Network monitoring is an essential task for enterprises today due to the ever-increasing threats trying to compromise data. But how can organizations help their IT departments do their best work?
Here are five tips for monitoring traffic on your network.
Understand What Needs to Be Monitored
Not every organization is the same. Thus, not all are going to have the same needs when it comes to monitoring network traffic. However, some standards carry across pretty well regardless of the enterprise. One of which is all organizations need to know what data has to be monitored on their networks.
When enterprises have different data sources coming through, it can become more difficult to monitor the network. One of the first things to consider when thinking about network monitoring is what kinds of data will be running on it. Understanding this from the outset can help IT departments get a better idea of what they need to do in order to maintain and secure networks.
Inventory Devices and Applications
Types of data are just one of the elements to consider about when it comes to monitoring network traffic. It’s also essential to look at the different devices and applications that will be connected to the network. This is an ever-growing concern for a couple of reasons.
To start, more devices are connecting to enterprise networks than ever before—many of these personal devices for remote workers, or IoT-connected autonomous machines. With all these new devices needing to connect to networks, enterprises need to take extra precautions in ensuring their security. Taking an inventory of all accepted devices and applications can help with this, as it makes it easier to spot abnormal network activity.
Get the Right Tools for the Job
Having the right tools for the job is important in any setting. This is especially critical, however, when it comes to network monitoring tools. Think of it like this: You can dig a hole with a subpar shovel, but you can’t hold water in a sieve. While in some departments, it might be fine to operate with less-than-ideal tools, when it comes to network security, you might as well not be doing anything at all if you’re trying to hold water in a sieve.
Organizations need to do a thorough job in not only selecting specific monitoring tools, but also their network architecture. Having the optimal backbone to your network is going to be significantly more important than bells and whistles. A software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) is highly effective at controlling and monitoring network traffic. Implementing SD-WAN can allow enterprises to get a far better idea of what’s happening on their networks, while also enhancing performance.
Establish a Baseline
It’s impossible to know if something is wrong if you don’t know what “right” is supposed to look like. This is why it’s imperative for enterprises to establish a baseline with their network traffic before trying to implement monitoring protocols.
When you have a strong idea of what normal network flows look like, it becomes much easier to spot an anomaly. Further, your monitoring tools won’t be effectively calibrated to anything but themselves if you don’t establish a baseline ahead of time.
Create a Triage Plan
Even the most carefully crafted protocols can fall victim to the unforeseen. This concept especially holds true with network monitoring, where there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong. Even if you do absolutely everything right in preparation, one person opening the wrong email can open up an organization to a malware threat. In fact, almost all malware is sent through email. While it’s possible to filter much of this, it’s simply not possible to get everything.
This is why organizations need to have a triage plan as part of their network monitoring procedure. When something goes wrong, there’s no time to figure out what to do. Those steps need to be prepared ahead of time in order to stop attacks before they become serious threats. Working with a third-party security provider can provide an additional layer of defense on this front, as well as more eyes monitoring your network.
There are many reasons network monitoring is one of the most important focuses for an enterprise today. Consider these tips when planning your network management infrastructure.