32 IT Monitoring tips for every business

Information Technology has become a need of almost every type of a business. With the evolution of technology, life has become very easy but everything has a cost. Improper monitoring specifically related to IT domain can cost a billion dollars loss to an organization.

So, when it comes to security of a business, IT monitoring is required to secure the confidential data related to almost all type of businesses.

Here are few IT Monitoring tips that can help you secure your business from issues like cyber theft, power break down, improper use of confidential data by employees etc.

1 - Deploy monitoring tools

Deploy monitoring tools on all levels of your infrastructure - from Network switches to database servers - to avoid security breaches or major breakdown. Different monitoring tools are required on every level.

You can use your own customized scripts for monitoring purposes or you can implement dedicated IT monitoring tools for this purpose. For an instance, a script can be written for generating an email if any server goes down at any point or it can be further simplified and automated using a monitoring tool.

2 - Take assistance from Vendors

Stay in contact with the support team of your product’s vendors that you are using for monitoring purposes in order to avoid a major breakdown in short or long term. Share the problems that you face while deploying the monitoring tools with the support team and get their feedback over it.

Their past experience with other customers could be beneficial for you as they can give you guidance for deployment in an effective way with minimal risk factor of any sort of failure due to human error or pre-requirement fault.

3 - Deploy an Alert and Notification System

Use Alert and Notification System at every level to ensure monitoring of whole infrastructure of the organization. This alert system could be in the form of email alerts, SMS notification or an alert on your team communication app such as Slack.

An IT monitoring and alerting system will keep you aware about what is going wrong at any level within the infrastructure and help you to counteract those issues as soon as they surface.

4 - Keep the alerts specific to right person

Alerts and Notification System should be structured in an efficient way to avoid any “Important alert got skipped” situation by a relative person due to multiple irrelevant notifications.

For an instance, if multiple people are getting alerts about every failure and only one or two of them are concerned about the type of failure occurring at a time, then other will consider it as a false and won’t focus on it. As a result, there is a possibility of skipping some important alert in case there are multiple irrelevant alerts residing in one’s inbox. To avoid this situation, keep the alerts specific to right person.  

5 - Optimize the alert system

Alerts and Notification system should be Intelligent enough to cut down the extra alerts in case if failure occurs at some root level.

For an instance, if some failure occurs in the main network switch, and all other switches are dependent on it, then it is understood that all the switches will fail eventually.

In such situation, only one alert for the main switch should be received with detailed message of the impact of failure on other switches instead of spamming emails / notifications with alerts for all switches.

6 - Correlate the impacts of occurring events

Team of experts should correlate the impacts of incidents occurring in short term in order to avoid upcoming major issues. Analysis of occurring issues, failures and their impacts over other domains and components could help to take preventive measures to avoid any possible major failure in future.   

7 - Avoid single point of failure

Try to avoid single point of failure situations while deploying monitoring environments. Deploy the monitoring agents in such a way that they monitor their peer agents as well along with a specific component.

In this way, if any failure at monitoring agent level occurs, then you’ll get notified by other monitoring agent about the faulting agent.

8- Test the monitoring tools

Stay regular to Testing and Monitoring of Monitoring tools as well.

If some failure occurs in the monitoring tool that you have deployed for the monitoring then it might cause some severe harm as you might miss some important notification.

To avoid such situation, test the monitoring tools on regular basis to ensure that everything is working right

9 - Never enable Alert filters

Avoid enabling filters to Alerts system in order to avoid skipping and missing out on any mission-critical situation. Sometimes, a minor failure in some small component could result in some major failure depending upon the situation.

No circumstance is ignorable when it comes to monitoring of a growing organization. Any such situation could result in major loss. So never consider any alert less important.

10 - Documenting everything is a key to better tomorrow

Documenting everything i.e. history of old issues, monitoring flaws and the improvements you made, is a key to better tomorrow. You can use this documentation for tracking purposes.

This documentation will also help you to deal with some major recurring issues in future in a more efficient way.  

11 - Re-evaluate the monitoring strategies

Re-evaluate the monitoring strategies on the basis of analysis and documentations that you made for tracking purposes, regularly. It is very important to re-evaluate and update your monitoring strategies as technology is evolving every day.

You should also re-evaluate your strategies on the basis events occurring within your and your competitor’s organizations. As learning from other’s mistakes costs nothing but learning from your own, can cost a lot.

12 - Define authentication rules

Use proper authentication systems at all levels in order to keep things on track. If a wrong person gets access to some critical data then it could cause some really big loss at times. So define proper rules for authentication of employees to specific domain in order to avoid any such situation as we all know that prevention is better then cure.

13 - Communicate with Security experts

Communicate with Security experts on the basis of your business requirements in order to get a better understanding of how you can improve security mechanisms within your organization. They could give you a better feedback on how to improve monitoring system within your organization according to your specific business needs.  

14 - Analyze your competitors work

Always keep an eye on your competitors that what sort of security and IT Monitoring techniques they are using to secure their businesses. Such types of analysis are very important for the betterment of any sort of business.

In this way, you’ll get a clear picture of what is “missing in your plate”.  This will help you to get better understanding of the market place and will help you to improve your security system as well.

15 - Implement Formal Internet Security approaches

Implement Formal Internet Security approaches while establishing your information security network. Also use ISO predefined policies, which is a worldwide standard, related to information security network.

Implementing these techniques on the infrastructure level will minimize a lot of the security risks on long term basis and will help you to make your business more secure.

16 - Maintain backups of data

Maintain backups of all of your data that is processed over the network. In fact, maintaining backup of local data is also critical because once a network breach occurs, then all data including local data is at equal risk.

So maintaining backups of all data on regular basis is the best practice any organization can adopt.

17 - Conduct background screening

Conduct background screening of the communication of employees over the network in order to avoid some suspicious activity which can harm your organization. Trusting your employees is important but never trust any employee beyond the limits because security breach is mostly initiated from within the organization. So a little surveillance is very important over all employees

18 - Train your employees

Provide basic training to your employees in order to avoid any security breakdown due to human error. Human error is the most common reason of the security breaches worldwide.

Sometimes the impact of these errors is ignorable but other times it could cost a lot. So provide basic training to your employees as per your business domain to avoid such scenarios.

19 - Avoid unknown email attachments

Avoid unknown email attachments until verified from the sending resource. Now a day, it is a very common technique of sending Trojans and viruses as an attachment via emails.

So, one should be very careful about attachments received via emails. Clicking those attachments could install a Trojan in your system which can result in drastic damage.  

20 - Use Virus scanners

Always use Virus scanners for the monitoring of all systems in order to detect any unknown or hidden virus residing on your system quietly. These scanners not only detect the residing viruses, but also help to remove them from your system. So, it’s a very good practice to have some scanner installed on all the systems within your organization.

21 - Update all the software regularly

Regularly update all the software that you use including scanners to remain updated with the latest security needs of time. As the technology evolves, new type of Trojans, viruses and security breaching techniques also flourish with the evolving technology.

In order to keep things in control, all software’s vendors keep on updating their security policies and techniques and send the security update notifications to their users. It is highly recommended to install those security updates to minimize the evolving security risks.

22 - Keep things in your hand

Try to keeps your sensitive data on your own personal network as third party service like cloud, could have their own security issues which you might be unaware of.

You can’t be fully aware of all the monitoring techniques they are using and flaws they have in their monitoring strategies.

So it’s better to keep sensitive data on your own personal network so that you can monitor that data accordingly.

23 - Keep an eye on suspicious events

Beware of social Engineering tricks as there is always a need of common sense while dealing with networking environment. All of the above mentioned techniques cannot ensure 100% security as software engineers around the world keep on experimenting new hacks to intrude into different networks. So besides all the precautions, still there is always a need of keeping an eye on suspicious events.

24 - Report generation on server’s reboot

Automate process of report generation on every restart of servers either scheduled or not. That report generation can be done via customized scripts or through the help of a monitoring tool.

You can include all type of information that you require on an unexpected reboot of the server like reason of failure, source of failure, source of reboot etc. This report will help you to analyze the exact reason of reboot.

25 - Automate disk subsystem monitoring

Automate the process of monitoring for disk subsystem in case of any corruption in the documents residing on your hard disk. For SQL this can be done by using a new feature introduced in SQL since 2005.

It has added a new table in the msdb database with the name of suspect_pages. This table logs any pages which it suspects might be bad or corrupted. Page id is logged in the table along with the suspected reason

26 - Enable alerts for idle connections to database

Use an alert system to close extra and unnecessary connections opened with the database because many applications do not close their connection with the database properly resulting in improper utilization of resources.

Moreover, databases have sensitive information and these open connections could become a source for some unauthenticated resource to play with that sensitive data. Alerts will be generated if any connection is open and idle for specific time.

27 - Automate backup process on servers

Use techniques like SSIS Package to centrally monitor SQL Server backups. It will automatically detect the last backup time and some other information from all of your servers and then schedule a new backup on the basis of the collected information.

In this way, monitoring of data consistency on the backup servers becomes more efficient.  

28 - Automate rebooting of hanged servers

Automate rebooting of servers when any server is hanged or down for a specific time via different monitoring scripts. These monitoring scripts will monitor the server’s uptime and if any server is hanged or down for more than pre-defined time, then it will force the servers to reboot or restart

29 - Monitoring of server room

If you have a proper server room, then it should be monitored properly by a dedicated resource on daily basis in order to avoid any breakdown.

Server’s breakdown could be very critical as it can halt all of the activities going on within your organization so it is necessary to keep all conditions i.e. temperature, power supply etc. in control

30 - Cut down the irrelevant access to Server room

Only relevant person should have access to server room and servers. If an irrelevant resource gets direct access to the server room then it could result in some major loss.

Servers are very important to keep things going within an organization so these preventive measures and policies are very important.

31 - Deploy surveillance system

Use devices like cameras to monitor all the activities going on within the server room because this is the most sensitive part of the organization and requires extra surveillance as a lot of sensitive data resides on those servers.

Secondly, one major break down in the server room can result in halting almost all activities going on within the organization

32 - Implement authentication strategies

All servers should be secured with authentication strategies like strong passwords, thumb print authentication etc. to avoid any irrelevant access to the sensitive data.

These strategies will play a vital role in improving your security system to achieve data confidentiality. These strategies will also help you to achieve accountability as only the authenticated person will be accountable for any sort of unpleasant situation related to this domain.

Conclusion

The effort and time invested in deploying monitoring environment can save future of a growing organization. By using all the above mentioned tips, you can secure your business but still there is always a possibility of loop hole as technology is continuously evolving day by day. So try to stay connected with the evolutions in the field of IT to keep things in your hand.

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