Author Archive

how network monitoring works

How Network Monitoring Works | September 04th, 2019

Network monitoring is a vital IT function for the corporate world. From employee productivity to infrastructure maintenance, network monitoring can help businesses save costs in all corners of their corporate structure. While network monitoring is gaining popularity, however, many potential adopters are left wondering what exactly this technology is and how it can help them. If you’re looking for basic information on what network monitoring systems are, how they work and how you can use them, you’ve come to the right place.

What Is Network Monitoring?

Network monitoring is an important practice for network administrators. Networks are the lifeblood of any modern corporation, and slowdowns and breaches are costly. Monitoring is the practice of watching the internal network as a whole, including devices, traffic and servers. This helps identify and address potential problems as they occur, preventing network issues. For nearly all businesses, this monitoring occurs with the help of software systems.

Network monitoring systems, at their most basic, are tools that help administrators monitor their networks more effectively. The specifics of the system, however, vary widely based on the company’s size and needs. The following are a few examples of how network monitoring systems vary:

  • Size and scale: Some network monitoring systems are simple, pinging hosts to check for availability. Some are even achieved using a patchwork of various software and hardware in tandem. More advanced systems, on the other hand, monitor all areas of even the most complex networks with a single comprehensive system.
  • Ease of use: Interfaces vary wildly depending on the type and sophistication of the network monitoring system. While some offer only simple alerts and command-based interfaces, others may provide a graphical user interface to improve functionality. Many modern network monitoring tools have web-based and mobile-based interfaces.
  • Automation: Basic monitoring systems rely on an administrator to see results and act on them, but many companies are turning to automated systems that handle events themselves. These systems are designed to trigger events when network data falls outside set parameters, functionally eliminating the middle man and improving response time for network errors.

One important point to network monitoring systems is that they are not necessarily security systems. While network monitoring can serve as a helpful tool to protect against network gaps and slowdowns that could lead to a breach, network monitoring systems are not intrusion detection systems or intrusion prevention systems. While these other systems detect and prevent unauthorized access, network monitoring systems let you know how well the system is running during regular operations.

What Does Network Monitoring Watch?

Choosing what to monitor with network monitoring

Choosing what to monitor with a network monitoring software is just as important as deciding to implement one in your business. You can use network monitoring to track a variety of areas in a network, but monitoring usually focuses on the following four areas:

  • Bandwidth use: Monitoring network traffic, how much bandwidth your company uses and how effectively it’s used helps ensure that everything runs smoothly. Devices or programs that hog your bandwidth may need to be replaced.
  • Application performance: Applications running on your network need to function properly, and network monitoring systems can test to be sure that they do. Network monitoring systems can test the response time and availability of network-based databases, virtual machines, cloud services and more to be certain that they are not slowing down your network.
  • Server performance: Email servers, web servers, DNS Servers and more are the crux of many functions in your business, so it’s essential to test the uptime, reliability and consistency of each server.
  • Network configuration: Network monitoring systems can supervise many kinds of devices, including cell phones, desktops and servers. Some systems include automatic discovery, which allows them to log and track devices continuously as they are added, changed or removed. These tools can also segregate devices according to their type, service, IP address or physical location, which helps keep the network map updated and helps plan for future growth.

Monitoring isn’t limited to any single type of network. Any network of any level of complexity can be monitored with a sufficient network monitoring system. Some of the most common network types include wireless or wired, corporate LAN, VPN and service provider WAN. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP), video on demand (VOD) and internet protocol TV (IPTV) are also common additions to modern networks that can add complexity to network monitoring. With monitoring, however, managers can allocate resources properly regardless of all the complexities of their network.

How Does Network Monitoring Work?

Network monitoring uses a variety of techniques to test the availability and functionality of the network. Some of the more common general techniques used to collect data for monitoring software are listed below:

  • Ping: A ping is one of the most basic techniques that monitoring software uses to test hosts within a network. The monitoring system sends out a signal and records data such as whether the signal was received, how long it took the host to receive the signal, whether any signal data was lost and more. The data is then used to determine whether the host is active, how efficient the host is, the transmission time and packet loss experienced when communicating with the host and other information.
  • SNMP: Simple network management protocol (SNMP) monitors individual devices in a network through monitoring software. In this system, each monitored device has monitoring software installed that sends information about the device’s performance to a central SNMP manager. The manager collects this information in a database and analyzes it for errors. This is the most widely used protocol for modern network management systems.
  • Syslog: Syslog is an automated messaging system that sends messages when an event affects a network device. Technicians can set up devices to send out messages when the device encounters an error, shuts down unexpectedly, encounters a configuration failure and more. These messages often contain information that can be used for system management as well as security systems.
  • Scripts: In networks with gaps in network monitoring software functionality, scripts may be used to fill small gaps. Scripts are simple programs that collect basic information and instruct the network to perform an action within certain conditions. A common example would be a scheduled task like resetting and reconfiguring a public access computer every night. Scripts can also be used to collect data for network monitoring.

Once this data is collected, the network monitoring software sends out an alert if results don’t fall within certain thresholds. Network managers will usually set these thresholds of acceptable performance, programming the network software to send out an alert if its data indicates slow throughput, high error rates, unavailable devices or slow response times.

Collect data for monitoring software

As soon as the alert is sent out, one of two things may happen. If the system is a manual system, the network administrator will analyze the data and handle the error themselves. An increasing number of network monitoring systems, however, come equipped with some level of automation. In these cases, low-level errors may be automatically fixed by the network monitoring software, while high-level problems are brought to the attention of the network administrator.

Why Do You Need Network Monitoring?

Many corporations are skeptical of network monitoring. If your company’s network is running well, you may wonder if your business needs network monitoring at all. After all, it’s just one more thing for your network managers to keep track of. However, just because your current system works doesn’t mean that it’s working as well as it could be.

Network monitoring is all about optimizing and maintaining your network’s health. While the main goal is to make sure that your network is running, network monitoring can be an excellent way of improving your network performance. Below are just a few examples of what network monitoring can do for your business:

  • Receive immediate alerts: While traditional systems may require an administrator to log in and manually run checks in order to see any network errors, network management systems can send out alerts as soon as an error occurs. This way, downtime is minimized and network errors are addressed as promptly as possible.
  • Target patterns: Network monitoring systems are excellent at identifying patterns of performance. For example, they can help pinpoint specific groups of equipment that are underperforming so that network administrators can determine the cause and propose an effective solution.
  • Identify weak links: Network monitoring can alert administrators to the presence of overloaded equipment or weak WAN links before they become problems, allowing administrators to adjust the network configuration as needed to decrease the burden and eliminate bottlenecks.
  • Pinpoint waste: Just like network monitoring can spot overuse of equipment, it can also help identify underused equipment that could be eliminated or used differently.
  • Minimize data loss: Error-prone networks can lose essential data for your business. From corrupted files to dropped mail sessions, these errors can severely impact your company’s productivity and efficacy. Network management can minimize this by identifying errors and their sources, allowing administrators to fix the problem.
  • Maintain compliance: Network monitoring systems compile a massive database of information that can be extremely useful for compliance purposes. Potential compliance problems can be identified quickly, and your database can provide extensive information to be used for compliance reports.

All of the factors listed above feed into a business’s profits. Companies save money by minimizing downtime and errors and avoiding compliance issues, but also gain a greater level of efficiency and productivity by ensuring that their networks are as fast and available as possible. Companies can make even better use of their hardware and software, minimizing unnecessary purchases and making the most of existing resources.

Companies save money by minimizing downtime and errors

How Do You Choose Network Monitoring Software?

If you’re ready to implement network monitoring in your business, consider these points when looking into network monitoring software:

  • What data it collects: Any network monitoring software should be compatible with your network and collect information from various elements within your network. Make sure that any software you choose will monitor the type of data that matters to your business and is compatible with the network types, servers and devices your business uses.
  • How it presents data: Any monitoring software must also process and present the data it collects in a way that can be used. User-friendly formats are essential to make the most of network monitoring. Look for monitoring software that offers configurable alert systems and presents relevant statistics in a way that your network administrators can easily understand and use.
  • How much support it offers: If you can’t effectively configure your network monitoring solution, you won’t experience the benefits of network monitoring. When possible, look for network monitoring software and services that offer excellent support services and, ideally, configuration and set up services.

Wherever you get your monitoring tools, it’s best to thoroughly check how well they will work with your operating systems and network.

What Are Some Network Monitoring Best Practices?

When it comes to implementing network monitoring, keep these essential best practices in mind:

  • Know your network: Be certain your network map is up to date. While some network monitoring software automatically tracks network changes, it is still essential for your team to track it themselves to ensure that all areas are covered. This map should include the types of networks that need monitoring, the servers and hardware involved, any remote devices and other factors. This awareness makes it easier to find an appropriate network monitoring solution and helps identify gaps and potential upgrade needs.
  • Establish baselines: You can’t accurately determine what is abnormal in your network without knowing what is normal. Check on your network regularly to determine your network’s baselines and reassess your alert thresholds.
  • Create alert plans: Network monitoring becomes a moot point when alerts don’t reach the right people. When setting up your network monitoring system, firmly establish who is in charge of different aspects of the network and set up systems to ensure that alerts go to the correct people. Additionally, create organizational policies pertaining to alerts — for example, if an alert occurs after hours, who handles it?
  • Reassess regularly: Companies and networks change constantly, and your network monitoring should change with it. Every time a major change occurs in staffing, network configuration, company policy or company structure, reassess your network, network monitoring system and all associated issues to verify that everything is covered.

This can be quite a lot to consider for companies that are new to network monitoring solutions. If your business needs assistance choosing and implementing a network monitoring solution, Worldwide Services can help.

Why Work With an Expert?

When you’re implementing a network monitoring solution for the first time, the task can be daunting. However, working with an expert can streamline the process — they can help you determine what your needs are, what to look for and how to get started. The best companies can even provide continuous support throughout your partnership.

If you’re looking for a network expert, Worldwide Services is here. Our certified engineers are available to help you with your configuration support and system design needs, and we offer 24/7 remote technical support programs for our clients. We even provide extensive spare and repair services for our international clients. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the telecom industry and can ensure that your business benefits from the best the industry has to offer.

Contact Worldwide Services today to learn more about our products and services and how they can help you get up and running with network monitoring.

Contact Worldwide services for network monitoring solutions

read more
Why you should work with a GSA-certified third party maintenance provider

Why You Should Work With a GSA-Certified Third-Party Maintenance Provider | June 25th, 2019

Companies have a range of choices when it comes to choosing a maintenance provider.

You can partner with businesses certified by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) or work with uncertified organizations, like original equipment manufacturers (OEM) or third-party maintenance (TPM) providers.

While your business has a variety of options, many companies find success with GSA-certified companies.

The benefits of a GSA contract range from streamlined communication to optimized budget spending, which impacts not only the day-to-day of your staff but also the bottom line of your business.

Before your company chooses a maintenance provider, whether an OEM, TPM, or GSA-certified organization, it’s essential to understand the value and importance of a GSA-certified partner.

What Is a GSA Certification?

GSA approval is a certification that stipulates the authorization of an organization to engage in commercial transactions with the U.S. government. All sales to the government get handled through the U.S. General Services Administration, which serves as the purchasing branch of the U.S. government. The GSA produces a list of contracts and schedules that approved vendors can access to place bids on government business.

Vendors in a range of industries receive GSA approval.

Any company that manufacturers products which could be of use to the U.S. government can apply. To become eligible, a vendor must get a DUNS number and submit to the federal System for Award Management (SAM) program. An application must also contain contact information of prior customers so that the GSA can evaluate the applicant’s performance history.

To become GSA certified, a vendor must submit to a stringent round of vetting.

Government approval of GSA organizations

In addition to the application period, each applicant must undergo a pricing review and furnish proof of compliance with a range of regulatory entities. Once the application process finishes, certification gets rewarded to vendors that have met strict criteria.

To be approved, your organization will need to have a track record of success, compliance and customer satisfaction.

GSA Schedules classify the various industries and contracts that are open for transactions with certified vendors.

The biggest of the 60-plus GSA Schedulers is IT Schedule 70. Due to the rapid development of computer technology, government entities are taking extra measures to ensure that all new products are tested to the highest standards to prevent the possibility of risk.

Third Party Maintenance Providers vs. Uncertified OEMs

An uncertified original equipment manufacturer will generally require that customers submit to a pre-conceived service-level agreement, granting the customer little in terms of leeway.

OEM companies also fixate on hardware as opposed to service.

Not to mention, OEM protocols are generally rigid, as is often necessary among companies that work at such a massive scale. The service-level agreements are also strict and do not take into account the individual needs of customers. OEMs will typically stuff their service offers with disclaimers, thereby covering themselves if they cannot fulfill an agreement.

The Importance of GSA Certification

Why get GSA-certified help for your business?

When you hire the services of a GSA-certified maintenance provider, you can have access to a range of top-quality tech skills and talents, the likes of which are hard to come across in the outside world. Best of all, the services can get rendered at a much lower cost than you would otherwise pay with an in-house team or by hiring an uncertified OEM.

The best reasons to work with a GSA-certified third-party maintenance provider can be summarized as follows:

1. Communication

One of the most significant benefits of having a GSA contract is the ease of communication that the relationship facilitates between your company and the third-party IT service. The staff that provides GSA-certified maintenance services is always easy to communicate with whenever any questions, concerns or issues arise.

When you hire a GSA service, the personnel are happy to put things in laymen’s terms.

GSA-certified maintenance providers are always available for contact too.

Whether you operate from a single headquarters or multiple locations, your staff can contact people from the third-party IT department to get answers to questions at any time, night or day. GSA-certified services are staffed with IT techs that will answer any questions that you might raise regarding systems or services.

Even if an issue seems confusing to the people on your end, you can get answers quickly with a simple explanation by the IT staff of your third-party GSA-certified maintenance provider.

The IT staff of a GSA-certified maintenance provider will speak in a language that you and your team can understand. You will never have to worry about receiving answers steeped in technical jargon and industry code. Your provider will word answers in a way that’s clear and transparent.

IT staff of a GSA certified maintenance provider

GSA-certified maintenance providers are ready to work on your terms as a company as well.

If you need to scale your business down for a season, the third-party IT staff will be willing and ready to scale back according to your needs. The services are also flexible and accommodating. If you need to scale up for a particular time of year, the third-party staff will be willing and ready to take on the extra workloads.

GSA-certified maintenance providers understand a full range of solutions.

Whatever issues arise in your computing operations, the third-party IT staff will meet the challenges head-on.

2. Service Life

Another one of the benefits of GSA contract services is the skill that the third-party IT techs can provide your organization.

On all the equipment submitted to the third-party IT departments, everything is given careful handling during the technical processes carried out on a given shift. You never have to worry about delicate equipment falling into unskilled hands.

GSA-certified maintenance providers employ qualified techs who have each undergone extensive amounts of training. Each staffer is extensively versed in the full range of hardware installation and software programming.

If you need to have an operating system upgraded or replaced with a newer version, you can count on the expert programming of a third-party IT department from your GSA-certified maintenance provider. Whenever you invest in expensive equipment and high-tech arsenal components, you can count on the third-party IT techs to handle the hardware with the utmost care, ensuring a long-lasting service life for each part in your computer infrastructure.

Unlike in-house operations, which are often blindsided by security breaches, a GSA-certified third-party IT staff will protect your system and computing infrastructure from foreign attacks, taking on challenges the moment they get detected. When you outsource your computing to a third-party IT department, you are protecting your investment in all your high-cost computer equipment.

You never have to worry about viruses due to in-house human error.

A GSA-certified IT staff can make expensive computer equipment last far longer than it would otherwise last if subjected to the use and abuse of less qualified hands. As such, you can save money that would otherwise get invested in the frequent replacement of computer parts.

Third-party IT services allow you to maximize your investment in a computer infrastructure. Instead of having to adjust to new operating systems and update each component on a one-by-one basis for compatibility, everything gets updated and made fully compatible at once.

With all the benefits of GSA contract services, your organization can become a more profitable enterprise because it allows you to save money and time that might otherwise get spent on computing. Instead, you can focus on your core strengths as a company.

3. Savings

GSA-certified maintenance services are reasonably priced, especially when compared to some of the other options on the market in today’s third-party services sector. For example, a GSA-certified maintenance service will generally help you reap significant savings in contrast to the equivalent services of an uncertified OEM or TPM, which sometimes charge twice as much for the same services.

OEM prices are typically steep and inflexible, with a service-level agreement designed to put their needs over yours.

You are unlikely to find an uncertified OEM that will negotiate terms with consideration for your needs as a client business. OEMs will often set terms that include other services that might be unnecessary for your business. Despite this, you will still have to pay for these extra services because the agreement is ironclad and will not allow flexibility.

For example, there may be times when your business will only require computing for a range of operations at a moderate scale, yet the OEM will still have you pay for maximum, full-scale services that could more than double your overhead.

Likewise, an OEM might lock you into a set of terms with no flexibility for possible changes that may occur over the year. If you suddenly need to scale up or scale down because of a surge or gap in business, for example, you are still likely to be charged a stiff, flat rate with an uncertified OEM.

GSA-certified maintenance providers receive certification, in part, due to fair pricing and a proven track record of customer satisfaction. During the stringent application process, a service provider must demonstrate its commitment to fair service prices to become certified.

The money that your company could save by employing a GSA-certified maintenance provider could ultimately get allocated for other uses, such as new equipment, increased advertising and employee pay raises.

Your company can be saving money from working with a third party maintenance provider

Overall, choosing a GSA-certified service over an OEM or TPM can help you lower costs and increase your bottom line, leaving you with more money to invest in other areas.

4. Centralized Maintenance

The importance of GSA certification becomes readily apparent when you consider the benefits of centralized maintenance, which gets provided to the highest standards by third-party IT teams.

GSA-certified maintenance providers work with simple setups that utilize necessary hardware and software. Thanks to the tech expertise of the staff at GSA-certified companies, computing arsenals are minimized to their essentials.

When you employ a GSA-certified maintenance provider, your entire IT arsenal gets organized for maximum efficiency.

There is no risk of equipment wearing down due to bent cords or dusty parts. Unlike in regular IT departments, where a company runs everything in-house and a company’s staff handles computing tasks, there is no disorganization with a certified maintenance provider.

With a GSA-certified third-party maintenance provider, all equipment gets conveniently laid out so that all functions are immediately accessible the moment one needs activating. While an in-house IT department might consist of an overcrowded room with company staff that often fumble for different commands, everything is laid out for maximum ease of use by a third-party maintenance provider.

The services provided by a GSA-certified maintenance provider get designed to meet your needs, regardless of the size, scope or scale of your company. In the areas where computing gets handled, there are no external components to soak up energy, adding needlessly to your monthly expenses.

If a component is not necessary for your operations, it is not left plugged in to serve as an energy drain.

GSA-certified third-party maintenance providers have all IT arsenals set up for easy execution.

If you need to have a program or update rolled out, it will all be done from a remote location and made universally compatible across your active, in-house devices. GSA-certified services also offer maximum security, keeping your computer system protected from viruses and cyber attacks.

5. Qualified Staff

When you enlist the services of a GSA-certified maintenance provider for your IT needs, your company will benefit from an in-depth level of computing knowledge second to none.

GSA-certified maintenance providers only employ the most qualified IT techs, each of whom come to the job with vast experience in all areas of computing technology, from hardware repair and troubleshooting to program installation and security.

The skills that each IT tech brings to the table for a GSA maintenance provider combine to make third-party IT services virtually foolproof. There is almost no risk of programs getting executed poorly or corrupting your pre-existing system when you outsource to a third party.

With a third-party IT service, you also get access to numerous insights regarding computer efficiency.

You can get numerous insights regarding efficiency

You might learn that various machines within your arsenal are unnecessary and have served as nothing more than an energy drain. The IT tech professionals employed by GSA-certified maintenance providers are also known for having great foresight when it comes to security matters.

The moment a new threat appears, the IT staff will set up barriers to prevent an attack on your system.

GSA-certified maintenance technicians are also creative when it comes to solutions that make computer arsenals more efficient and up-to-date. When you have access to the ingenuity of some of the most skilled and insightful minds and hands in the tech world, your company can gain invaluable insights that will help you save money and move forward in the marketplace.

Overall, GSA-certified companies provide organization to the computing operations of the client businesses they serve. When you outsource your computing operations to a GSA-certified third party, you can save money and allocate more resources for running your company.

GSA-Certified Maintenance From Worldwide Services

When you run a business, many different areas need simultaneous management.

Even though computing is one of the most crucial aspects of business operations in today’s world, computing requires a set of skills peripheral to most companies. The solution is to hire a GSA-certified maintenance third-party service provider, which will handle your computing needs so that you can focus on running your business.

Consider GSA-certified third-party maintenance with Worldwide Services.

To learn more about our range of services, contact us today and request a quote.

read more
Choosing the Right Security Equipment for Your Network

Choosing the Right Security Equipment for Your Network | January 31st, 2019

Network security is crucial for businesses of any size. Cyber threats are continually evolving, and cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to infiltrate networks. In 2017, organizations publicly disclosed 1,579 data breaches, 44.7 percent more than in 2016. In addition to several high-profile cybersecurity incidents, cybercriminals are increasingly attacking small and medium-sized businesses. Despite this, 77 percent of respondents in a recent survey of IT professionals said their organizations don’t have a formal cyber incident response plan in place.

In today’s environment, organizations of all types and sizes need to take steps to protect their networks and have plans for how they’ll respond if an incident occurs. Choosing the right business network security equipment is a vital part of this.

Data Breach Stats

Conducting a Network Security Audit

A practical first step in the process of choosing this equipment is performing a network security audit — a comprehensive review of your cybersecurity technologies, practices and threats. This assessment will help you to establish a security baseline to assess your performance against, ensure that regulations and practices are followed and develop an ongoing security strategy. It will also help you find any areas where your security may be weak. You can then choose tools that address those needs.

You might decide to do either an external or internal audit. With an external review, you get the benefit of an unbiased, outside perspective from an experienced professional. Some regulations may require an external audit — cost is a primary barrier to conducting external reviews. Internal audits are easier to perform and less expensive but can fall prey to bias or lack of perspective. You may wish to do an external audit every year with internal audits throughout the year.

You can break your network security audit down into five steps:

  1. Define the Scope of the Audit: First, you need to determine what the examination will include. For example, you need to decide whether to review managed or non-managed devices or both.
  2. Define the Threats: Next, list the potential threats your organization faces. This list might include malware, phishing, inadvertent insiders and natural disasters.
  3. Prioritize According to Risk: Then, calculate the risk of each threat. Some factors that may influence this include past incidents at your organization, the trends in your industry and cybersecurity in general and the sensitivity of the information you handle.
  4. Assess the Current Security Conditions: By this point, you should start to have an understanding of where your organization stands cybersecurity-wise regarding the items identified in the scope of the audit.
  5. Decide on Steps to Reduce Risks: Next, you will determine what steps to take to address the risks affecting your organization. These actions might include improving network monitoring, updating software, educating employees and installing new equipment. Your plan should incorporate ongoing assessment of your network security.

Types of Security Equipment

Choosing the right network security solutions for your organization can be a challenging part of the audit process. To help with that, here’s an overview of 14 of the most common types of equipment, as well as how they may be able to help your organization.

1. Anti-Malware Tools

Anti-malware products help to identify, block and remove malicious software, commonly referred to as malware. This malicious software includes viruses, ransomware, spyware, worms and Trojans. Top-performing anti-malware tools can remove malware that may already be in the system and fix any damage it may have caused in addition to scanning for malware and stop them from infiltrating a network in the first place.

Anti-malware products come in the form of software that can install on individual devices, a gateway server or a dedicated network appliance. It can also be hosted either locally or in the cloud. These tools may identify malware by comparing its code to that of known malware. They may also use behavior-based detection, which involves identifying malware based on its behaviors and characteristics. If it attempts to perform an unauthorized or abnormal, the anti-malware tool will remove it. Some anti-malware programs use sandboxing, a technique in which the system tests the software in an isolated environment to determine whether it’s safe to introduce it to the rest of the network.

2. Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems

Intrusion detection and prevention systems, or IDS and IPS, scan network traffic to block attacks. They use a database of known signatures to detect malware. Whereas anti-malware programs scan individual files, IDS and IPS scan network packets. They can detect malware, policy violations and other types of attacks. It can come as hardware or software.

IDS and IPS perform different functions. IDS passively monitors the network and detects and classifies potential threats. IPS can perform these tasks but can also prevent attacks. Some IPS can also track suspicious files across the network to prevent it from spreading. In some configurations, an IPS will identify a malicious packer before it enters the system. In others, it receives a copy of the packet after it arrives at its destination. Some of the challenges associated with using IPS are its relatively high cost and the potential to block legitimate traffic if the system is misconfigured.

3. Firewalls

Firewall Security

Firewalls create a barrier between the internal network and outside networks, such as the Internet. They monitor incoming and outgoing traffic and determine whether to allow that traffic through or block it using a pre-defined set of rules. Firewalls can either hardware or software.

There are several types of firewalls:

  • Packet-Filtering Firewalls: These compare each packet it receives to a set of pre-determined criteria and blocks them if it perceives them as a potential threat. This is the original type of firewall.
  • Circuit-Level Gateways: These systems monitor TCP handshakes, a method of creating a connection that requires the client and server to exchange acknowledgment packets before beginning data communication. They use this handshake to determine whether a session is legitimate.
  • Stateful Inspection Firewalls: These firewalls assess each packet and also check whether it is part of an approved TCP handshake.
  • Application-Level Gateways: These gateways perform filtering at the application level and combine aspects of packet filtering and circuit-level gateways. They are also referred to as proxy firewalls.
  • Next-Generation Firewalls: Next-generation firewalls are part of a broad category of advanced firewalls. They may combine aspects of stateful inspection, packet inspection and deep packet inspection, which looks into the data of the packet rather than just the header.

4. Network Access Control Products

Network access control (NAC) solutions help to ensure that users follow security policies and keep out potential attackers. They can identify non-compliant devices and block them from accessing the network. They can also control the amount of data that individual users have access to, or place non-compliant devices in a quarantined part of the network.

NAC products enable network managers to monitor the devices that are connected to or attempting to connect to a network. It also allows for the management of guest access. The use of NAC solutions has become more important due to the increased prevalence of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the internet of things (IoT).

5. Security Information and Event Management Products

Security Information and Event Management, or SIEM, software tracks activity from multiple sources across the network. This gives the information they need to identify and respond to threats. A SIEM program can detect variations from normal operations and take action accordingly. If it picks up on a potential issue, it might send an alert, log additional information and direct other security programs to stop the suspicious activity.

A SIEM system may be rules-based or use a statistical correlation engine to detect anomalies. Some use artificial intelligence to improve over time their ability to identify suspicious activity. SIEM software has two main benefits. It gives cybersecurity an overview of network activity and helps to detect and take action against suspicious activity.

6. Mobile Device Management Software

In 2016, 71 percent of employees spent more than two hours per week accessing company information on mobile devices. Some companies have BYOD policies, while other employers provide company-owned devices, but either way, the prevalence of using mobile devices at work is growing.

Having higher numbers of mobile devices on a company’s networks increases security risks, and mobile device management (MDM) solutions can help with this. MDM software allows for remote monitoring and control of mobile device access to the network. It also enables security staff to remotely control security configurations, enforce policies and push patches out to mobile devices.

7. Application Security Products

Security should be a central integration in the design and use of any software. Application security refers to the hardware, software and processes companies use to protect their applications, whether they’re hosted on-site or in the cloud. Applications security tools include products that identify and fix flaws in application design, scan applications for potential threats and defect against application-layer attacks.

Some examples of application security products include application firewalls, routers that prevent the IP address of a computer from displaying on the internet and biometric authentication systems. Many applications also have security measures built into them, and you can help protect applications through processes such as creating security profiles for all applications.

8. Authentication and Authorization Technologies

Authorization Technologies

Authentication tools enable the identification of individual users, while authorization tools manage users’ permissions to complete tasks. These two technologies often work together to enhance security.

Authentication may require the user to put in a username and password, scan a card or undergo biometric identification through methods such as fingerprint scanning, voice recognition or retina scans. Authentication may also involve the server giving the client a certificate that verifies its identity. Directory-based services like Active Directory authenticate users and use authorization rules to control their access permissions. Other technologies use methods such as digital certificates and public key infrastructure solutions. The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) also provides additional security.

9. Data Loss Prevention Technologies

Organizations that handle sensitive data need to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Data loss prevention (DLP) tools can help with this. These technologies are designed to prevent sensitive information from leaving the organization’s network, whether purposely or accidentally, via email, instant message, file transfers, website forms and even printing. DLP technologies use rules to spot sensitive information and abnormal transfers of data.

10. Email Security Appliances

Email is a leading security threat, and all organizations that use email should take steps to protect it. Unsecured email systems can lead to vulnerability to phishing, viruses, identity theft and hacking. Security software and technology, as well as established security practices and policies, can help protect an organization from email-related threats. Some email software comes with integrated security measures. Email security tools can be hosted on-premise or in the cloud.

Email security appliances may be able to detect and block fraudulent senders and prevent attackers from using your domain. They may also provide protection from any malware that may be included in an email, including files that become malicious after staying dormant for some time.

11. Web Security Solutions

Lots of threats are hidden across the internet, even on otherwise legitimate websites. Web security solutions can block risky sites and other web-based threats, as well as test unknown sites before letting users link to them. They may also monitor network activity, detect web-based threats and repair damage caused by them. Web security tools also allow staff to monitor and control what’s happening on an organization’s network. It can help in enforcing policies for web use.

12. Virtual Private Networks

VPN Virtual Private Network Security

Virtual private networks, or VPNs, are an essential security measure if you have branch offices or remote workers who need to access company applications and resources. VPNs are encrypted connections from a device to a network, or between two networks, that takes place over the internet. They ensure that data can be securely transmitted and prevent unauthorized individuals from eavesdropping on your traffic. VPNs use authentication technology to verify the identity of a user. They may also ensure that a device meets security requirements before allowing it to connect.

13. Behavioral Analytics Tools

Behavioral analytics tools establish a baseline of normal activity across the network and then monitor for activity that’s out of the ordinary. If they detect an anomaly, they can send an alert to security staff who can take action to stop the attack. These types of tools may use artificial intelligence to uncover abnormal activity. Behavioral analytics tools are useful for detecting attacks that may have slipped past preventative measures.

14. All-in-One Network Security Hardware Appliances

Some security equipment combines multiple features into one device. These types of devices are sometimes called network security hardware appliances. These tools act as an all-in-one security gate and may perform the functions of a network firewall, VPN and router. It works to prevent threats from entering your network and can alert you if an attempted attack occurs.

There are various types of these all-in-one devices. One example is the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance 5500 series, which provides next-generation firewall security and VPN functionality. The Juniper NetScreen-5GT includes a next-generation firewall, VPN capabilities and integrated malware protection.

Security Products and Services From Worldwide Supply and Worldwide Services

 

At Worldwide Supply and Worldwide Services, we have an extensive inventory of products, including many security products from top brands. We offer new, used and refurbished equipment and can save you as much as 80 percent on purchasing form OEMs. We also provide same-day and next-day delivery to many cities around the world.

In addition, we provide managed IT services including third-party maintenance, network monitoring and lifecycle management. To explore our inventory of security products, browse our products page. You can also contact us for help find the right product for you.

read more

When You Should Use a Third-Party Maintenance Provider | January 03rd, 2019

All equipment breaks — it’s just a matter of time. What’s most important when that happens is how soon you’ll be back up and running. Your choice of maintenance providers and repair services can mean the difference between keeping your network going strong or having to wait, delay and refund customers.

It can be difficult to understand when to use third-party maintenance providers in these mission-critical situations. We’d like to provide you with five main things to consider about your big maintenance decision.

1. Supporting Every Piece

One of the best reasons for choosing when to use third-party maintenance is when your network uses equipment from different providers. A TPM can provide service on equipment from multiple OEMs and even more product families under a single contract.

Having one source for your maintenance and emergency repair support means you only need to have one contract, regardless of what needs service. When a TPM is your sole provider, you can save significant time when your network goes down, and it can speed up repairs to get top-line equipment back in the field.

Third-party service providers also have more experience with different OEM equipment. Their expertise ensures the technician can address your product and its larger role in your network. For instance, our support team can best advise repairs or replacements for your Oracle gear based on what’s deployed in your back office, remote sites and on-premise installs.

Knowing when to use a TPM can dramatically speed up your recovery with comprehensive support.

2. Saving Money

You already know that third-party equipment providers can help you save significantly on the items you purchase. Turning to that same company to provide your service and maintenance can continue those savings.

Your equipment provider typically offers a comprehensive warranty on the goods you buy. For instance, Worldwide Services provides a lifetime warranty on each piece of new or refurbished equipment we sell. Relying on that warranty, instead of purchasing a warranty or service through an OEM, ensures you’re getting the most out of your investment.

The main concern for costs with a TPM is whether you’re using unauthorized or unlicensed hardware and software. Ask your TPM about the products they sell and the support they offer. Always request documentation around licensing, too. One of the biggest questions around when to use a third-party maintenance provider is if you can trust them. It is perfectly reasonable to ask a TPM to back up that trust.

3. Prioritizing Availability

Large OEMs have large maintenance and service departments filled with multiple layers of managers and complex hierarchies. Every request for support is raised up the flagpole higher and higher, until it’s finally approved. For your network and mission-critical components, this might take too long.

TPMs specialize in availability. It’s how they earn their living with support, plus it’s how they ensure they have the right products people need. To meet these needs, TPMs have teams that can quickly be deployed to service or replace customer components. The faster a TPM can get to you and make that repair, the sooner they get paid or have a new piece of equipment to sell to someone else.

TPMs prioritize speed to maximize customer satisfaction as well.

4. Extending Equipment Life

Equipment in your network can be dozens of years old. Some pieces might even be beyond their end-of-service and end-of-life dates. When equipment reaches those dates, traditional OEMs limit or halt the service and maintenance they provide.

If you’re looking at older equipment you need to keep to run your networking, consider a TPM. These providers are often able to keep your equipment in prime condition, extending its life. TPMs aren’t trying to get you to replace equipment with the newest model. TPMs want to help you maintain your network however is best for you.

5. Improving Costs Versus OEMs

In our experience, OEM support costs and contracts tend to rise in price after your initial term, sometimes as short as a few months. In other words, the costs go up when you’ll actually need maintenance or service. You don’t have a chance to negotiate this either.

Working with a TPM gives you a chance to have costs set for the full contract or warranty period. Plus, most offer packages designed to reduce your costs or are willing to discuss specific coverage and pricing options to fit your budget. An OEM is large and has standard contracts to streamline the process on their end. What’s most important, however, is getting things right on your end.

Think about your biggest concern. Is it price, replacements or innovation? How does an OEM’s rigid structure support these ideals? What would make it more appealing to you?

The right TPM can help you answer those questions and tailor a package to suit your needs based on those answers. Worldwide Services does just that for the more than 14,000 businesses we partner with each year. It’s the main reason they come back time and again.

Contact us for a free consultation to see why it might be the right option for you.

read more

How Your Business Can Reduce Network Equipment Maintenance Costs | December 04th, 2018

Network Equipment Maintenance Costs

IT managers spend ample time choosing network equipment that best suits their companies’ needs, but often make less-than-optimal decisions about the most cost-effective strategy to save money on network maintenance costs. However, the job doesn’t end with selecting and installing the equipment. Understanding which maintenance and support contracts to purchase, aligning their payments with other contracts, planning for the machine’s projected lifespan and taking advantage of new technology are only a few aspects of how you can reduce network equipment maintenance costs.

Network equipment maintenance is necessary to make sure your investments in equipment last as long as possible and keep your tools operating at the highest efficiency levels. Every internal and external device within a network plays a role in ensuring data is accessible, and all facets of the system are functioning properly. Without a properly working network, strategic decisions become more volatile and unpredictable. There are several ways to increase network availability, reduce maintenance costs and make your business run much more cost-effectively.

Review Projections to Reduce Costs

IT professionals should always keep thorough documentation of the inventory and map of the network. Doing so allows you to assess each network component, and assign it an appropriate maintenance service level. Implementing a good network strategy will make it easier to create and meet measurable goals while optimizing network design, making the wisest investments for necessary equipment and gaining maintenance contracts.

Conduct network growth projections two to five years in advance. Doing so will save you time by not having to establish different subnet designations each time you make a change to the network, and you can also find areas where you can save money by reviewing how critical each component is to the business. After deciding which elements are the most vital, IT professionals can better plan for network performance and alternative support options, and further improve hardware, maintenance and support.

Analyze Current Maintenance and Support Contracts

Analyze Current Maintenance

When reviewing existing maintenance and support contracts, the first step in measuring their effectiveness is to rank them in order of their importance. The more critical the device is to the business, the higher the service level it requires. Gear more toward the bottom of the list may not need any maintenance. When considering the application of maintenance and support in your networking software and hardware, here are some things to consider:

  • Importance equipment has to the business
  • Risk of having lower-level service
  • Impact equipment failure would have on the business

For example, if a workgroup switch goes down and affects a dozen or so employees, it won’t be too detrimental to the company’s well-being, and the workers will likely be happy to have a bit of a break in their day. However, if a core router goes down and impacts many functions and individuals working throughout a network, significant problems could arise for the company.

Keeping spares on hand is a great idea, combined with spares management contracts for your equipment that will replace a faulty part upon its failure. Instate a sparing policy to determine the minimum total cost of investment and load curtailment costs, while classifying spares and failure rates. Using a sparing method can optimize your substation components to maintain network uptime and save your business money by helping you know what spare materials you have on hand and how best to use them.

OEM contracts have also earned a reputation for tacking on certain perks that aren’t necessary to gain access to a service or offering you may need. By bundling services, they appear to be offering more value, but in reality, they are just creating unnecessary coverage and substantially increasing the cost.

Maintenance contracts often include guarantees for replacements or repair if you have an issue with any parts. Frequently, the agreement encompasses more than just this benefit, and regularly releases software updates that keep routers and firewalls running optimally. IT managers often overlook these updates, so make a point to check equipment for software updates.

Worldwide Services customers save as much as 50 to 90 percent on network equipment preventive maintenance with NetGuard. NetGuard is Worldwide Services’ maintenance program that allows IT professionals to add and manage any support contract. If you order a replacement, it will arrive within 24 hours, and come with expert-level technical assistance.

Extend Equipment Life

Extend Equipment Life

Once a piece of equipment is more than 10 years old, it is likely time to consider a replacement. When searching for equipment to purchase, always be mindful of limited lifetime warranties many manufacturers offer. These types of warranties are best for less critical parts of your network, and come packaged with technical support and hardware replacement. In addition to the benefit of not having to worry about your equipment failing prematurely, you also can save on support and maintenance costs. When deciding the best maintenance service level to purchase, a few elements should be at the forefront of your decision:

  • Type of equipment
  • Age of equipment
  • Importance equipment has to the business

IT managers often choose the same level of service for all their equipment to save time and maintain uniformity among contracts. However, this isn’t the best practice, since it typically results in wasteful expenditures that would have been preventable with a little more research and time during the selection process.

Original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, get IT managers to spend extra money by building in a need for equipment replacements, or double-covering existing equipment. A strategy they use is to issue an “end-of-life” notice on equipment that may be at the end of its shelf life, but is still performing perfectly. Taking the OEM’s word for the equipment needing a replacement leads many customers to make new purchases unnecessarily.

Proper Management of Maintenance Contracts

Networks are always changing, with new parts coming in simultaneously as older parts are getting repurposed and swapped to other machines, or in some cases, discarded. While there’s such a vast variety of devices on different contracts from separate vendors and expiration dates, managing contracts and keeping track of equipment can be incredibly stressful and time-consuming.

Most IT professionals who deal with these challenges in their line of work use basic methods of contract management that may do a proficient job at keeping track of your assets, but ensuring with complete certainty your inventory is not causing any problems due to coverage gaps can allow you to create an even more successful maintenance strategy.

Aligning your contracts to terminate simultaneously can make for an easier renewal process going forward. Consolidating various maintenance contracts to tailor to your business’ needs, instead of a deal that spans multiple years or locks you in indefinitely, is a lousy option as opposed to a more flexible monthly plan. Avoiding automatic renewal clauses is good practice, because although these contracts ensure you’ll never lack coverage, they keep you locked into the same coverage and price plan, potentially prohibiting you from getting their best rate. By planning when your contracts will renew, you can enjoy increased network availability and reduced maintenance costs.

A good practice is to lock in your annual rate for three to five years ahead of time. Negotiating a set rate ahead of time will save you time annually because you won’t need to renegotiate budgets, which simplifies planning. You can use the time you saved to look further ahead in your business plan and figure out the best method of attack once the predetermined time you set your annual rates expires.

Be sure your contracts explicitly state a clear understanding of requirements, so no party involved can plead ignorance to fulfilling it. Any network maintenance contract should describe which services the agreement covers, what it does not, the role of both the OEM and the client within the deal, timeframes of service and specific procedures for resolving issues.

Many inventory and contract management tools have systems in place to help maintain your network equipment and develop better strategies without the added stress. If your network uses more than 1,000 devices, it is even more important to use third-party software to organize your inventory maintenance and renewal processes.

Consider Hybrid Support Services

Hybrid Support Services

Hybrid support services — the combination of internal and external services using both internal and public clouds to support a business outcome — are a growing trend that is transforming the role of information technology. These services are best for the following:

  • Connecting several clouds
  • Identifying and classifying data
  • Implementing a more service-oriented architecture

Cloud computing comes with advantages and disadvantages. It offers significantly lower overhead through the transfer of services to cloud providers in exchange for a more volatile and dynamic market than traditional IT computing environments.

It may be a good idea to use cloud computing for less critical IT services like projects in the development phase or testing applications. There’s little risk in experimenting with hybrid support services in situations that prove less detrimental if anything were to go wrong.

When handling critical data and essential applications, several drawbacks make IT organizations more reluctant to embrace cloud services fully. Common issues include:

  • Failure to meet security requirements
  • Failure to integrate with enterprise management
  • Hosting critical applications is not guaranteed

Combating these issues is where hybrid IT architecture can come into play. By using both the external cloud and internal methods, IT organizations can offer their customers the speed, price and capacity of the cloud while keeping the security the organization requires for its most critical components.

Be a Savvy Shopper

Limited research leads IT decision makers to succumb to marketing tactics, or arrive at a costly decision when there is a better one at a more affordable price right around the corner. Take ample time when choosing equipment and contracts, and always be sure to get quotes from multiple vendors to drastically cut costs from your IT budget.

Shopping around allows you to become more familiar with the market and make more sensible decisions on what a reasonable price is for the sort of coverage you are looking for. Also, be wary of deals that seem to be a steal, because you have very likely overlooked details in the fine print.

Once a potential vendor has informed you of their rate, make sure that is the best price they are willing to offer. Rates are always negotiable, and the vendor is likely to reduce their costs if they know it’s the difference between landing you as a customer or not. It never hurts to ask, even if you have to be assertive in your negotiations.

Third-party hardware maintenance providers are also excellent for finding coverage very similar to more expensive competitors while paying a fraction of the price. Compared to OEMs, third-party providers also generally operate more freely, allowing them to grant you more flexibility in a plan. Their business also usually follows fewer protocols compared to a large manufacturer, so they can tailor a plan specifically to you. It is important to research a third-party company to ensure you are not sacrificing quality, but most of the time, manufacturers use third-party providers on their own accord to handle maintenance coverages.

A used product is also an option if you are not looking to invest in brand-new equipment. Considering purchasing a secondhand device isn’t a bad suggestion if its function is less critical to your business. If a used product is significantly less expensive than its brand-new counterpart, a little research into the item to determine if it has any faults, or its projected lifespan, could prove to be cost-effective if it operates just as well as a new part.

Companies such as Worldwide Services provide millions of products that are available online and for immediate delivery. Worldwide Services offers 24/7 technical support, certified engineers for configuration support and system design and spare and repair services, all to the highest international standard. If you believe a third-party hardware maintenance company may not offer the same security in your purchases compared to a name brand, this is untrue for many smaller, reputable dealers. Worldwide Services provides a lifetime warranty, and we give value to our customers by offering information and assistance on our company blog that has industry-specific insights into the IT world you can use to optimize your career. You can also contact us directly here for any questions you may have.

Understanding the Market

Understanding the Market

Saving on network maintenance costs ultimately comes down to allocating your time and resources to the right actions. Projecting the rate of growth within your network, setting a standard for equipment and contracts years ahead, reviewing ongoing contracts’ efficiency and relevance to your business’ success, choosing the correct warranty for your equipment and exercising wise shopping practices are at the forefront of importance for how your business can reduce network equipment maintenance costs.

Contact Us

read more

Leading Technology Brands Supported