How Systems and Network Monitoring Work in Software

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How Systems and Network Monitoring Work
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Setting up a network monitoring system is an involved process that will take some time to do correctly The procedure can be broken down into the following six steps: 1 Strategic design: Before any monitoring happens, someone needs to decide what to monitor and design a system to monitor it This is a complicated step (touched on in the introduction to this part), requiring a combination of both business and technical analysis 2 Implementation: At this step, monitoring tools are deployed and integrated with existing hardware and applications 3 Tuning: One of the first tasks is to tune the amount of information generated by the monitoring tools These systems can generate a lot of
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were not built for remote management Not convinced Go to London and ask to see the Great British Empire They keep its remains in a jar somewhere near Piccadilly, so we ve been told
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Part I Managing Security
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information, some of which is important, whereas the rest is just clutter 2 It s easy to monitor too many things or report too many minor problems Managing You may or may not want to know every time a hacker attacks your site, Security: but you certainly want to know if one has been successful Systems and 4 Monitoring: Once that s done, a lot of information still exists, and Network someone has to watch for problem indicators It also would be nice to see Monitoring if any trends are present Are hack attempts increasing, and is the increase bigger than the increase in general Internet hacking 5 Action: Finally, when a problem happens, somebody needs to be notified This might be trickier than it sounds Whoever gets notified needs to take action and solve the problem (or officially ignore it) 6 Analysis: At regular intervals, it s useful to dig a bit deeper into the monitored data Regular monitoring looks at the present, but proper analysis looks at past data as well Trend and pattern analysis of the complete data picture can help in anticipating future problems Usage and failure patterns might help pinpoint the root cause of an elusive problem It can also be useful to keep trend reports on issues that are otherwise too insignificant to watch For example, a significant increase in the frequency or volume of minor alerts could indicate that a major problem is about to happen Therefore, even though a system might be tuned to report only major problems, it still shouldn t completely ignore the minor ones
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It s difficult to enforce security policies Without a monitoring system, policy breaches and technology failures can go undetected, but a centralized monitoring system can help you ensure policy compliance and make a complex network manageable By analyzing the data from the monitoring system, you can figure out if your security policies and enforcement tools are effective The analysis also gives executive management the feedback necessary to adjust and revise their security philosophy and policies periodically Network monitoring systems do have a few caveats The first is compatibility If you re using standard equipment and running standard software,2 your monitoring problems should be minimal But if you have legacy equipment or custom software that you want monitored, things become much more difficult You will probably have to get consultants to add support for nonstandard devices
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2 Standard means universally accepted and supported These software and hardware standards include, but are not limited to, the following: Sun, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, HP, Intel
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22 Network Security Illustrated Another caveat is network design No central command system can fix a poorly designed network In fact, if the design is really bad, the system might not be able to properly operate Ironically, a central management system can actually weaken security Think about what happens if a hacker gets into your central management system He has immediate and total control of your network In some cases, he doesn t even need access to the central system; he just has to impersonate the system Although some network devices and servers have secure mechanisms for performing remote administration, others don t You might want to consider disallowing central administration machines on systems with weak overall security These applications will only display what they ve been designed to observe What if the central system is missing something critical or is not working correctly The bottom line is that security requires the involvement of skilled human beings at some level You ll need to have some specialists on staff that can tell when something s wrong, even when the system says that all is well Some of these systems make it all too easy to define and implement site-wide technical security policies Security-sensitized information technology (IT) staff can be tempted to create arbitrary technical policies that are not mandated by existing organizational policies This is the classic solution in search of a problem situation It happens because the applications only handle security as a technical process, not as a business or philosophical process Faults aside, without central command systems, it would be impossible to build and maintain large networks Just the monitoring alone is critical Imagine how difficult it would be if you had to manually check the status of hundreds or thousands of servers and desktops These tools also automate routines that otherwise take up massive amounts of time, such as deploying updated software Simplifying basic network management tasks means that less experienced employees can monitor the network effectively This can save your company money in IT staffing, which always makes management happy Having a bird s-eye view of your network is also a big advantage Many of these systems have visualization tools that can show you a 2-D or 3-D representation of your network and its status If a picture is worth a thousand words, these pictures are worth about a million pages of status reports
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