Insync Tech Talk , Security , Tech Expert , | 2021/04/15 at 3:57pm

Your IT infrastructure is the backbone of your business – make sure you secure it

In our recent article, Your devices are an entry point for hackers, it’s time to pull up the metaphorical drawbridgewe focused on the security measures you can take to protect your business via good device management. But what about your IT infrastructure itself? How do you secure the nervous system of your organisation? When research indicates only 5% of organisations’ data are properly protected, there are important questions to ask.  

 

What do we mean by IT infrastructure? 

The IT infrastructure of an organisation comprises of all server and network components. In short, your infrastructure is a collection of building blocks that make up the apps and solutions staff use to deliver services. Before public and private cloud, IT infrastructure was somewhat simpler as it was generally centralised within an on-premises environment and protected with various network security elements. It was relatively straightforward to keep the bad guys out. It was a reasonably simple gatekeeper system that controlled access in and out.   

Now, in the era of Cloud, the building blocks that make up your IT infrastructure are not neatly housed in one place, meaning the traditional methods of security cannot be applied in the same way. But a lot of the thinking around security is still the same, essentially that you want to create a boundary around your assets. 

“You can’t apply old, traditional thinking when your IT infrastructure extends beyond the corporate network. You have people accessing information from anywhere and using any device, all creating connection points to the corporate network but from areas of reduced control. We need to use the same security principles but apply them differently,” says Russell Kowald, Principal Consultant, Insync Technology. 

 

How do you protect your infrastructure properly? 

According to Russell there are five key considerations to address when securing your IT infrastructure. 

      1. Ongoing patchingPatching takes time and effort but it is crucial to staying secure. A core task for an IT team is to ensure all organisation IT is patched and up to date. 

“Patching is the bread and butter of IT security, but it is crucial now more than ever in light of situations like the zero-day vulnerability exploits we have seen recently with Microsoft Exchange. Ensuring you are protected by patching known exploits is really a no-brainer,” notes Russell.  

      2. Supportability & capabilityWhere IT was once hardware driven, a lot of infrastructure services now come from software and code. To protect this, you need to ensure that you are looking after and managing access to various cloud platforms and other line of business applications that may or may not reside within your organisation. 

      3. Finding a balanceThere are a lot of security bells and whistles within Microsoft 365, and it can be tempting to light them all up, however Russell’s advice is to take the time to find the right balance.

“You need to make sure you are appropriately secure but also still able to operate and execute core tasks. Some default settings might be right for you whilst others will need some rejigging to ensure they fulfil their intended purpose,” says Russell. 

      4. HardeningMuch like patching, hardening infrastructure is an ongoing process that has to be done to reduce or eliminate security threats.

“There are some good resources available to understand best practice when it comes to hardening. With the use of public cloud, we have unparalleled visibility into our cloud assets and infrastructure, meaning it is easier to harder than an on-premises infrastructure. In addition, the Australian Signals Directorate’s Information Security Manual provides a good framework and guidelines to follow in this respect.” advises Russell.  

      5. MonitoringUnderstanding what is happening within your infrastructure is crucial to protecting it. By monitoring it regularly and running checks, you can prevent hackers who might achieve a foothold via a less privileged user from building up their privileges and posing serious threat to your organisation.   

“Monitoring is not as simple as it sounds. You need to look at what and how everything is integrated and what talks to what within your infrastructure. To identify warning signs, you need to monitor how something is, or could be, compromised and what the knock-on effect is. Azure Sentinel is a good tool for monitoring as it provides holistic views and log analytics from your infrastructure wherever it lives,” says Russell.  

These five considerations can help guide you but, to be successful, Russell’s recommendation is to try to shift your mindset.  

“When it comes to infrastructure, it doesn’t work to have a fixed checklist of what to look for, you need to be more open-minded. A lot of security comes from thinking about the ‘what ifs’. For example, what if there is an outage, what will the security impacts be and what will the knock-on effects on the broader business be?” adds Russell.  

 

The benefits of Cloud security  

Whilst the process of securing a Cloud based infrastructure might be more challenging than its on-premises predecessor, it is worthwhile doing in order to reap the benefits.  

Deploying cloud-based solutions generally have built in security that requires you to do very little. You can reduce your need to patch with a cloud-based solution that automatically updates and has a short cadence for updates. Moving workloads to the cloud will level up your security, as long as you know what to check and where to look. Another advantage of using cloud-based security like what is in Microsoft 365 – is the ability to use immense scale and datapoints to make decisions – something that is unrealistic and undoable with on-premises infrastructure,” says Russell.  

“Ultimately, infrastructure security is one piece of a larger puzzle. On its own, infrastructure security isn’t enough. You need to think about how it links to device management and identity and environment management. If youinfrastructure is exposed, really it highlights a need to look at all four components,” concludes Russell.  

To ensure you are protected on every front, find out how Insync can help level up your security and protect your IT investment. Contact the team today.