In the March blog, we talked about Managed Services and why they are a cost-effective and secure choice for ensuring the safety and smooth-running of your business network. This month, we want to take a deeper dive into one area of managed service, Network Monitoring. To help us understand monitoring from a practical perspective, as to how it works and the scenarios in which it protects your staff, technology, and data resources, we’ve asked BTS owners Mike Dorr and Matt Rice to answer a few FAQ’s.
We are able to monitor so many different aspects of client networks, data and resources these days. These tend to come under the categories of Network Security, IT Performance, Business Software Application Health and Inventory/Asset Tracking.
Here are the 6 most common things we at BTS are monitoring for our clients.
- Virus infections
- Anti-Virus Software updates
- Hard drive health
- Hard drive space
- Windows Updates
- Memory issues
Let’s break these down a bit with our questions.
Q: We can monitor not only a server, but each computer on a network. That’s a lot, especially for larger clients. What are we seeing about the health and security of each of these systems?
Mike: Windows and 3rd party updates are a big part of our monitoring service. Keeping in front of these to make sure the systems are up to date and protected from vulnerabilities is a priority.
Q: How are backups monitored, specifically?
Mike: We have a portal that displays every backup to us. Our monitoring analyst will review all previous night’s backups and proactively look in to any issues before it becomes a much larger problem.
Q: If we receive an alert that a site is down, in other words a server stops reporting, how do we address it?
Mike: Our monitoring analyst will verbally reach out to our support team, while at the same time reaching out to the customer to let them know we are on top of it. A ticket is created with a critical priority so our team knows this is something that needs immediate attention.
Q: We know that Security Awareness Training for staff is especially effective at keeping your network safe from attack via email, but what type of monitoring also assists in this area?
Matt: You definitely want to be monitoring login activity – both on the internal network, and any cloud services such as Microsoft 365. If a phishing attempt is successful and credentials compromised, a malicious login can be detected based on geographical location (logins from other countries or states), odd times of the day, or from unrecognized devices. In addition, we are monitoring for unexpected changes to mail configurations, such as an email forwarding rule to an unknown external email address. This is a common tactic used by bad actors to capture communications.
Q: Could you expand a little on how we are able to monitor declining health of computers on a business network? And how getting ahead of degrading systems shores up the entire network?
Matt: Mainly, early detection of a failing hard drive allows for a proactive approach to replacement. Systems today use technology to detect errors when reading/writing to the drive and will alert when this happens. These errors can indicate failing hardware. On servers, we are able to monitor system fans, temperatures, memory health, and other important aspects. Early detection allows these components to be replaced before it causes downtime.
Q: What’s an example of monitoring Business Software Application Health?
Matt: System resources can affect how responsive an application is. We are able to monitor available resources and correlate reports of slow applications to available resources. Also, patching is important. If applications are not patched, this can lead to security flaws being exposed.
Q: Can you give an example of a real-life scenario where we are tracking Inventory and Assets for a client?
Matt: All of our BizGuard Managed Service clients are included in our asset management tracking, and that is crucial for lifecycle management of IT hardware. We can run reports that show all systems on the network, along with age, manufacturer, model, serial numbers, and warranty expiration. We use these reports to help plan budgets for replacement of aging hardware, and to provide an inventory of all physical IT assets. I often work with municipalities, which need to carefully budget each year, to provide a forecast of IT hardware lifecycles and budget estimates.
Q: It would also be great to have an example of when monitoring saved the day, if you could share one or two?
Matt: Just last week, we had a server alert with a failed hard drive. We were able to contact the vendor and have a replacement shipped. This meant the data was saved. Had another drive failed, all would have been lost. On another occasion, a server’s hard drive was filling up. We were able to move data to another location to free up space. Had this particular server’s hard drive filled up, numerous systems would have gone down.
We are pleased to use our expertise to shed some light on the power of managed services in securing your business network. Does this leave you with further questions on how Network Monitoring can be successfully applied to your specific business? Give us a call at 207-443-9554 or email our team at ManagedService@BTSMaine.com and we’ll be happy to consult with you on best practices and a plan for your business.
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