- Imagine a disgruntled employee resets his company’s network servers to factory settings causing major downtime and disabling services for around 30 days.
- What about a router misconfiguration during routine network maintenance that results in a massive outage in a service provider network?
- Or how about a misconfiguration of a firewall in a medical office exposing sensitive medical information of thousands of patients?
What’s common across these disasters? A human error and a failed compliance check process – due to either a lack of well-defined network compliance policies or missing real-time notification and automated remediation on policy violations.
If you think compliance is hard, try non-compliance
According to a recent research report, the cost of non-compliance has increased by 45% since 2011 and could equate to nearly $40million. But it’s not just the financials that you should be worried about, non-compliance could lead to customer churn, decreased brand equity, increased data vulnerability, and worse legal proceedings.
Many companies have detailed data and network compliance policies, but is that enough? Even with a well-defined process, services and devices often become non-compliant for a variety of reasons. An improper change in a router or firewall can trigger a non-compliant network policy and could result in unauthorized access to sensitive data. A change in ACL or opening of ports in a firewall to accommodate a new application is non-compliant to application onboarding policy and enables invisible backdoor access to your network. Non-compliance to security policies by failing to upgrade your software or firmware to latest release versions will create a security gap and increase the likelihood of massive data thefts.
Even if your network is compliant today, the creation of new laws and the evolution of existing policies, multiple engineers operating on same devices and overwriting each other’s changes, and time-crunched administrators who take shortcuts to meet the deadline makes your network non-compliant quickly.
Automation: Key to perfectly compliant network
The real problem lies not in policy definition but rather in policy enforcement. Recent research also points to an alarming 97% of network failures caused by human errors.
Thus, the key to having a compliant network is to embrace automation and significantly reduce manual processes. A completely automated network configuration and change management solution provides the following benefits:
- Automated rejection of changes made in violation of compliance policies;
- Delivery of network consistency by initiating the same changes across all multivendor devices;
- More uniform business continuity and mitigated network downtime by automatically detecting and remediating non-compliant configurations and;
- Avoiding potentially dangerous configuration changes by highlighting configuration differences before they are implemented.
Compliance is like flossing, everyone knows it’s the right thing to do but no one has the time or discipline to do it consistently.
Choosing the right automation tool
Automating through scripts may provide some relief but they still present many of the same problems as a completely manually managed network. Scripts do not scale across teams and need frequent updating with changes in infrastructure, software or new regulations. True automation is more than mere scripting. An automation tool that provides a comprehensive end-to-end configuration and compliance management solution offers tangible business benefits and will have a positive impact on security and availability. Some essential features include:
- An easy to use interface to create compliance policies and rules;
- Automatic notifications and remediation for non-compliant rules;
- Network validation and assurance;
- Detailed Compliance reporting;
- Support for a wide range of vendors and domains
Investing in a good automation tool to manage configuration and compliance is vital for all organizations. It will help achieve network goals faster, increase business benefits, mitigate threats, and enhance security. A good automation tool also ensures consistency, eliminates manual tasks and safeguards business from intentional or accidental unauthorized changes to your network.