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7 Must-Ask Questions about Cyber Security Incident Response

7 Must-Ask Questions about Cyber Security Incident ResponseOne only needs to read the latest headlines in the news to recognize the growing risk of cyber threats. With big name brands routinely falling victim to online criminals and millions of consumers subsequently suffering the consequences, it’s becoming abundantly clear that cyber security incident response is something every business must make a priority. Not sure where your organization stands? Here are 7 questions you should be asking to avoid becoming the next victim.

1. Who is responsible for my organization’s cyber security?

First and foremost, is there a team in place that has cyber security incident response
on their to-do list? If not, it’s time to sit down with your IT department and get things moving in the right direction.

2. Are we fully aware of what’s at stake?

In order to protect your organization’s infrastructure, it’s critical that those in charge of cyber security incident response have a clear and accurate picture of precisely what the network and other assets to be protected include. In other words, you must know ahead of time what’s at risk if you are to take a proactive approach to security.

3. What kind of plan do we have for monitoring threats?

In most cases, cyber incidents can be prevented or addressed before they have a chance to cause significant harm – provided, of course, that there’s an adequate plan in place for identifying these threats in a timely manner.

4. What happens to those threats once they’re detected?

The reason why many organizations have fallen victim to cyber criminals isn’t due to lack of threat detection, but rather lack of action taken once a risk is identified. Leveraging tools like automation can help fortify cyber security incident response by ensuring that every single incoming threat is assessed and prioritized.

5. Do we have the resources to handle cyber-attacks?

Another issue behind successful cyber security breaches is the fact that even the largest organizations simply do not have the manpower to keep up with the number and complexity of incoming risks. Again, this is where automation technology can complete the puzzle – without having to hire additional staff.

6. What is our policy for preventing future attacks?

An important yet often overlooked component of cyber security incident response is the identification and documentation of best practices for handling future problems. This can help thwart future breaches before they can succeed.

7. Where do we begin?

If you’re not completely confident you’ve got the right answers for any of the above questions, chances are your organization is dangerously vulnerable. Contact us today and let’s discuss how our tools can help establish and/or strengthen your cyber security incident response plan so it’s most effective.





eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response




Not Sure Where to Start with IT Process Automation? Take it One Step at a Time

Not Sure Where to Start with IT Process Automation? Take it One Step at a TimeThe concept of IT process automation may seem pretty straightforward – you take manual tasks and workflows and allow them to be executed by a technological tool instead of human workers. The problem is, getting started with automation can often feel overwhelming. Where should you begin? What should you automate first, second and so on? To make the process a little less intimidating, we recommend taking it one simple step at a time, as follows.

First, make a list of all the tasks and workflows that are currently being done manually. Is your IT help desk being buried under daily requests for routine things like password resets and system restarts? What things are taking up the most time and resources? This will provide a framework for implementing the IT automation process.

Next, ask yourself (or your team) whether anything on the list can be comfortably eliminated. Are there any time-wasters that are obsolete or could be incorporated into other tasks and workflows? There may be no point in automating these things, as the result would just be futile. Cross off what you can on the list and move on from there.

Now, prioritize the list by what items are most important and could be best optimized by IT process automation. Keep in mind that even the simplest of tasks could be the highest on the list based on the amount of time and resources they’re taking up on a daily basis. By automating these things first, you can dramatically improve operations and free up skilled personnel to focus their talents elsewhere.

With your to-do list of automatable tasks, the next step is choosing the right tool for the job. There are hundreds, if not thousands of IT process automation tools available on the market today. They are not all created equal, however. If you’re just starting out with automation, you should be looking for easy to use, out-of-the-box products that offer robust features and the ability to grow as needed.

Once you’ve chosen the right IT process automation product for your needs, the final step (at least in the beginning stages) is automating one or two key functions from your list. Not only will this allow you and your team to become familiar with the automation technology, but it will also provide insight into what other areas to leverage automation for next.

As you become comfortable with and more confident in automation, you can then move on to the next step of automating more complex tasks and workflows. As with anything else, these things take time before they become an integral part of operations. By taking a more incremental approach, you’ll be well on your way to a successful implementation at every level. It starts with taking that very first step.

Interested in IT process automation but still not sure quite where to begin? Check out these common tasks that are perfect for automation.





5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation




4 Questions to Help Determine if You Need IT Process Automation

4 Questions to Help Determine if You Need IT Process AutomationIT process automation is becoming a much more widely adopted tool for organizations of just about every size and industry. By leveraging technology, businesses are able to maximize productivity and efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs and eliminating mistakes. Still, some companies are still teetering on the fence of whether or not to invest in ITPA. If you’re among the latter, here are 4 important questions that will help you make the best decision for your organization.

1. Does your IT team still depend heavily on manual tasks and processes?

One of the greatest benefits IT process automation affords is the ability to automate manual tasks and workflows that would otherwise need to be handled by IT personnel. Not only are routine and manual activities a huge waste of time, but they’re also extremely prone to error. As a result, IT departments can easily become bogged down by day to day drivel and may miss the signs of potential incidents. This also hinders innovation. ITPA can effectively address all of these issues.

2. Are multiple systems and the existence of silos making it a challenge to achieve standardization?

For optimum performance, IT systems should be able to work seamlessly with one another. Additionally, all departments within the organization should be linked rather than separate. Problems arise when legacy systems and applications are not properly integrated and each individual function exists in its own silo. The right IT process automation tool should effectively bridge these gaps and create a more unified, standardized and efficient infrastructure.

3. Are you finding it difficult to meet departmental demands due to limited staff or budget?

Today’s IT departments are being expected to do more with less, a challenge that is no easy feat to overcome. If you’re finding it difficult to keep up but don’t have the budget to increase your staffing numbers, the answer may be IT process automation. Because this tool shifts all the manual tasks and workflows to technology, existing staff is then freed up to focus on other things, whether it’s improving their own skill sets or developing and implementing a strategy for growth. And all of this can be accomplished within just about any budget.

4. Are you facing high attrition rates in the IT department?

Monotony at work does more than just slow down productivity and efficiency levels. It can also be a huge killer of motivation and therefore lead to higher turnover. This can cost your organization a great deal of money over time. By leveraging IT process automation, the monotonous nature of IT work is all but eliminated, making way for creativity, innovation and growth. In a highly competitive industry such as IT, these opportunities can provide the leg up your organization needs to attract and, more importantly, retain top talent.

If you’ve asked yourself these questions and honestly answered yes to any of them, your organization would be a good candidate for IT process automation adoption.

Want to give it a try and see for yourself? Download your free 30 day trial today.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Tips from Gartner: Overcoming 5 Common IT Process Automation Challenges

Tips from Gartner Overcoming 5 Common IT Process Automation ChallengesGartner is one of, if not the most respected resources in the IT realm. As part of their commitment to improving the industry and the lives of those who are a part of it, the research firm often puts together helpful tips and tricks. Recently, Gartner shared some of the more common IT process automation pitfalls and, more importantly, what steps IT professionals can take to overcome these challenges and realize success. Here is a summary of their findings.

Challenge #1: Shortage of Both People and Skills

The most common complaint organizations list when it comes to IT process automation is related to a lack of skilled professionals. What many fail to recognize, however, is that automation itself can be the key to overcoming this obstacle. While locating IT professionals that are proficient in ITPA is a good starting point, adopting the right product can be just as effective. Once the basic tasks and processes are automated, existing IT personnel will then be freed up to focus on improving their own skillsets, eliminating the need to hire additional staff.

Challenge #2: Lack of Existing Documentation

One of the biggest tasks when adopting IT process automation is identifying those key areas where ITPA would be most effective. The problem comes into play when existing processes aren’t properly documented. Without adequately documented and repeatable approaches, the results can be frustratingly inconsistent. The solution to this dilemma is simple: start documenting now. It can be challenging at first, but it’s a necessary component of successful ITPA rollout.

Challenge #3: Cultural Resistance to Change

It’s human nature to resist change, particularly when that change is viewed as detrimental to one’s livelihood. That’s why it comes as no surprise that Gartner’s findings revealed the third most common challenge organizations face when attempting to implement IT process automation is the resistance of existing personnel. The key to this – and any change management initiative – is identifying what the sources of concern are and then systematically addressing them, one by one. Alleviating fear will dramatically improve the process for everyone involved.

Challenge #4: Lack of Process Standards, Discipline and Governance

Without standards, the entire purpose of IT process automation is lost. Otherwise, organizations run the risk of implementing automation processes that are flawed from inception. In other words, time, money and other resources will be wasted on doing the wrong thing more efficiently. This is why creating a process standard is essential. Furthermore, leadership and governance roles should also be defined to help establish best practices; review, validate and optimize processes; and recommend ongoing improvements.

Challenge #5: Lack of Traction and Loss of Focus

Your IT process automation roll-out may have started out great, but lately it seems to have lost its steam. This is why documentation and communication are so important. Specific business objectives should be defined from the get-go (Gartner lists the top objectives for ITPA as efficiency, cost reduction, risk mitigation and predictability). There should also be a strategy developed that includes milestones for measuring success and keeping everyone on track.

If you’re planning on adopting IT process automation for your organization, improve your chances of success by avoiding the above problems.

To learn more about ITPA, check out our free eBooks or download your 30 day trial today.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




How to Change Service Account Password on Multiple Hosts – Automatically

One of our customers came to us and asked how they can change service account password on multiple Windows servers instead of the default log on system account (e.g., Local System account). The customer had to change the logon credentials across all servers as part of application’s configuration and security policies changes.

As you can guess, we were called for the rescue and naturally were too lazy to do this manually. So we use our IT process automation software to automate this tasks and turn it into a ‘Change Service Account’ template for reuse. And we know it’s already being used by some other IT folks for automating service log on credentials change of multiple backup systems, application services, print services and more.

What does this process template do?

  1. Reads server list –to find out all target servers for service log on change. This can be done by reading an Excel or text file, running an Automated SQL query, or query  Active Directory server inventory.
  2. Sets service log on credentials – changes the account log on credentials (domain, user name, and password) while looping through the server list.
  3. Execute on a scheduled basis or on demand (open ticket) when needed.

Naturally, this workflow can be enhanced to include any other IT activity exists in Ayehu eyeShare IT process automation, and sending alerts in case any of the service account log on credential changes failed.

See the Change Service account password process in Action:

Try it yourself today! Download eyeShare trial version

4 Tips for Better IT Operational Efficiency

4 Tips for Better IT Operational EfficiencyIT operational efficiency are fundamental to the ongoing success of businesses of every shape, size and industry. Yet, even those who recognize this fact may not have yet achieved full maturity in these areas. If you want to remain competitive in the digital age, you must find a way to improve, enhance and foster the infrastructure and operations of your organization. Here are four tips to get you started.

Focus on the Right Metrics

Measuring and monitoring performance are critical components of a mature IT operational efficiency so it’s important that you develop a good system with the right metrics in place. Not only do metrics provide the ability to monitor internal performance for improvement purposes, but they also arm IT managers with the tools and information needed to demonstrate 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  IT operational efficiency metrics and measure that baseline regularly. This will allow you to ensure ongoing performance and activity, which will eliminate the need for users to keep such a close watch on IT. This, in turn, provides an added benefit of enhanced security and compliance.

Plan Ahead to Reach Maturity

Understanding that you need to achieve a certain level of  IT operational efficiency 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  IT operational efficiency, 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.

IT Automation

Finally, although perhaps most important, IT automation can have a tremendous impact on IT operational efficiency 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 IT operational efficiency 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 IT operational efficiency use an overhaul? Help bring the maturity of your infrastructure and operations to a whole new level by implementing IT automation within your organization.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




How Robotic Process Automation is a Game Changer for Outsourcing Fees

How Robotic Process Automation is a Game Changer for Outsourcing FeesWe’ve all heard the rumblings: how robotic process automation (or RPA for short) is going to eliminate human jobs. How someday in the not-so-distant-future robots will become the quintessential “heartbeat” (ironically) of the future workplace. And while experts agree that RPA will most certainly change the way work is done, most also agree that humans are here to stay. One area that RPA is having a particularly huge impact on, however, is outsourcing. Here’s how.

The first and most significant way that robotic process automation is revolutionizing the way outsourcing providers conduct business is in terms of efficiency. Businesses of every shape, size and industry have been leveraging external resources to handle their IT services for decades now, and the playing field is extremely competitive. Aside from price, the one key differentiator is service level. Those providers who are able to deliver the best support at the most attractive price win out.

To achieve this goal, outsource providers need the ability to perform at the highest capacity levels while also minimizing cost. Robotic process automationo helps accomplish this by allowing technology to do the heavy lifting. Not nly does work get done faster, but it’s also much more accurate. As a result, external service providers are able to offer their clients maximum productivity at a remarkably affordable rate that is not only better than handling IT in-house, but also more competitive on the outsourcing realm.

Of course, along with the enhanced performance comes a significant change in fee structure. Because robotic process automation is making the jobs of outsourced professionals easier and more efficient, the savings these providers are realizing will inevitably begin being passed on to their customers in the way of lower fees. And not just as a one-time adjustment, either. Thanks to the promise of even better RPA technology in the near future, many outsourcing firms have already begun offering new service agreements that extend multiple years and guarantee continual decreases at future intervals.

New customers will likely reap the greatest benefits of RPA efficiency, at least in terms of lower fees. This is because existing clientele are typically more dependent on their outsourcing partners, which can be used as leverage to keep fees at a higher level for renewal contracts versus brand new ones. Disengaging and starting over again with a new provider solely on the basis of cost is often not a feasible option. That said, there should still be a significant reduction in future contract pricing if negotiated properly.
Without questions, robotic process automation is a game changer, particularly for the outsourcing industry. With increased efficiency levels, satisfaction will continue to rise even as operating costs continue to decrease, inevitably changing the landscape for both sides of the equation.

Want to learn more about Robotic Process Automation?

Why not try it for yourself with a free 30 day trial?

Click here to get started.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Is IT Process Automation Really a Big Deal? Morgan Stanley Thinks So

Is IT Process Automation a Good Idea?While the concept of IT process automation has been all the buzz lately, many organizations – particularly those of an enterprise level – are only just beginning to fully recognized its benefits. One noteworthy mention is the investment firm Morgan Stanley. Executives there viewed ITPA (along with analytics and mobile technology) as so important, in fact, that the company recently invested $500 million into these key business initiatives.

The brokerage firm is home to nearly 20,000 financial advisors and more than four million customers who have collectively invested over $1.7 trillion in assets. Senior technology experts employed at the firm stated that there was a glaring need to improve service levels on both sides of the coin – for employees as well as clientele. As a result, they chose to earmark a significant amount of operational budget toward the areas of analytics, mobile and IT process automation.

The investment came as a direct result of Morgan Stanley’s overall business objective to accelerate growth, particularly in the area of managed accounts. The company’s president also cited the goals of expanding capital-markets partnerships and bolstering banking/lending capabilities as reasons for the shift toward more advanced technological tools. The executive team further recognized the need to improve stability and functionality of the firm’s platform.

The change came about a few years ago, following the company’s consolidation and subsequent joint venture with Citigroup. Following this integration, there were a number of significant technical glitches, including several that impeded transaction completion and trade processing. While spokespeople for Morgan Stanley initially claimed to have these issues ironed out, there remained evidence of the need for a more enhanced, secure and cohesive system.

One of the main reasons behind the recent investment in IT process automation has to do with the sheer amount of customer data that Morgan Stanley has access to. The new tech tools allow for an enhanced data architecture, which allows the brokerage firm to take advantage of this wealth of information. Better data analysis allows financial advisers to make better recommendations to their clients. Furthermore, with tools like self-service applications, clients are now able to make better investment decisions on their own.

According to an anonymous spokesperson, the $500 million investment has been broken down into three key areas, with IT process automation receiving the biggest allotment of $250 million. Among the benefits of this enhanced technology are improved search capabilities and the ability for advisors to more quickly and accurately identify available security options based on such criteria as credit rating, yield, geography and more.

The bottom line is, in a highly saturated and intensely competitive field like investments and wealth management, finding a way to stay a step ahead of the other key players is critical. Morgan Stanley believes that by investing in advanced technology like IT process automation, the company is essentially putting the pieces in place to build a better brokerage platform for its clients as well as its advisors. This technology will provide the competitive advantage and enhanced scalability necessary to remain a front-runner in the industry.

Could IT process automation help your organization outperform the competition? Find out today by downloading your free 30 day trial





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




What’s Standing In the Way of You Using IT Process Automation?

What’s Standing In the Way of You Using IT Process Automation?Unless you’ve been residing under a rock for the past couple decades or so, you’ve probably heard about IT process automation. You may have even read some articles (hopefully from us) and seen some pretty impressive stats on how much this technology can improve IT operations, and business performance as a whole. Yet, you still haven’t jumped on the automation bandwagon. Why not? Well, let’s take a look at some common stumbling blocks (and how you can get over them).

Problem: Lack of Staff and/or Management Buy-In

One of the biggest reasons companies still haven’t adopted IT process automation is simple: resistance to change. This often occurs in two key areas. First, IT personnel sometimes feel uneasy because they believe automation will eliminate their jobs. Second, executives don’t see the value in investing in such technology.

Solution: If you’re going to get people on board with IT process automation, you have to find a way to demonstrate its value and benefits. You must position it in such a way so as to ease the concerns of staff members who are nervous about losing their jobs. You must also calculate ROI to provide quantifiable proof of why this technology is well worth the investment.

Problem: Lack of Money

Another popular excuse for businesses who have yet to leverage the power of IT process automation to their benefit is cost. Many still mistakenly believe that in order to get a quality automation product, they must dish out tens of thousands of dollars.

Solution: While a good product should always be viewed as an investment rather than an expense, the good news is there are solutions out there that are remarkably affordable and still provide exceptional benefits to the business. It’s really just a matter of understanding your needs and finding a product that best matches those needs while also fitting in with budgetary restraints. It’s totally doable.

Problem: Lack of Understanding

A simple failure to truly understand what IT process automation is and, more importantly, how it can be applied to one’s specific needs and pain points is another common reason for not taking the leap.

Solution: The key is sitting down and identifying which areas of the business are a waste of time, money and other resources. Once these areas have been pinpointed, the next step is matching an automation product to each need. This provides a clearer understanding of the specific benefits, which makes it more realistic to envision and ultimately jump on board.

Problem: Perceived Lack of Time/Resources

Finally, another routine excuse for not adopting IT process automation is the idea that IT simply doesn’t have the time and/or resources to bring such a solution live. The team is simply way too busy.

Solution: To the contrary, automation is designed to take much of the heavy lifting off the shoulders of overworked IT personnel and free them up to focus on other, more important things. While there will certainly be a transition that requires integration, implementation and training, the resulting ability to do more with less makes it well worth the effort.

Are you still kicking around these tired excuses for not using IT process automation in your own department or company?

Consider the solutions and learn how the right automation product can make your organization more successful.

Check out these 10 time consuming tasks you can (and should) start automating today and then download your free 30 day trial to get started.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Why Did You Get Into IT? What First Drew You To This Field?

 

Why Did You Get Into IT What First Drew You To This FieldFor me, it was the sense of amazement at how computers could relieve people of manual work assignments that would be better described asmonotonous drudgery.

In the early 80’s, the classic example of this drudgery was manually recreating an entire financial model on paper to accommodate fluctuating interest rates, varying inflation rates, or some other variable that had a ripple effect on all the numbers.  Depending on the size of the financial model, the variable in question could generate hours (or days) of hand recalculations to produce just one alternative version.  And of course, all this work was done with pencil & a calculator.

Then along came the electronic spreadsheet, and suddenly, real-time what-if analysis was a reality, enabling financial analysts everywhere to ditch their pencils & calculators for PCs & software.  Spreadsheets not only saved people enormous amounts of time, they made it easy to instantly see the results of changed values, which led to a lot more what-if analysis, and presumably better informed decision-making.  In other words, spreadsheets freed up people to focus on more challenging, strategic, and intellectually stimulating work. It’s long forgotten now, but back then, this value proposition changed people’s perceptions of PC’s from “nice to haves” to “must haves”.

To this day, the IT field continues producing products that free up people from grinding gruntwork so they can focus on more important matters.

One area of IT benefiting from a surge of gruntwork-eliminating innovation is the data center.  Classic data center activities such as network monitoring, virtualization, security operations, help desk, and many other tasks are all being significantly automated today by a class of software called IT Process Automation (ITPA).  ITPA takes the routine, repetitive IT tasks that techies secretly despise, and automates them, eliminating wasted time, errors, inconsistency, and costs associated with performing those functions manually.  As a result, freed up technicians are able to finally focus on more complicated back-burnered issues, making much better use of their skill sets, and leaving them feeling far more fulfilled with their jobs.

When I watch seasoned data center veterans with 20-30+ years of experience get their first glimpse of ITPA in action, their sense of amazement rivals my own from seeing a spreadsheet the first time.  Most data center operators have no idea that automation for their domain has become so robust, and yet so easy to use.

I suspect that after all these years, the amazement at computers relieving people of manual, monotonous, drudge work will continue drawing people to this field. IT process automation is the “must have” for today’s data centers, and promises to do for techies what spreadsheets did for financial analysts.

What could IT process automation do for your organization? The best way to find out is to give it a try! Download a free 30 day trial today to get started.

 

Guy NadiviAbout the Author: Guy Nadivi, the Director of Business Development for Ayehu, has previously authored articles on business and technical topics for media outlets such as Forbes & The Jerusalem Post.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide