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Guest View: How to disaster-proof that critical IT architecture

Lawrence Garvin | Dec. 11, 2013
Because protecting networks and their vulnerable components is essential to business survival, it could be catastrophic for IT professionals to sit back and assume their existing disaster recovery (DR) plan is adequate, particularly if it has been in place for some years.

A security information and event management tool (SIEM) will notice every event taking place on a network, and provide a record. In the event of a major attack such as a DDoS event, the SIEM tool will notice unusually high levels of bandwidth use and automatically trigger an alert.

Power outages can have a disastrous effect on an unprotected network. A simple blackout will compromise any data sitting unsaved on a PC, and of course every device must be backed up periodically. A power surge can cause serious hardware losses, with computers, servers, monitors and peripherals at risk of damage.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is the obvious solution, but might not fit into everyone's budget. A UPS will keep hardware running in the event of an outage, and many are able to correct anomalies like power spikes and sustained periods of over-voltage. The problem is cost - a limited budget almost certainly won't have room for every piece of hardware to be connected to a sophisticated UPS. So prioritise hardware in order of cost-to-replace, and make sure mission-critical systems like backup servers are protected over individual components.

Power surge adaptors can be a cheap and easy way of saving expensive hardware from the risk of power surges. A few dollars per machine will buy a switch that cuts out the power rather than deliver a damaging voltage to the device.

A network performance monitor will help detect power issues within the network, giving an accurate picture of demand and consumption. This information can be used to build an accurate picture of an organisation's power consumption and form part of a risk assessment and DR.

According to the Ponemon Institute's report 'The human factor in data protection', 78 per cent of respondents admitted their company had experienced a data security breach resulting from negligence or malicious intent. Sharing passwords, re-using passwords across a range of devices, using unencrypted USB drives and carrying sensitive information when travelling are all preventable factors which could lead to a serious data breach.

Changing passwords periodically, encrypting shared storage devices and simply educating staff to the risks can all help to mitigate human threats to an organization's IT architecture.

Lawrence Garvin is Head Geek, SolarWinds.


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