It’s a tough act to follow, after all, network admins have the unenviable job of keeping servers running, users to make happy, bosses to satisfy, budgets to meet. If I can just keep the henhouse running smooth, playing good cop, the good bits flowing where they ought to go – that’s my happy place. All in all, if I get home without any major disasters, it’s beer-thirty and time to chillax.
Then comes good ‘ol Microsoft patches, firewall rules to review, new servers to install, antivirus to keep updated, user password resets, adding that new employee, and just when you least expect it… the inevitable account lockout. The devil is in the details, and it’s a pain to keep tabs on all the logs a network will generate. If that wasn’t bad enough, the big bad hacker fox is at your door – incessantly knocking and looking for any avenue in! Spam, port scans, vulnerabilities, RDP logins attempts, spyware, ransomware… the list goes on and on. Enough to make me reach for a cold one just a little sooner!
If you are like me, you’ll patch the servers at night so the users don’t yell, reset the passwords when they call, audit the AV if you get the chance, and by the time midnight rolls around, the firewall review will just have to wait. Oh, that new employee starts tomorrow, so let’s add that new user and email the password. There’s no time to update the network IP map, or review the security policy, or even logout and lock my door before I’m toast. (Anyone ever slept under your desk because it’s more efficient than driving home?)
Documentation? Non-existent. Reporting? Maybe on a ticketing system, closed as quickly as I can so my stats look good. If I don’t get around to auditing the AV scan, it will wait another day. After all, I’ll be back online in the morning, fighting the good fight. No big deal – a day in the life of a busy network admin.
In fact, I’ll even fix a security issue that I knew about for a while, and not tell anyone about it. After all, it’s fixed, so who’s complaining? All in a day’s work, right?
The problem here is that those two roles are diametrically opposed. One (the network admin) keeps the good bits flowing and the other (security admin) prevents the bad bits from flowing. What’s one guy to do?
However, in a time-crunched SMB world, network admin will ALWAYS trump security admin. Security is generally an after-thought, aligned after everything is working. Users (and my boss) always like when the stuff works. They don’t like it when it doesn’t – especially if they can’t get to what they want when they want.
Larger businesses can afford a CSO – Chief Security Officer. They write and enforce Security Policies, review AV scans, look for account lockouts, running audits, making sure the place is tidy and safe. They don’t have to worry about installing servers, running the helpdesk, fixing Office installs. Smaller companies are lucky to have a ‘real’ network admin performing both duties, often in the same ticket.
Our network and security solution? Offload the network admin role to one group and offload the security admin role to another. That is, make sure the network admin is NOT the security admin. In a properly run MSP (like EstesCloud), those roles are satisfied by different professionals – let them argue bits, rules, policy, etc. while you do what you do best – running a business!
And when those auditors come around, grab that compliance report and a cold one – it’s the big “easy” button.
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Director, Technical Services
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