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What you don’t know about your computer network can hurt you

Security holes. Unauthorized users. Unknown devices. Unlicensed software. Ports open to the internet. These are just a few of the big liability issues that are present in 9 out of 10 unmanaged computer networks that I run into. And you’d be surprised at how many problems we find even at companies that are regularly monitoring their network operations

When’s the last time you had an “independent” professional come into your facility and perform an objective third-party look at the way your network is set up? Read the rest of this entry »

How network assessment technology works

We use a product called the Network Detective from RapidFireTools.com to run our network assessments. This is a highly specialized diagnostic tool designed specifically to allow IT service providers like me to perform a comprehensive scan of my clients’ networks in usually just 10-20 minutes.

After the scan is complete, I can run an analysis of the findings and quickly identify a wide range of network configuration issues and security holes that can easily go unnoticed. Read the rest of this entry »

Is your network monitoring system catching everything?

Our company has tried and used many of the leading Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools that are on the market. We’ve had to switch vendors a few times, either because of service and support issues, or product functionality.

We’re happy now with the RMM tool we have, but we learned something the hard way. No RMM tool, no matter how comprehensive, is going to do an adequate job of identifying certain kinds of network configuration or security problems. Most of the RMM tools do a great job of monitoring network operational trends and generating alerts when a device on the network – or the network itself – needs attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Six steps to gain peace-of-mind about your computer network

I’ve written few blog posts about my passion for the need for everyone to conduct regular network assessments. With all my years in the business, I’ve seen more than my fair share of unhappy people whose lives were turned upside-down by a network failure or compromise that never should have happened.

I understand if you’re skeptical. I would be too if I didn’t run into scary situations whenever I run one of our quick and easy network assessments. Here are eight common problems I typically find: Read the rest of this entry »

The top 7 “unmonitored” network configurations to watch

Even if you have so-called Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) agents running on your network, that doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting visibility into all of the most important security and configuration items that need to be regularly checked.

I remember a case of a Texas man who illegally accessed his former employer’s computer database and deleting some important files. He had been an employee of a services provider to the domestic natural gas and oil exploration and production industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you been given a clean IT Bill of Health?

What do I mean by that? I mean, that nobody has access to files, folders, and data who shouldn’t. Devices that you’ve decommissioned can no longer access your network. No new devices are currently connected to the network that you don’t know about. Everyone is using strong passwords to protect network access. Permissions for active users are in alignment with your security policies. You don’t have ports open to the internet for potential external penetration. Etc., etc., etc. You get the point. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you the exception when it comes to IT network hygiene

Let’s face it: The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is an easy mantra for busy executives and employees who have to-do lists longer than their arms. We’ve evolved into a society largely of digital firefighters, running from one emergency to the next while trying to get more work done with fewer resources.

When it comes to managing an IT network, even the most diligent companies with competent internal and/or external technical resources struggle to keep up. If it’s not responding to a never-ending call for help from the end-users, it’s swapping out old hardware, ramping up new systems and, well, just keeping everything running and available. Read the rest of this entry »

Unauthorized employee network access

There are few things in life that get me more angry than people blatantly abusing IT access privileges that have been granted them by their employers. I think this presses my buttons even more than an unauthorized intrusion by a hacker or cybercriminal.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Both scenarios can add up to a nightmare, and often times the financial impact of an external attack on a company is far worse than an “inside job.” But in the latter case, I think it’s the violation of trust that gets me most upset. Read the rest of this entry »

How do you know what you don’t know about your IT assets?

Most business executives who come to me for help don’t have a good understanding of how their networks are configured, or who inside – and external to — the organization has access to what information and programs. In fact, while most of these executives are well aware of the possibility of EXTERNAL threats from viruses, malware, phishing scams and the like, they don’t even think twice about the very real access their employees have, and the damage that they could potentially inflict on the company – whether planned or through simple ignorance. Read the rest of this entry »

When’s the last time you did a deep dive into your computer network?

Most business people I run into are very aware that their personal computers literally have a life of their own. Like children, the older they get the more prone they are to rebelling, which takes the form of a general decline in performance, and often times an increase in the frequency of crashes and frozen screens. That’s because your personal computer changes every single time that you go online, create new documents, import new files, open an email, install a new application, delete an old one, run a patch or a software update, or connect a new peripheral.

Even if you are running updated virus protection software and malware filters behind a solid internet firewall, you’re still going to need to give your personal computer a professional tune-up every so often to get it back into peak operating performance. The recommended frequency of your tune-ups will vary depending on how active you are with your PC. Read the rest of this entry »