Do you understand your network security?
10-08-2012 - John Hatcher
Never has efficient network management been more crucial to the productivity of an organisation than in this increasingly competitive business world. In the first four months of 2011, Expedia’s Trip Advisor, email marketing provider Epsilon and Sony’s online entertainment services, all suffered as a result of network security breaches. Managing a network involves anticipating crucial security problems and solving them quickly and effectively when they occur.
Recent research has shown that confusion is rife across the IT industry when it comes to understanding network security solutions and how companies actually monitor who is connected to their networks. Without the right infrastructure in place at a base level, companies risk wasting valuable resources and leaving networks open to unauthorised access or accidental disconnection. Even with advanced software protection systems installed, if the physical infrastructure is not correctly protected and monitored a large security risk is left exposed.
Despite the conception that Intelligent Infrastructure Management (IIM) is a well-known means of managing the physical infrastructure, the research from Nexans showed that, it is widely misunderstood.
IIM solutions use hardware and software to manage the physical infrastructure and integrate information from the network layers to provide information about the active devices which are connected to the cabling. IIM can automatically discover and monitor network connectivity in real time, which ensures network connections are secure and that connectivity documentation is always 100% accurate.
However despite the fact that IIM can also provide an up to date asset register of connected devices, 50% of survey respondents who reported having IIM were still conducting resource heavy and time consuming physical audits.
IIM: Security and insight
An IIM solution can provide the location of a device anywhere in the building. Using information from the automatic detection of IP based devices, and by correlating that with the traced connectivity path, an IIM solution provides a unique view that is not available from traditional network management or service desk applications. IIM systems can then display the exact outlet location where the device is connected on a CAD floor-plan, which means a simplified physical discovery process for a technician.
In the event of an unauthorised connection, an IIM solution can thus provide valuable forensic information allowing managers to physically pinpoint an offending device within seconds of an incident occurring.
IIM solutions can also allow automatic responses to perceived threats, for instance quarantining any unknown MAC addresses that attempt to connect to the network or turning off switch ports in response to an unauthorised connection. Some systems can also integrate power management capabilities in the rack to disable unused power sockets which prevent unauthorised equipment being added.
Getting the nuts and bolts right
Nowhere is the ability to quickly and effectively monitor and manage risk more important than in the complex and ever expanding environment of data centres which are responsible for managing the technology necessary to maintain the vital information flow in a business. By significantly reducing the administrative burden on data centre and network managers, IIM solutions provide real cost benefits to organisations.
Data centre and network managers need to be thinking about all the layers of security they need to use to ensure their networks are properly protected and resources are not unnecessarily wasted. From nuts and bolts to sophisticated management solutions, the right combination of security solutions means network and data centre managers have all the information they need at their fingertips and the insight to run fast, effective and safe networks.