All posts by SystemsNet Administrator

What to Incorporate in Your IT Management Reports Each Month

Business man pointing to a graph on the IT management reports on a clipboard

Our customers have access to monthly executive reports and can review ticketing reports real time when needed

An emerging shift in the IT industry is apparent with the ever-rising number of initiatives that introduce new digital technologies. It has transformed the role of a CIO, which was formerly about operating back-end technology to ensure machines ran at peak performance. A CIO is now expected to be leading the change behind IT business strategies, by directing their attention to cost-effective measures for delivering software solutions.

This means CIOs and other IT co-developers are participating more in responsibilities delegated to management boards. IT departments are gaining traction as value generators for the organization by preventing server shutdowns, power outages, HR databases, SaaS applications, and other technical difficulties a company will face at some point. IT monitors all the shared cloud drives that support devices from laptops to smartphones.

Why IT Leaders are Struggling During Performance Reports about Invested Technology

But when it comes to reporting, many IT leaders had trouble explaining their team’s contributions to the CEO and board of executives. The problem stems from a pervasive mindset that IT budgets should be restricted to only maintaining company infrastructure rather than investing in upgrades for speeding up internal communication networks. IT leaders must prove their worth by addressing why IT is one of the main components of executing a successful business model.

Here are the main criterion used in IT reporting as per business impact:

1. The frequency of power outages in a period-These could compromise security measures, enterprise programs, or CRM systems. IT must fix them before a loss in revenue occurs.

2. Percentage of incidents resolved by an in-house IT team-This includes quantified data about technical issues and their potential costs. Speed and accuracy are the main benchmarks.

3. The integrity of IT transactions-An organization relies on platforms that manage multiple applications, namely HR, order-entry, and ERP systems, making sure transactions run smoothly on any device.

4. The number of permanently fixed problems-The IT staff is assigned damage control whenever an organization encounters recurring incidents. Long-lasting, automated solutions will raise its workforce productivity.

5. A follow-up change management summary-After documenting changed processes, IT leaders must submit a detailed overview of their impact analysis and write up a rollout plan in response.

6. Service levels and their availability-IT leaders will also keep tabs on their help desk services. They’re expected to record service level achievements while regularly updating all of their operating systems in favor of business objectives.

Outlining a Template Suitable for IT Monthly Management Reports

An IT management report informs organizations about recent trends in cloud computing, internet of things, and big data analytics. In addition, this report provides them with oversight into different areas of operation, and through proper guidelines, the key points, elements, or features essential to IT functions. After all, you need to know the objective of a workplace investigation before you can begin.

Furthermore, be specific with the terms used in the IT report so that people who review it can understand what kind of open database standards were applied. Every piece of information should be credible and updated on systems with administrative access. Only appoint people with the right skills and expertise to create an IT management report. Another suggestion is to present visual infographics and factual statistics or figures in an easy-to-read format.

IT Management Reporting-A Monthly Inspection of Company Databases

Being prepared with all the equipment and resources is vital in order to present a credible report. Moreover, you’re required to install automated feedback generating IT systems which prioritize research and troubleshooting activities. You may have to deal with elements like hardware for assessment functions and develop a corrective action report based on the measures taken to meet business expectations.

An IT management report must generate value by supplying data management could rely on for better decision-making. If changes must be implemented in IT, then management must check that they are contributing to the company instead of piling on excess expenditures. Always be well-organized when putting together the contents to elicit meaningful discussions about the company’s IT infrastructure.

Contact us at SystemsNet to browse our managed IT services including remote repairs. We will monitor your existing hardware and write up a monthly report on your network capabilities.

The Secret Capabilities of Managed Network Monitoring – Pt 2

Speedcurve Performance Analytics Network Monitoring

Monitoring provides so much detail that it truly is the first step in network security

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on managed network monitoring. Last time, we talked about how network monitoring is one of the best-kept secrets in the cybersecurity along with how it can detect unauthorized access to your network and authorized connection with stolen login credentials. Join us again today as we pick up where we left off.

Signs of Employee Misconduct or Insider Espionage

Interestingly, network monitoring can use the same methods to catch the rare instance of an insider hacking job. This happens more frequently than you might think, but is more often disgruntled data vandalism or simple misconduct than organized movie-worthy corporate espionage. The trouble is that when the job is done from the inside, there is an authorized login with all the protections of a normal employee as the cause of a potential security breach.

However, to do anything shady, most disloyal employees will have to use their accounts to do their dirty work. The thing is, the normal behaviors for a job can also be recorded like a pattern. You don’t have to tightly watch an employee’s account (something that might run afoul of regulations) in order to flag when an account might be up to something.

Simply flag when an employee account accesses a file it has never or rarely accessed before. Or initiates a download in a restricted folder. You can even watch for the use of Print Screen when sensitive data is open on a computer. All without actually directly tracking a single account’s activity. Just the network itself.

Flagging Compromised Business Software

Recently, hackers have been getting better at finding and exploiting loopholes inside the software businesses are already using. This is done sometimes to slip through firewalls and anti-virus software. But it can also be used to turn your data-accessing programs against you. Your CRM program, for example, has firewall permission to access your database of sensitive client information.

It is then possible that a hacker could build a very sneaky piece of malware that was specially designed to slip onto your server and write a new routine that uses the CRM’s permissions to access and steal client information. You may, by now, see where we’re going here.

Network monitoring can be designed to recognize the exact way that your business software usually accesses protected data. With all the right authorization handshakes and keys swapped back and forth for security. So if a new routine in the same software initiates that skips the authorization handshakes but would have slipped past your CRM’s defenses, Network monitoring will raise the alarm.

In fact, that’s also why it’s great for patching detected vulnerabilities if a source patch is not available.

Detecting Hidden Malware

Finally, network monitoring does something that can save you from the fear of malware and ransomware lurking in your network. It can detect the illicit use of computer resources. You see, when a malware program slips onto your network through, say, a phishing email, it has to use a few computer resources. Even a very sneaky piece of malware needs little scraps of RAM and CPU to get anything done.

To watch your files, to wait for a network signal from its hacker, or to spread through your network in stealth-mode, it will need to use resources. And network monitoring can see that. Network monitoring can look at exactly what your computer is doing, behind the OS and all the things malware can use to hide itself from humans. And if there is a program running that wasn’t there before, if resources are being used in a pattern-defying way, or if one endpoint in a dozen supposedly-identical computers is using more resources, this is a sign of a hidden and lurking malware program.

Network monitoring is also effective at catching malware when it tries to engage in any network activity at all. If it tries to send collected data back to its hacker or to get a signal from the hacker, then network monitoring may spot activity leading to an unknown and unidentified program.

And if it tries to spread itself out onto your other devices throughout the business network, then network monitoring can notice an unusual and suspicious pattern of downloads and installations and trigger an alert state.

These are still only a few of the practical applications for network monitoring, and focuses only on cybersecurity. As you may be starting to see, network monitoring is one of the best-kept secrets in all of IT. It slices, it dices, and it can show you patterns — and breaks in patterns — for almost every detail of your business’s technical existence. And it the ideal way to catch a hacker at every single point of their attack. For more managed network insights or to set up managed network monitoring for your business, contact us today!

The Secret Capabilities of Managed Network Monitoring – Pt 1

IT Engineer Using Laptopf for Network Monitoring and Analysis of Network Servers in Server Room

Network Monitoring is your first line of defense in securing the network

In the ongoing battle to maintain business information security, the tools we use are our most important defenses. Firewalls, anti-virus, encryption. But the best tool we have to defend against hackers is something you may have barely even heard of, Network Monitoring.

Network Monitoring is Cybersecurity’s Secret Weapon

Network monitoring, summarized, is keeping track of every single detail of your physical computers and devices, digital files and servers, and your internal network activity. But the reason it’s so obscure is that explaining network monitoring is incredibly technical. It triggers most people’s ‘Techno-Babel’ filters. Network monitoring is cybersecurity’s secret weapon is because it gathers -all- the data.

Network monitoring allows you to build a fortress with data. Not the precious personal and financial data the hackers want to steal. Just cold hard facts about your computers. You can zoom in as tight as the motherboard temperature or as wide as watching data flow through your network. And network monitoring can create a record of data over time, no matter what you are tracking, which allows patterns to be spotted and, therefore, deviations from normal patterns to raise alarms.

But to put it simply, it’s like placing security cameras on the data itself. Right inside the server, looking at the files you’re protecting and the network hackers are -required- to come through to access your internally stored data. Now let’s take a look at some of the highly useful practical applications for network-monitored defenses.

Unauthorized Network or Data Access

The problem with hackers is that they access your data without permission, or slip onto your internal network and start infecting endpoint devices. But to do this, they need a way in. They will need to, at some point, access your network through a stolen or unauthorized channel. Or they will try to access your data with a malware program instead of using the secured software access built for employees. In fact, hackers like to break the rules. They enjoy slipping around your normal protocols to steal your data or ruin your network.

But here’s the thing: Your ‘normal protocols’ create a certain pattern of data. Like watching waves on a shore, network monitoring set to watch specific files or network access knows what an authorized employee access looks like. And if anything else happens to those files or enters your network without following known employee protocols, network monitoring can trigger its hacker alarm and start messaging admins.

Signs of Stolen Login Credentials

You might be thinking “What if a hacker steals an employee’s password”. Stolen credentials are a very serious concern in business security because there are so few real solutions to the problem. Employees need to be able to log in from anywhere and to use their logins to do their normal work tasks. But what you can do is set up network monitoring to alert for suspicious authorized login behavior.

When an employee logs in from a mobile device or home computer, it is possible to record the IP address and get the general location of the login. There is also usually a date, timestamp, and sometimes the name of the device used. Your employees are going to have a normal set of devices and locations they log in from. Each login can then be pattern-matched to a certain set of devices and a geographical region that network monitoring can learn to recognize.

This means that network monitoring will also notice if that login is suddenly used on a new device in an unusual location, or suddenly in a new state or halfway across the world. Or at a time in which that login has never logged in before.

Checking in when patterns change is also the best and only way to consistently catch hackers who steal authorized logins. And if it’s something normal like a business trip or device upgrade, then no harm was done simply by touching base with the person who’s login was flagged.

Managed network monitoring is an incredibly powerful tool and these capabilities are only the beginning. Join us next time for the second half of this article where we’ll talk about misconduct, corporate espionage, compromised software, and detecting hidden malware programs. Contact us today for more information about network security, managed network service, or to set up managed network monitoring for your business needs.

See you next time!


What Should Your Employees Do Before Contacting the IT Help Desk?

Worried Man At Computer With System Failure Screen At The Workplace Before Contacting the IT Help Desk

Ever wonder what steps you could take before calling the helpdesk?

Your company’s employee-facing IT help desk was built so that team members can reach out for technical help whenever they need it. The IT support staff is there to help with networking errors, to make the company software work, and to make sure customers get the automated service they need through the company technology. They are there to make the computers and devices work correctly, to defend against active and passive hacker attacks, and to offer solutions to situations so complicated that your team hardly knows how to describe what’s gone wrong.

But there are also a few things that every computer-using professional can do before calling IT that can provide the solution so much faster than clocking and solving a ticket. IT help desk professionals are happy to help when their expertise is needed, but they often wind up reciting the basic troubleshooting steps instead of solving fun and challenging problems.

So today, we’re here to offer your team a few of those basic troubleshooting steps you can take before clocking a ticket. And if these techniques don’t produce a solution then, by all means, make that call or open that chat window to present your IT team with another interesting internal network challenge.

Reload the Software

Software glitches for a lot of different reasons. Full caches, computer resources, an over-logging error; these things can crash or slow down  your business software but they’re not necessarily things that IT can fix any easier than you can. What your IT help desk would say first is to reload the software. Hit refresh. Close the program and re-open it anew. Log out and back in again. And if that doesn’t solve the problem, feel free to get in touch with IT to see if there’s something else that can be done.

Reboot the Computer or Device

Is your entire computer moving slow, acting up, or glitching in a particularly annoying way? Again, there are too many reasons for hardware misbehavior to enumerate in a single paragraph or even a single dedicated whitepaper. But a lot of them can be solved with a simple reboot. Whether the issue was too much stacked software, background programs, or something that went wrong in the firmware that needs to be reset, rebooting pretty often provides the solution. But if the situation repeats itself within a few minutes of rebooting or seems to happen frequently, it’s time to reach out to your IT help desk for more in-depth answers.

Try Toggling the Relevant Settings

Check the settings. Whatever you’re having trouble with, check the user-accessible settings. Don’t worry about delving deep, but whatever settings you can reach, try toggling them back and forth to see if you can get a different or improved response. It might be that your software isn’t quite configured correctly or you just need to trigger another type of reset. Switch your Wifi off and back on again, switch sharing off and on, or switch your monitor from extended to duplicated to extended again. Yes, it really does work sometimes. Surprisingly often.

Check the Easily-Available Troubleshooting Guides

If your IT team has gone through the trouble of writing up troubleshooting guides for common problems, do them the favor of at least skimming the IT help section available to you. These guides are often written specifically because dozens to hundreds of tickets for the exact same problem have been submitted and IT has deemed that the troubleshooting process is easy enough for a non-IT professional to tackle on their own.

If you can’t find a guide or if your company doesn’t have internal IT help guides, then of course reach out to your IT team for personalized guidance instead.

Ask the IT Chatbot

Finally, if your IT help desk has cleverly set up a chatbot to answer frequently asked troubleshooting questions, take a moment to engage. Chatbots are getting pretty darn smart (and programmable) these days so if there’s an IT bot available, it might just have the answers. It’s not only worth your while to take this semi-automated DIY troubleshooting guide, it’s also an awesome story to tell to colleagues and friends that you got IT help from an actual virtual intelligence.

If and when all else fails, be sure to clock your troubles as a ticket and describe the steps you’ve already taken independently so your IT help desk team can jump right in to help you find the true cause and solution. For more interesting, useful, and actionable insights about IT help desks for your business, contact us today!