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Network Security is Not Child’s Play

- May 23, 2016 - 3 Comments

Do you remember the childhood game Gossip? Maybe you played it. A secret message is whispered from one person to the next until it reaches the Gossiplast person who says out loud what they believed they heard. Whether by an honest misunderstanding or intentional sabotage, often the end message is nothing like the original. Now, imagine this scenario playing out within your company’s network infrastructure and expanded ecosystem. How would it play out? In a word, it would be unacceptable.

Are You Exposed to Gossip Gaps?

In life and in business no one likes a gossip. A gossip can’t be trusted to keep information confidential nor can the information a gossip puts out be considered error-proof. To be a trusted and reliable leader in your industry the partners and vendors you work with want to know your network can keep information secure.

Below are questions I recommend you ask yourself about your company’s network. Your answers will help you determine if you are exposed to gaps that could put your company’s and customers’ information at risk. Take a moment to answer the following questions:

  • Is the use of automation maximized?
  • Are workflows seamless from end-to-end?
  • Are you consistently compliant with organizational and regulatory standards?
  • Do you have a complete view of your entire network ecosystem?
  • Are your devices updated to the latest operating system?
  • Does communication flow freely, yet securely, throughout your ecosystem?

If you answered no to any of the questions, your network is at risk and you should take immediate steps to protect it.

How to Close the Gaps to Secure Your Network

The ability to automate processes that eliminate multiple toolsets, prevent redundancy, and reduce human errors and the time required for change is paramount for securing your network.  Automation leads to operational efficiencies and those efficiencies lead to faster compliance. In short, compliance equals security.

Recently, we deployed Cisco Compliance Management and Configuration Platform (CMCP)1 to help a large financial institution audit and update 54,000 devices with IOS upgrades to corporate standards. Because our solution automated the process, device upgrades were completed in 65 12-hour change windows with the average number of violations remediated per window of 272.

Because we used CMCP, the customer avoided 2,531 additional change windows than if the standard, non-automated approach was used. Another way to look at it is CMCP saved the customer 30,372 hours in manual hours by mitigating risks, achieving and enforcing compliance, and maintaining business continuity.

So, now let’s look at security from a multiparty lens. Multi-sourcing can create complexities that compromise business security. As a result, many companies come to us because they are plagued with the challenges of overlapping responsibilities, unclear ownership of issues and service provider performance, fragmented communication, and inefficient issue resolution making consistent service-level agreement (SLA) management impossible.

May blog_Jim

Cisco ServiceGrid closes security gaps with a connect-once-connect-all approach for multiparty environments. It provides a single view of all your support partners and customers enabling you to monitor SLAs against both the performance of individual suppliers and the end-to-end service that is provided to the customer. ServiceGrid automates processes, reduces costs, and eliminates errors found in multiparty environments, thus improving the quality of support and enhancing the security of your network.

It’s apparent, security requires specialized tools. CMCP and ServiceGrid are solutions that can handle the job both individually and collectively. Although, I did not approach it from a security angle at the time, in my August 2015 blog post, Automating Configuration in a Multi-sourced Environment, I shared a case study of a customer that was reaping the benefits of automating multi-vendor network configuration and compliance. I’d love to hear your feedback once you read the post so please, share where you believe the customer would reap the benefit from a more secure network. Let’s talk about it.

1Formerly Compliance Management and Configuration Service and Compliance Management and Configuration Solution.

Register for Our Upcoming ServiceGrid Webinar

Title: “How to Leverage the Power of Service Integration to Enhance Customer Experience”

Date: June 9th, 12 pm Eastern Time

Speakers:
Jim McDonnell, Director ServiceGrid, CMCP, and UCSF Alliance
Greg Hibbert, Business Development Manager, Dimension Data Europe

Tune in to learn how companies are addressing the following questions:

As organizations embrace disparate technologies, can they ensure the integrity of their service offerings? Can companies maintain a consistent level of quality, providing a seamless transition to their customers? By welcoming new providers, must a level of security be sacrificed?

Register now.

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3 Comments

  1. I was pretty pleased to discover this great site.

    Thanks Jim..register there.

    Excellent analogy - we called it "Telephone" (of course, I had to use tin cans and string to make a call when I was growing up - walking uphill to and from school everyday). It helps us understand better how Cisco is addressing security gaps for our customers.

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