Why do we overlook the importance of patching?

The importance of patching is often forgotten about, with IT teams finding the time to keep user, network and security devices up to date often impossible!

The overall security of an infrastructure should be top priority, and one of the most effective preventive measures against potential threats is patching. Patching is the process of repairing system vulnerabilities which have been discovered applying to operating systems, servers, desktops, software applications, firewalls, mobile devices, the list goes on!

Unpatched systems are an easy target; with new vulnerabilities being discovered constantly, it is common for cyber criminals to exploit, target and gain entry to networks. We only have to look at the fallout from the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks to understand how effective using vulnerabilities on unpatched systems can be. A report from the Online Trust Alliance stated:

There were over 160,000 security incidents impacting businesses in 2017 – almost double the amount reported in 2016!

This is due to cyber criminals becoming more tech savvy in exploiting vulnerbilities, and perhaps businesses becoming too busy to focus on their network security.

Of course, proactively preventing such vulnerabilities causing problems is preferred to reactively attempting to mop up after a security incident. This is where patch management comes into play.

The Benefits

Manually checking for and applying updates is a mammoth task; the sheer number of available updates can be overwhelming especially for some SMB’s who may not have their own onsite technical team. To remove this time consuming job, patch management will automatically control the update process. This can also include devices in remote locations, especially helpful for remote workers that use company phones or laptops. Those devices and applications that are easy to forget about can also be included, removing any surprises later on.

Patch management enables the scheduling of a time and date for patches to be deployed, which is especially useful for devices located across different time zones. Setting updates to install out of hours or outside times of high employee productivity minimises the amount of business disruption faced whilst still maintaining the level of security needed.

Removing the need for IT teams to analyse updates, patch management also helps to free up time allowing other productive tasks to be looked at, or dedicate more time to looking after existing systems.

Effective Patch Management 

What does an effective patch management programme look like? The methods used will obviously vary for each company; there’s no ‘one size fits all’ configuration as each need is different. Typically, an automated patch management system is implemented. This requires the install of an agent which allows the control and management of patches from a web-based interface. Companies with a smaller network may wish to outsource this management to perform the deployments from a remote location.

So, you have the programme in place. A less obvious part of the whole management is a policy. This would dictate how often patches are performed, how quickly they need to be scheduled (especially critical updates) and a plan for rollbacks.

 

In summary, in order to keep your infrastructure safe and secure, regularly applying patches to all software should be prioritised. Cyber security needs to be taken seriously by all to stay ahead of the criminals.

 

Netshield can assist with the automation and management of the patch process, from your entire infrastructure to just a select few network devices. If you’d like further information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Still cloudy about the cloud? A hybrid approach could be the answer

There is no doubt that there are many advantages for moving to the cloud, as we have discussed in previous blog posts. With all the hype and noise surrounding cloud solutions, it is easy to get distracted from the most important issue – which solution best fits your business right now and moving into the future? As part a recent survey conducted by IDG Connect and cio.co.uk, it was revealed the use of third party datacentres or colocation is growing in popularity:

  • 4 in 10 companies cited a major restructure, merger, change of premises or an acquisition as one of the main reasons for turning to a third party resource.
  • 29% pointed to a lack of capital to extend their current facilities.
  • 28% stated that their datacentres were not currently designed for the modern world of high density, heavily virtualised servers.
  • 24% simply don’t have the floor space to keep extending and the same proportion said that they were running out of electrical power and that it was increasingly difficult to hit energy efficient targets based on current designs.

Netshield currently provides colocation services in our ‘out of city’, state of the art datacentre for many of our customers. Before making the important decision of whether or not to place equipment offsite, we are frequently asked to outline the benefits:

  • Reduced costs – Rather than investing in backup generators, UPS and HVAC units and paying the ongoing expense associated with this equipment, we take on this responsibility, providing a secure datacentre environment that is scalable to the evolving needs of your business.
  • Reliability – The peace of mind that you are guaranteed a 100% network reliability. When running an in-house datacentre, this can have its difficulties and related costs. Our network configurations are designed to deliver reliability, availability and uptime for you.
  • Robust bandwidth – As requirements increase, colocation allows you to keep up with more complex applications, maintain service provider diversity and take advantage of volume pricing without the hassle of negotiating and managing multiple contracts.
  • 24/7 local support – You decide how much control you need or want over your own equipment. Coupled with our NetManage solution, we have a remote hands service and onsite service to provide 24/7 management of servers, giving you assurance that there is always a professional at hand to assist you and manage your assets.
  • Greater power capacity & redundancy – Our increased power capacity means that you can take advantage of this to introduce virtualisation and high density computing. Our constant, uninterrupted power supply means constant uptime and the knowledge that there is always a backup in the case of a power outage.
  • Security & data protection – We have multiple layers of security including 24/7 onsite security, biometric and key card entry, cabinet/cage locks, CCTV. Your data and equipment is protected at all times.
  • Business continuity & disaster recovery – In the event of a natural disaster or power outage, we can ensure your offsite servers, equipment and applications will remain available and operational. Even with the increased risk of a terrorist attack, our datacentre is located out of the city centre.

While the ‘cloud’ remains a hot topic, security seems to be at the forefront for many IT managers. It maybe that the cloud is not suitable for every application, perhaps that is due to compliance, specialised hardware dependencies, or the need for direct physical control over the IT environment – colocation is a strong alternative for overcoming these issues. Contact us today to find out more about our colocation services.

10 Reasons Why Cloud is Good for Business

In today’s world, everyone is captivated with their laptops, tablets and mobile devices, we are so captivated on average individuals have access to 3 different devices. We have the ability to be always connected and access the information we want and need within a few clicks, which leads to the idea of Cloud Computing revolutionising the workplace.

What is Cloud Computing?

It is the delivery of computing as a service comparatively than a product. Your business information, software and information is transferred to computers and other devices as a service over a network. A Cloud services has 3 main attributes that makes it slightly different from traditional hosted services;

  • It is sold on demand
  • It is elastic and scalable
  • It is fully managed

Why would Cloud Benefit your Business?

  1. Automatic software updates– The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) carries out the maintenance for all the software, which includes security updates, helping you free time for other tasks in your business.
  2. Flexibility – Any Cloud based service can immediately meet any frequency low or high so, it can adapt to your business as it grows.
  3. Controlling Costs– Save money by having a scalable solution for a monthly fee and if you choose to use a CSP your business will require less networking hardware on site.
  4. New Business Ventures – Due to the flexibility and the speed of deployment of cloud resources businesses are able to try new ideas without extreme investments in systems quickly and efficiently.
  5. Stability– A lot of businesses suffer from downtime due to crisis management, hardware upgrades or other problems, CSP continuously monitors and maintain the systems which provides dependable uptime.
  6. Work from anywhere– With an internet connection employees in your business can work anytime, anywhere which can help increase the workers’ productivity and job satisfaction.
  7. Build, expand and use new operations– Cloud computing enables you to build quickly, deploy and manage applications which can be built in any framework, tools and languages. So, setting up remote offices will be easy as 1, 2, 3!
  8. Security– By using Cloud everything is stored in a central location, so your business data can still be accessed no matter what happens to the device.
  9. Environmentally friendly– It helps decrease the carbon footprint of your business as you’re only using the resources you require.
  10. Competitiveness– The cloud grants SME’s access to business class technology at a set monthly cost. It can allow smaller companies to act faster than substantial well-established opponents with complex networks.

Cloud for business is advantageous, although the requirement of an internet connection is a disadvantage, with our addiction to mobile devices and access to information – the internet has become a common commodity. Find out what the cloud can do for your business by contacting us today 0845 603 5552.

Upgrading your Business Broadband? But which one?

Connectivity is becoming a necessity for organisations with many needing faster and more reliable service to ensure business continuity. For commercial broadband buyers there are many to choose from and each will have their advantages and disadvantages.

ADSL 2+

Popular choice, as it uses the same infrastructure as standard ADSL connections but, it can provide up to 3 times greater connection speeds. However, the actual speeds you’ll get depends on the distance between the premise and the exchange.

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP)

Is considered as one of the fastest options because it involves running a cable from a nearby exchange straight to your business premises. Installation costs are subject to survey, as the ISP need to assess how much digging will be involved to connect the premise to the exchange. It takes on average 3 months to install and it is not available everywhere.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)

Similar to FTTP this is where a cable is running from a nearby cabinet to the premise and it is not available everywhere. It is considered to be a solution that is a cross between copper broadband and Ethernet First Mile.

Fibre on Demand

Also known as FTTP On Demand enable customers to access speeds up to 330Mbps by extending a fibre-optic broadband connection from the nearest cabinet to the premise.

Ethernet First Mile (EFM)

One of the lower-cost lease line options. Instead of using fibre, it uses existing copper lines to connect the business premise to the local exchange – making it more cost-efficient and faster to install. It is a contented service but, you will receive the same upload and download speeds unlike ADSL.

Microwave

Is a way of transmitting information by using electromagnetic waves and it is widely used for point-to-point communication. It has a small wavelength, with high frequency and the antennas are pointed directly at the receiving antenna. Due to the high frequency it has a large capacity to carry data but, this technology is limited when there are hills and mountains in the line of sight because the waves cannot pass through.

Leased Line – Ethernet

It is a private line that permanently connects two locations; either Internet Leased Line a connection between a service provider and a customer or a ‘Point-to-Point Leased Line’ which is a connection between two customer sites. It is an uncontended connection, offering the same upload and download speeds, making it a reliable and stable connection. Dedicated Ethernet leased lines also comes with a Service Level Agreement.

To help improve connections for businesses and support economic growth the UK Government is currently running a Connection Voucher scheme across the UK. The scheme offers ‘connection vouchers’ worth up to £3000 to help SMEs, Charities and Social Enterprises towards improving or upgrading their current broadband connectivity.

By upgrading broadband connections companies can benefit from improve reliability, increase productivity, enhanced communication with stakeholders and better service speeds. For more help on choosing your business broadband please feel free to contact Netshield today.