Tomorrow is the first day of the Caribbean hurricane season, and that means: named storms, power outages and the need for IT emergency preparedness. And now is a great time to make sure your disaster toolbox is well stocked, before a major calamity strikes. And as a federal IT manager, you always have to be prepared for the unnatural disaster, such as a cyber-attack.
The scary thing is that even the idea of creating a disaster recovery plan has been put on the backburner at many government agencies. In fact, according to a federal IT survey we conducted last year, over 20 percent of respondents said they did not have a disaster preparedness and response plan in place.
We suggest that you make sure you have a plan in place, and follow these best practices:
Continuously monitor the network. Here’s a phrase to remember: “collect once, report to many.” This means installing software that automatically and continuously monitors IT operations and security domains, making it easier for federal IT managers to pinpoint – or even proactively prevent – problems related to network outages and system downtime.
Continuous monitoring can give IT professionals the information needed to detect abnormal behavior much faster than manual processes. This can help federal managers react to these challenges quickly and reduce the potential for extended downtime.
Monitor devices, not just the infrastructure. You need to keep track of all of the devices that impact your network, including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
For this, consider implementing tools that can track individual devices. First, devise a whitelist of devices acceptable for network access. Then, set up automated alerts that notify you of non-whitelisted devices tapping into the network or any unusual activity. Most of the time, these alerts can be tied directly to specific users. This tactic can be especially helpful in preventing those non-weather-related threats I referred to earlier.
Plan for remote network management. There’s never an opportune time for a disaster, but some occasions are just, well, disastrous. For example, when a hurricane knocks out electricity in your data center and you’re stuck at home thinking, “Yeah, right.” In such cases, you’ll want to make sure you have software that allows you to remotely manage and fix anything that might adversely impact your network.
Remote management technology typically falls into two categories: in-band and out-of-band remote management. Both get the job done for their particular circumstances. And, there are some instances where remote management is insufficient. It’s perfectly adequate when your site loses power, or your network goes offline, but in the face of a major catastrophe – massive floods, for example – you’ll need onsite management. In many cases, however, remote management tools will be more than enough to get you through some rough spots without you having to get to the office.
Each of these best practices, and the technologies associated with them, are like backup generators. You may never need to use them, but when and if you do, you’ll be glad you have them at your disposal.
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