Imagine a company like “Acme Widgets.” Its computer network consists of a variety of PCs running Windows 7, Windows 10, or Windows 11. The staff uses different Office software versions, including Office 2012, Office 2016, and Open Office. There are half a dozen antivirus programs and versions that are supposed to be protecting these devices. Connections to printers and wireless networks are as inconsistent and varied as everything else. Unfortunately, the IT team has limited resources to keep up with installing upgrades and providing support for every device and user.
If your system environment is anything like Acme’s, which is fairly typical of small and medium enterprise businesses, you should anticipate a higher risk of equipment failure and cyber security intrusion. Also, expect support costs to be higher and staff productivity lower than teams with fully configured IT assets. Security will be very hard to implement or verify. Your business continuity will certainly be in jeopardy. Now, let’s figure out a better way to manage all these assets for support, security, and productivity.
Holes in the Security Armor
IT asset inconsistencies create the perfect storm for failure. Without the appropriate tools and processes, the IT staff is stretched thin trying to keep up with customer support. Often this means your other employees will be frustrated by the ongoing upgrades, reconfigurations, and issue tickets disrupting their ability to simply get through the day and complete their tasks. To fix this situation you need to know exactly what’s going on and how your business is impacted by this broken process. Start by asking yourself:
- What are the inconsistencies with your company’s devices, software, and configurations?
- How will these issues make it harder for your IT staff to manage and secure the networks?
- What savings will you reap if you remove these inconsistencies and streamline the process?
- What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will you realize by implementing a predictable process?
Tackle IT Inconsistencies
Managing company assets requires having a defined process that works. All enterprise assets and software have life cycles. For that reason, configuration updates need to be managed, maintained, and tracked to maintain a record that can be reviewed for compliance audits and leveraged for timely incident response.
Establishing and implementing a configuration management workflow process will provide you a way to predict and measure all aspects of your IT assets. Apply it to all devices and network environments, including on-premise, remote, and cloud.
The best way to implement this workflow process is to follow best practice control standards which recommend taking a systematic approach to managing, organizing and tracking the changes made to an IT infrastructure.
By utilizing a strict configuration management system, your organization can ensure that your systems are secure and stable. With fewer obstacles, end users will experience greater productivity.
The CIS Control 4.1 standard recommends the following actions to remediate an environment like our example at Acme Widgets: “Establish and maintain a secure configuration process for enterprise assets (end-user devices, including portable and mobile, non-computing/IoT devices, and servers) and software (operating systems and applications). Review and update documentation annually, or when significant enterprise changes occur that could impact this Safeguard.”
You can start by defining a configuration management policy that configures and maintains assets in a secure state. Include automation tools that can help track and enforce the rules you adopt in this policy. The result will be lower IT support costs, a more productive workforce, and a vastly more secure network. The key benefits you will experience include:
- Increased visibility: Identify potential weaknesses where security may be lacking and help mitigate risks.
- Improved productivity: Increase the efficiency of your IT team so they can focus on productivity improvements rather than dealing with potential cyberattacks.
- Enhanced customer trust: Provide assurance that customer data is safe and secure.
CCI Managed Services can help you identify and document the inconsistencies in your IT configurations and start the conversation that leads to a more deliberate, consistent, and secure network. Since 1987, we’ve been your local network management experts. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about how to lock out threats and improve your business performance.