It's hard to put a price on the value of real-time network monitoring today, given the current regulatory and risk environments. Organizations not only have to stay compliant with guidelines set by the Payment Card Industry, the Federal Information Security Management Act, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but they also have to fend off insider threats, keep tabs on a widening range of endpoints, and detect anomalies, all to prevent data breaches. Businesses in the finance and government worlds are particularly aware of security's importance to their everyday operations.
Last winter's incidents at several U.S. retailers underscored just how many network vulnerabilities there are. Some of the victim organizations were technically compliant at the time of their breach, which shows the need for network monitoring solutions, such as Intermapper, that go beyond baseline requirements by providing real-time alerts and clear, comprehensive visibility into networks.
"Many organizations just do not believe a data breach will happen to them, so when it does happen it's a real shock," Rowland Johnson of Nettitude recently told the BBC. "The biggest challenge organizations have is that they do not keep enough information about what's going on in their network."
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How Network Monitoring Enhances Security and Lowers Risk
Most firms won't have to deal with the dramatic circumstances—a compromised remote-access HVAC system and subsequent malware distribution to point-of-sale terminals—of the 2013 Target breach. Instead, they may face subtle, everyday challenges to compliance and security on their networks. Examples of such challenges may include:
- Unauthorized changes to the SNMP access control lists of routers
- Delayed distribution and deployment of patches
- Inefficient network configuration change management tools
- Mismanagement of SNMP community strings when new devices are introduced
- Over-reliance on manual processes, which increase the probability of human error leading to data theft or the introduction of malware
For example, it's highly inefficient to use scripts alone to manage a modern enterprise network. Many administrators have to account for a surge of new IP-enabled devices while also aligning changes with a bevy of regulations. Automation and anytime/anywhere access to network maps are excellent answers to problems like this one. A modern network mapping and monitoring tool not only lowers the risk of something going wrong, but it ensures that someone will notice if there is, in fact, an alert.
With a solution like Intermapper, administrators get a real-time view of all hardware and software on their networks. There's plenty of room for customization; custom probes can be set up to monitor anything that has an IP address. At the same time, probes don't hog bandwidth, meaning that network performance isn't sacrificed to compliance and security.
Ultimately, enabling a secure, compliant network is about catching small issues early so that they don't become bigger ones later on. With the right tools, administrators can:
- Continuously check the status of equipment
- Automatically discover new devices
- Visually model traffic flows
- Set up custom notifications for each event type
- Review historical data to contextualize current charts
In the modern world, compliance will be an ongoing challenge. But it doesn't have to be difficult. Network monitoring provides the visibility to stay on top of activity and automate management.