As more companies seek “remote-first” workplaces for the long haul, IT teams are under pressure to ensure current network measures are enough to handle this long-term shift to distributed work environments. One way to check for resiliency within systems is by performing a network risk assessment—an audit of a network system and all of the devices within it.
IT departments could opt to do this themselves, but given the increased number of network-connected devices spurred on by remote work and the pandemic, this can be a time-consuming and challenging task, even for the largest and most seasoned IT teams.
In order to reduce missteps and free up time for IT teams to work on more strategic projects—such as anticipating new technologies and, where possible, adopting them—almost a third of companies are now outsourcing their IT support. By outsourcing network assessments, companies and their IT teams can receive the support and expertise necessary to understand the full inventory of devices on their networks and any areas in need of cleanup. Armed with this information, IT teams can prevent a worst case scenario (like a data breach or downtime) before it even occurs.
Performing a Network Assessment
From ensuring the network is optimized to support evolving business needs, to reducing costly down-time and spotting configuration issues before they affect the network, there’s an abundance of reasons for IT teams to consistently review the health of their digital infrastructure.
Through rigorous and routine network assessments, IT teams can avoid:
- Data loss and breaches: Data breaches can have a major financial impact, incur legal repercussions and also cause irreparable harm to an organization’s reputation. And in the age of remote work, the frequency of phishing attempts and other malicious cyber acts are on the rise.
- Application downtime: Applications can go down from cyberattacks, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, but far more common are network misconfigurations. Misconfigurations account for a large percentage of unplanned outages and extended periods of downtime. In fact, Gartner reports that 99% of all firewall breaches will be caused by misconfigurations in the coming years.
- Long-term IT costs: Network audits can identify risks before they become liabilities, which allows IT teams to mitigate potential exposures both now and in the future. Building this practice into IT teams’ workflows can make network maintenance practices repeatable for continuous improvement.
As remote work makes network maintenance more complex and threats from cyber attacks continue to grow, IT outsourcing has emerged as a key business strategy that enables businesses to be agile and resilient.
Outsourcing Your Network Risk Assessment and Maintenance
Though vital to the success of a business, assessing and maintaining a network’s integrity can be challenging, especially in today’s remote work environments. In the era of working from home, IT teams are less concerned with monitoring physical switches, routers, firewalls or access to wireless networks. Instead, they’re strapped with the monumental task of proactively monitoring access to networks from often hundreds or even thousands of remote access points.
Remote work creates remote networks—a virtually limitless access surface since IT teams can’t possibly verify how each employee manages their home setup. IT teams need to be constantly evaluating the version code of the devices within their network to ensure they are up-to-date and perform preventative tasks, like network device configuration, routine security analyses, or annual hardware reviews—all from afar.
With a third-party network maintenance provider, the complexity of assessing and maintaining networks for remote work becomes less cumbersome. A strong outsourcing solution can take care of the nuts and bolts of network maintenance, such as proactive monitoring of firewalls and network access. A network maintenance provider can also help with heftier tasks, like quarterly documentation updates that provide an overview of a company’s network, as well as their device and firmware or software inventory. Through these insights, IT teams receive a holistic, logical view of their network, its devices, and any areas in need of maintenance or clean-up.
From assessment to management, enlisting a trusted partner to outsource networking needs can be crucial to keeping networks online. Good partners will do more than just keep networks (and businesses) up and running, they’ll provide expert resources and services that prevent network missteps or device misconfigurations before they happen. Businesses big and small are turning to outsourcing to not only survive, but set themselves up for continued success in the post-pandemic world.