When it comes to network security, we often think about vulnerabilities or exploits. About internal threats, and password compromises. We don’t often think about automation.
Anything that can have a negative impact on network resiliency and its return to full operation after an ‘event’ relates to security. Automation helps keep your network humming along at it’s best.
With that in mind, here are 7 steps to improving network security through automation:
- Assess Your Environment and then Set Your Strategy & Select a Platform
Not all automation is equal. Assess you network and the demands placed on it. Consider your team, and their ability to write and support scripting-automations before committing them to doing so. Assess your financial situation to determine a budget and ROI for automation.
- Implement Well-Architected, Automated Backups
Backups are often a pain. And, not just the backup but making sure it worked. Managing the files. Practicing the restore. Then, making sure it runs properly every evening, and before- and after- any destructive changes (like software updates). If your network is down, you want to be able to restore it as quickly as possible and in our experience, that’s easier said than done.
- Automate Compliance Audits & Remediation
Compliance comes in many forms. For some it’s simply best practices instantiated as a golden config. For others, it’s more formal compliance like CIS Benchmarks, HIPAA, or implementing (and maintaining!) NIST standards. You want to take all of the above and use automation to get compliant, understand your drift profile, and autoremediate the drift to stay compliant.
- Automate Onboarding & Discovery
Have you ever walked around your office to find network equipment installed by your users? Access points under desks to boost wireless signals? Routers are retail outlets to circumvent firewalls? Whether you’re just starting, and adding devices, or tracking moves and changes, you want automation with templates to ensure new devices belong on the network and are configured in a secure way that protects the company.
- Integrate Vulnerability & Risk Intelligence Data
Automation can help with a complete and dynamic device inventory that can then be used as the basis for a security audit map and score against known CVEs, vulnerabilities, and exploits. Using this risk analysis can best inform activities like software updates, or configuration changes that mitigate known exploits even before updates can be deployed.
- Automate OS Upgrades and Patches
OS Updates are hard. They interfere with the business, and as such are done off-hours. They require a lot of manual work even in the best situations. They often fail, and take multiple tries (and multiple evenings) to get right. And, in any network of scale, it’s a long term project. Updates are often complex workflows too – needing backups at multiple steps, validation that updates have worked, consideration for high-availability configurations, and so on. Automation solves for these issues and more, enabling a more frequent update schedule to be achieved. Doing so patches vulnerabilities quicker, keeping the network safe.
- Funnel Changes through the Automation Platform (even manual ones)
Automate as many changes as you can, then lock down security so those changes can only be made from the automation platform. The automation platform can then audit anything that happens to devices, with recorded sessions for training or compliance. As manual work is done in this way, logs can be reviewed for more automation opportunities enhancing the value automation brings to the organization.