Network monitoring has proven to be one of the most effective means of defending a network from intrusion. It is an incredibly versatile solution, as network monitoring can be utilized with any kind of network setup. Best of all, there is no easy way for criminals to “workaround” this type of security. However, in order to get the most out of this technology, there are a few things that every small business owner should know about network monitoring.
What Is Network Monitoring?
This is simply the practice of watching a network closely in order to improve performance or guard against various threats. By looking at the network traffic (which is transacted in small files called “packets”), activity logs, and other relevant information in real-time, it is possible to improve both performance and security. For best results, network monitoring should be done by a qualified expert. However, this kind of thing can also be automated to a certain extent.
Benefits Of Network Monitoring
There are quite a few benefits that come from good network monitoring. The first one that we should discuss is a lower likelihood of suffering a cyber-attack. Unless you are dealing with a highly trained state-level hacker, any cyber-attack will leave telltale signs of its activity. If these suspicious signs can be detected early enough, even a highly sophisticated attack can be thwarted.
In terms of performance, the main benefit is less network downtime. Internet outages are always annoying, but businesses can lose huge amounts of money for every hour that access is denied. These monitoring services cost money, but nowhere near as much money as you stand to lose from extended downtime. Thus, if they prevent even one network outage, network monitoring services basically pay for themselves.
Network Monitoring Tools
The most common type of tool is a packet monitor. There are free tools like Wireshark that do this, but a business is likely to need a little bit more. Even a small business needs to have effective options, and that is much more difficult when dealing with free software. Most of these packet monitors use SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) to obtain most of their feedback data.
Some types of software also offer “active network monitoring.” This is a more proactive approach, in which the program actually carries out network transactions for testing purposes. It will generally do this in a virtual (i.e., a simulated “sandbox” environment) system, with the test results being reported for later action. It can also be helpful to select software that allows you to isolate and study-specific data flows.
When selecting the right network monitoring tools, a small business needs to consider the crucial factor of scale. If you go with something that is way too extensive for your needs, it can be a waste of money. On the other hand, using inadequate network monitoring software is also a waste of your money. We would recommend that you go with plans that are scalable so that you can size them according to your needs and change them later if necessary.
The Importance Of Network Visibility
This is a term that you may have heard in the past, but it isn’t always explained well. Internet networks need to be set up in such a way that all parts are easily monitored. If you have any “blind spots,” these can serve as points of illicit entry. As in the real world, criminals tend to stick to dark and discrete places, so you don’t want to have any of those.
This can only be done if you have a thorough understanding of the network architecture. If the whole thing has been set up by someone who didn’t know what they were doing, it can be very easy for those dark corners to be created. It might be tempting to go with the simplest possible network architecture, but that isn’t a good idea. Simple architectures are much easier to penetrate, so there is something of a quandary here.
You definitely want to employ good network separation measures. For instance, most organizations choose to put important databases on their own dedicated servers. These proprietary databases can contain a lot of sensitive information, and you don’t want that flowing along the same lines as your normal internet traffic. Backups are also a lot more important for a database server. And so, you don’t have to have a complex network setup if you keep everything separated in functional groups.
Network Visibility Tools
When we talk about “network architectures,” it can be difficult for many people to grasp the concept. After all, these things do not exist in the physical world, even if they are based on things that physically exist. For this reason, it can be very helpful to make use of network mapping software. There are all sorts of tools that can display your network architecture as a “connection tree”, which functions as a network map.
Troubleshooting Network Monitoring
Here is a short list of problems that can affect the functionality of your network monitoring tools:
- Lack of complete network visibility
- Poorly configured network devices
- Communication issues resulting from the complexity of the matter
- Maintaining a balance between active and passive monitoring
- Failure to establish correct baseline figures
- Failure to respond quickly enough when a problem is detected
While this is a pretty technical issue, a business owner doesn’t necessarily need to understand the inner workings of network monitoring. What is important is that your network monitoring is carried out by someone who has the ability to spot problems and deal with them quickly. Network monitoring can only be fully effective when combined with the trained eye of an expert. If you would like to know more or ask about our network monitoring services, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.