Automate Hospital’s Network Security

Sept. 23, 2009

Not having a centralized dashboard or management console for monitoring the network and installing updates can put a strain on the IT and security teams, forcing them to spend a majority of their time and budget on maintenance. The number of machines distributed throughout the organization compounds this issue, as the IT staff must travel to each location to fix problems and manually install upgrades and updates.

By Jim Alves

Not having a centralized dashboard or management console for monitoring the network and installing updates can put a strain on the IT and security teams, forcing them to spend a majority of their time and budget on maintenance. The number of machines distributed throughout the organization compounds this issue, as the IT staff must travel to each location to fix problems and manually install upgrades and updates.

A single IT management system that provides a holistic, real-time view of the entire network can help the IT team be more proactive about security. By implementing a comprehensive and integrated IT automation platform that is both flexible and scalable, organizations can provide their IT teams with a comprehensive look at the whole system, reducing human error and security breaches, and decreasing the amount of time spent addressing daily IT tasks. Through a single, Web-based console, one IT professional can efficiently manage hundreds of systems and have full insight into the health of the infrastructure, saving time, travel, money and resources.

Unlike conventional file-based products, IT automation software creates an image of the entire system state, including operating system, business applications, user settings, drivers and data. This makes rebuilding workstations easier, while also enabling more-effective monitoring and implementation of updates simultaneously across the network. IT automaton also makes security more effective by centrally managing the three most important elements of a complete security program: endpoint security, patch and upgrade management, and backup and disaster recovery.

Endpoint security enables IT staff to identify and mitigate risks. This includes antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection for servers, workstations and mobile computers. In order to effectively manage this important component, the IT team needs visibility into all deployment, configuration, status and operation of the endpoint security functionality. Staff should also directly control all policies, deployment, updates and operations schedules. In addition, IT professionals should enforce corporate and security policies across the entire organizational infrastructure to keep networks running at optimal level with minimal security intrusions.

Patch and upgrade management is also a vital part to maintaining a hospital’s IT infrastructure, keeping security holes closed before major damage is inflicted. This includes scheduling recurring patch scans, searching networks for installed and missing security patches, detecting vulnerabilities, and monitoring and maintaining patch compliance throughout the entire enterprise. After the system is diagnosed and vulnerabilities are located, the IT staff should then roll out the required actions across the appropriate machines based on the extent of the update. Automating these tasks can make updating and maintaining compliance quick and efficient.

Lastly, a comprehensive security solution also includes backup and disaster recovery. IT administrators should not only be able to locate what needs to be backed up, but also know where the data is stored in order to quickly recover important information regardless of their physical location. This is especially important when an unforeseen, major event results in data loss.

IT staff should also have the ability to deploy, configure, manage, monitor, secure, backup and restore distributed systems. This removes the responsibility of backing up workstations by end-users, ensuring trained professionals monitor and manage the task on a regular and reliable basis.

Jim Alves is executive vice president, product marketing and strategy, for Kaseya, San Francisco.

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