For companies of every size, data security is one of the top factors driving information technology and business intelligence, and often that security begins in the data center, with network protection.
In today's increasingly converged data center, information security is being leveraged for Big Data and sophisticated analytics. That means VAR customers are looking for resources and insights that can drive more security, without losing efficiency or uptime. Learning more about these data center security tactics can position you as a valuable asset to customers and may help your own network security as well. Here are some approaches to consider.
1. Do a vulnerability assessment to learn areas of weakness
An initial step in reducing network vulnerabilities is creating a network map that lays out every aspect of a data center's operations, such as use of devices, TCP/IP addresses, software-driven access controls and other aspects of data center usage.
Once this map is created, a vulnerability assessment can find the weak links in your network chains. These might be unpatched software applications, poor configurations with administrator access, unsecured accounts related to former employees or malware that's slipped into the system through user actions. These types of vulnerabilities can significantly impact network speed, efficiency and uptime. Some enterprises use multiple assessment tools to spot more vulnerabilities and create a schedule for regular scanning.
2. Address all areas of vulnerability quickly and thoroughly
Once you find aspects of a network that are weak, step in and put more security controls in place that can bolster the network as a whole. This may be as simple as updating all apps with security patches, or it could be as complex as aligning cloud-based storage with in-house network access controls.
For some enterprises, network vulnerability results due to poor interoperability between different systems and applications, so keep configuration and recent changes to a data center in mind when addressing security issues. If your center, or your customer's center, has gone through upgrades and implementations, especially with a strategy like virtualization, there may be network trouble spots that were overlooked during deployment.
3. Implement more security training
Although there are many security strategies available, including software-defined network tools, employees are often an enterprise's biggest security risk when it comes to network vulnerabilities. Even if an employee has never set foot in the data center, he or she can wreak havoc with the network through compliance violations and improper downloads.
To minimize the impact of employees, advise your customers to provide cyber security training to all employees who have access to corporate network resources. This has become especially important as more companies turn to cloud-based services for business-critical applications and depend on a mobile workforce to access them for greater flexibility.
Taking the time to assess a data center's network security controls will go a long way toward strengthening your overall protection against data breaches, viruses, intrusion, insider threats and other vulnerabilities. For VARs, learning more about network vulnerabilities — and how to address them — can put you in a strong position as a security resource for customers who want a more robust data center and better network security.
What kinds of network security strategies do you use in your data center? Tell us in the comments.