As the Christmas food coma begins to lift and with new beginnings on the brain, it’s a good time to inspect and revamp your network to avoid any nasty surprises in the coming year.

We have compiled a list of suggestions for network managers to help increase efficiency, availability and security for their company’s network.

 

Housekeeping and Maintenance

Despite our best efforts, it’s easy for the little jobs to stack up, and before we know it that list of 10 has tripled. A new year is a good time to clear out all the cobwebs and put the little things to right.

  • Make sure all the accounts of former employees have been deactivated.
  • Download and install the latest updates and patches for your:
    • Operating system
    • Anti-spam, anti-virus and Firmware
    • Firewalls
    • Switches
    • Laptops/desktops
  • Test your backup systems and review your Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan.

 

Capacity implementation/review

If you have monitoring in place, review your company’s use of bandwidth, memory and CPU. Analyse trends and anticipate growth rather than waiting to reach critical mass before expanding services, thereby avoiding growing pains.

Put policies and rules in place to prioritise traffic where needed so that critical services such as phones won’t be superseded by casual internet use.

If you don’t have monitoring in place, then get that up and running so that you can get a clear view of your network and how it’s being used.

 

IPV6

As we already know, IPV4 address space is running out fast and it seems that every day more and more devices are being connected to the Internet. Whilst we cannot really predict the growth of the Internet, we can make a good guess that there will be a large increase in the amount of devices that will need to communicate with each other. Going forward, IPV6 will enable this increase in connected devices.

If you have not already started to learn about IPV6 and plan for its implementation then this should be one of your considerations this year. Make sure that all existing and new equipment purchases will support IPV6, also, consider training your staff for IPV6.

 

Security

In 2016 there were many high profile cyber attacks involving Ransomware, Phishing and IoT DDOS attacks that compromised businesses and consumers, we believe that these will continue and multiply. We should all have security firmly on our radar and develop strategies to ensure that we minimize our exposure to cyber attacks as much as possible.

Some ways of minimizing our risks:

  • Educate Staff
  • Make Backups regularly and test them.
  • Keep OS’s up to date and prioritize new patches
  • Keep web browsers updated and prioritize new patches
  • Ensure Firewall rules allow only the minimum required access
  • Monitor and remove any legacy firewall rules that are no longer in use
  • Baseline your network traffic to understand and alert when the traffic pattern is abnormal
  • Scan incoming emails for suspicious attachments including compressed attachments
  • Scan traffic for Viruses and Malware and the Network level as well as by using host based scanning.
  • Implement IDS/IPS/DOS/DDOS and test these.
  • Have a solid web filtering solution in place.
  • Regularly audit your I.T infrastructure

 

Plan for projects

Instead of the normal mad dash followed by long delays because some detail was overlooked, properly plan for upcoming projects. List out all that will be needed for the project to go forward, such as:

  • Detailed plan including all necessary hardware and support
  • Approval from management
  • Funding/budget
  • Suppliers
    • Search for and vet qualified vendors
    • Or, draft and submit a tender
  • Contractors
  • Train staff on new technologies/processes