The importance of network auditing
A commonly overlooked aspect of IT infrastructure, network auditing is of critical importance to businesses. It gives organisations the ability to identify any potential network problems, providing the opportunity to make fixes before downtime occurs or business performance is impacted.
Network auditing refers to a range of measures adopted to gather, study and analyse data about a network in order to ascertain its current health in relation to the organisation’s requirements. It provides insight as to the effectiveness of current network practices and control measures, especially the state of compliance with regulations and policies.
What are the types of network audit?
Network auditing can take many forms in a business. Below are some of the most common types:
Infrastructure – Network infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex as customer requirements grow and data volumes rapidly escalate. Performing regular audits will ensure that any bottlenecks can be identified and all assets are fully up to date. Infrastructure covers both hardware and software:
- HardwareThis includes checks of PCs, servers, mobile devices, routers, switches and wireless access points
- SoftwareIn modern networks, software usually comes in the form of applications and the operating systems that host them, plus any software-designed networking components, which could include firewalls
Security – Security is paramount, which means that businesses should perform any audits separately from those in the network. This could for example include network data security, network access control and physical security audits. Any BYOD policies should also be considered, as devices being brought into the network can pose a risk
Availability – This is critical to ensure that networks can always be accessed by those who need them to complete tasks and responsibilities. This could include bandwidth and its availability to different devices used by employees
Performance – Checking and optimising performance is vital to ensure customer satisfaction and add value to the business. This can for example be improved by closely managing the network traffic flow effectively
Control – Checking the level of control implementation is important to decipher both compliance with internal and external regulations, while giving control to admins and facilitate read-only access to other employees as applicable
Management – Management can include anything from how passwords and patches are managed and maintained, to the current level of compliance. Both managed devices, which belong to the organisation, and BYOD unmanaged devices must be recorded
How is a network audit performed?
Here are the key steps to completing a network audit effectively:
- Gain buy-in from stakeholders –Before any project is initiated, it’s critical to gain buy-in from stakeholders, including the management and technical teams. Post approval, technical employees then need to be involved throughout every stage due to their knowledge of the IT environment relating to the network
- Identify the tools – Gaining insight from colleagues is vital to ensure that the most appropriate networking tools are being used, as the solution used previously may not be the most suitable for an upcoming project
- Ensure device access – To proceed further, organisations need to ensure that they have access to all devices, and Telnet, SNMP or SSH may be needed to enable this. Any usernames and passwords should also be documented
- Consider where audit data will be saved – Simply storing data on a personal device will create security issues. Businesses will need to ensure that the device they use is secure and able to process large amounts of data
- Use a network discovery tool – Automated tools can create inventories of the network, plus diagrams and documents for insight. A seed device can initiate a crawl across all other devices, and IP addresses and subnet range can be configured
- Leverage the outcomes – Post-audit, production of a network audit report can present the information in a simple and consumable way, and recommendations can then be devised, such as discovery of an outdated software version or network services being underutilised
Why is a network audit needed?
There are a number of reasons why an organisation may need to complete an audit, including:
- Outdated inventories – In technology, a lot can change over a short space of time, such as increased network demands and structural changes in the organisation. It’s important to keep track of any of these to ensure optimum performance
- Upgrades – Organisations looking to grow will be eager to complete upgrades, particularly on the network. An audit can identify which hardware or software needs to be replaced/li>
- Resolution and troubleshooting – In the case of a business which is experiencing an ongoing issue with network outages, latency problems or connectivity to the internet, auditing can enable a troubleshoot of the network to identify the root cause/li>
- Regulations and compliance – Both organisations in the healthcare and finance sectors are required to meet a range of specific regulatory and compliance standards or otherwise face significant fines. This could include for example PCI and HIPAA. Audits can provide visibility of the current state of compliance
What to do after a network audit
Undertaking an audit is just one part of the process. Also vital is the need to interpret the data and identify any risks and opportunities for improvement. Businesses can do this in several different ways. One is by putting the new data side-by-side with historical audits to check for any changes. Automation tools also provide value by flagging any devices that don’t align with established network policies. For example, potentially vulnerable port numbers can be identified, or a device using a protocol that has been established as vulnerable. A final step is for analysis of the overall architecture to check for any weaknesses, and whether any alterations could improve the overall performance.
Our migration service, where inventory is moved into our facilities, includes an audit of the existing infrastructure to identify any bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. Our London Docklands data centre campus is conveniently located a short journey from Canary Wharf and Central London, giving our customers the perfect opportunity to access their equipment located in our data centres, perform hardware upgrades and audits when needed. Engineering services are available at the campus 24/7/365 including network monitoring and service desk assistance. Want to find out more? Contact us today to talk an expert https://www.telehouse.net/contact-telehouse/