It’s the responsibility of network administrator to keep the organizations IT infrastructure safe from the ever-evolving threat of cyber-crime. It is a big responsibility which is coupled with the maintenance of the network and making sure that disaster recovery processes are also in place to ensure minimal down time. Administrators need to implement end-to-end controls to protect the network form security breaches, malware, data loss and unauthorized access.
Here are 10 tips for network administrators to do, or conversely, not do in order to be effective in their role.
- “Networks are a combination of multiple third-party equipment and applications, so as network administrators make changes, those components policies may be impacted as well” Kyle Gingrich, vice president of IT & Certifications at Skillsoft. To address the internal and external changes for monitoring and managing the network, IT policies are vital documents that need to be revisited regularly. Therefore, Update Policies regularly.
- Memo to all network administrators, you are the pinnacle of technological advancement in your organization, technology makes life easier, therefore find ways to automate processes to make your life easier. Seriously, there is a set process that need to happen regularly in any IT network, automating these processes will make your life easier and prevent you from being stuck in dull and mundane routine procedures, that will eventually be done with less efficiency if not automated. Therefore; Stop doing everything manually.
- Have you ever had to troubleshoot a problem and have it take you forever to figure out the problem, not knowing that the problem was caused by a configuration change done a day or 2 or even, week earlier. Change control is an important part of your IT control room, you need to drill it into every single person who is a part of IT department. Log any and every change that you do on the network. This will save time and eliminate frustration when troubleshooting, you can just go to the change log and see if there have been any changes that might be causing the problem that you are having.
- “Sometimes network administrators get too caught up in putting out immediate threats and cyber concerns that they don’t check the overall effectiveness of the entire security system.” Lindsey Havens, senior marketing manager at PhishLabs.” Do not get over confident over the security of your network. No network is impenetrable, the job of network administrators is to have an end-to-end view of the entire system and be able to see security gaps before they become a problem.
- Network administrators can be so used to putting out fires that they implement short term solutions, that fix the problem without having a long-term view of where the company or organization is going. The introduction of new technologies and systems into the organization could cause further head-aches in the future. It is therefore imperative that IT Managers be part of the decision-making process at the highest levels so that they can have a long-term view in solution implementations to current network problems.
- “Network administrators who become complacent in their jobs without exploring current ideas, methodologies, or technologies, run the risk of limiting their career opportunities in the future.” – Peter Tsai senior analyst at Spiceworks. IT is ever evolving with new technologies being introduced constantly, the failure of any network administrator to keep their skills up to date is not only a risk to their careers but also puts the security of the systems they administer at risk.
- Justin Ryburn, technical marketing manager at Kentik advises network administrators to stop using command-line interface to troubleshoot their networking, instead they should build tools that leverage internal and external API’s and databases to provide them with the performance alerts and information they need.
- Block every single port and protocol that is outbound to the internet unless the organization needs these ports opened for a specific function. Typically port 80 and port 443 are the standard ports that need to be opened for internet access, all others should be blocked and opened on a IT needs basis.
- “While scripting can significantly ease the burden of network administration, it must be done within the framework, as opposed to applying a hodgepodge, or trying constantly bridge legacy code gaps” – Courtney Thompson, CIO of Green house Data. Therefore, avoid using scripting to hack at automating networking. Courtney added that “applying s DevOps model to networking helps realize the DevNetOps benefits which support continues integration and continues deployment.”
- As networks grow it becomes an ever-increasing challenge to monitor it effectively, with different network admins becoming siloed with little cross-discipline monitoring. The introduction of the cloud has also made it more difficult to pinpoint the root causes of performance issues. This leads to poor monitoring discipline in an organization. “For network administrators to be most effective at their job, they need to expand current skillsets to effectively monitor hardware, networks. Applications, virtualization, configurations, cloud and even containerized workloads.” – Patrick Hubbard, head geek at Solarwinds. With network administrators expanding their skillset poor monitoring disciplines go out the windows as he or she can then monitor multiple facets of the organizations network.
So, just to recap; the job of the network administrator is a multi-faceted one which requires a variety of skills to be able to have an end-to-end monitoring approach to an organizations network. The administrator not only needs to be tech savvy but business minded as well in-order to have a long-term approach to solutions implementation.