for human intervention. So, while utilizing a quality monitoring system is essential, leveraging the power of IT process automation as a complement to that system can truly bring your IT operations to another level.

Ready to get started today? Check out our available solutions or download your free trial to get started right away.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Cyber Security Best Practices: Assembling the Right Team

Cyber Security Best Practices: Assembling the Right TeamWhen it comes to strong cyber security it’s important to not only have the right technological tools in place, but also a dedicated team that is experienced and prepared to handle any incoming breach with the utmost precision. Assembling this team can involve choosing existing IT personnel to take on new roles, or it may require that you hire externally – depending on your current resources. In either case, there are certain guidelines that should be followed in order to ensure a smooth and effective implementation.

The first step in putting together a cyber security team is gaining a clear and accurate understanding of exactly what this group will be responsible for. This will help you further define each team member’s individual duties, who will handle what, which points of escalation will exist and how the group will work together. The more thought and preparation you put into this task, the better equipped your organization will be to prevent and address any and all incoming threats swiftly and effectively.

Successful cyber security teams will:

  • Closely monitor all systems for breaches
  • Consistently audit and assess existing strategies to identify any areas of potential vulnerability
  • Stay abreast of and proactively prepare for emerging threats
  • Research and evaluate new software options
  • Conduct regular penetration testing
  • Document all security incidents
  • Develop and continuously improve on best practices for cyber security
  • Serve is a central point of communication for both incoming reports of cyber security incidents as well as to disseminate critical information about security incidents to the appropriate parties
  • Promote awareness across the entire organization about the critical importance of cyber security and how to proactively prevent incidents from occurring
  • Continually hone and update current policies, procedures and systems to ensure maximum protection

Once you have a clear picture of what’s expected of your cyber security team, the next step involves getting them prepared and arming them with the resources they need to do their jobs most effectively. To accomplish this, you’ll need to begin by thoroughly training them on the location and proper use of existing cyber security tools that are currently in place within your organization. You’ll also need to facilitate access to critical data and any relevant information so that in the event of a potential threat, the situation can be handled without unnecessary (and costly) delays.

Your cyber security team should also be briefed on the appropriate notification and escalation policies. In other words, who is responsible for handling which tasks, who should be notified in the event of a legitimate security breach and which personnel will be tasked with making critical decisions. Having the right technology in place, such as an automated incident response strategy, can significantly improve in this area, as such a platform can provide a central point of communication and offer visibility for better ownership. It can also ensure that the right parties are always notified automatically to prevent costly bottlenecks and mitigate damages.

The cyber security team infrastructure will ultimately depend on the size and nature of your organization. Obviously, for smaller firms, there may be a good deal of shared duties and having a dedicated team may be more challenging. In these instances, automated incident response tools are especially helpful in bridging the gap and addressing areas of staff shortages. For larger enterprises, most cyber security teams are made up of at least the following key roles:

  • Team Lead
  • Incident Lead
  • Associate Members (IT contacts, management, legal representative and/or PR specialist)

Once you’ve got your team in place and have outlined the roles as well as their duties and responsibilities, the last step is developing a documented strategy for managing the incident response process. We recently shared an article entitled The Best Way to Manage Your Company’s Cyber Security, which includes some helpful advice and best practices for establishing a solid defense against cyber-attacks.

Finally, make sure that the team you’ve assembled and the cyber security policy you have in place is adequately supported by the right technology. Today’s online criminals are far more sophisticated than those of the past, and their attacks are relentless. The only way to effectively protect your firm is to meet them where they’re at – essentially, fight fire with fire, by using tools like automated incident response.

Is your cyber security as strong as it should be? Don’t take chances. Download your free trial of eyeShare today and start creating a hedge of protection that will stand the test of time.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response