Series 1 – Best Cyber Security Practices for Small Business – Part 3

Series 1 – Best Cyber Security Practices for Small Business – Part 3

The next topic that I want to delve into, in our Best Practices for small business series, is the maintenance and monitoring of your network.  What do you, as the owner or manager of a small business need to know about taking care of your digital network?  How can you determine the health and lifespan of servers, firewalls, and switches (oh, my)? 

What is an RMM?

Remote Monitor Manager (RMM) is the tool that an MSP (Managed Service Provider) uses to monitor the components on a business network.  We install an agent in all of the PCs/workstations, laptops, and servers that are on a client’s domain. That agent then runs scripts round the clock that query all the devices about every aspect that can be reported on – then the agents feed the information back to a central management console.  In our case, we use Automate LabTech agents and Automate ticketing to tell us:

If a system has all its updates installed

If there is a malware infection

Whether the Anti-virus agent has checked in

When a system is running low on disk space

What event logs need to be reviewed

In fact, the RMM can report on virtually every part of a computer system

When an RMM is configured, it can send email notifications (about critical issues like ‘server off-line’) run scripts to make repairs, and create tickets for technicians to follow up.

So, why is that important for small business managers?  Quite simply, many small businesses do not have the personnel to watch over the network all the time.  Without monitoring, you are very likely not going to be aware of a failing disk, missing patches, malware infection, or anti-virus status until it is too late.  Think of it like a doctor checking vital statistics – you are always in a better position if there is pro-active monitoring, rather than reactive panicking.

Another reason is the value of monitoring.  As a recurring cost, monitoring your network will probably range from $5 – $15/device per month.  It’s far less costly to monitor than most people think, but the value of having an MSP pro-actively reporting on your network is immense.  Instead of walking in on a Monday morning to find that your server ran out of space and you’ve lost your customer database, an MSP will have been notified and could have remotely added resources, or moved archived files to another location.  Moreover, without a doubt the cost is less than hiring IT staff full or even part-time.

A good RMM will also be able to monitor your infrastructure devices like routers and switches. Although these do not report the same level of detail as servers and workstations, the basics will be covered.  So, if your ISP modem goes down, or your firewall is offline, alerts will let you and your MSP know about it.  Then immediate action can be taken, and you won’t be in the dark about why your Sales team can’t reach the Internet!

Lastly, ongoing monitoring allows a contracted MSP to know the history of your network.  This is HUGE when you do need support.  I can pull up a record of the tickets that Acme’s Domain Controller has and look for patterns that help an on-site engineer to diagnose a problem much more quickly than if he or she had to start at the break/fix stage.  Also pro-actively, those patterns can indicate when upgrades or replacements are required, AND if your network is protected or vulnerable to attack [1].

So, if you have been putting off getting a quote for MSP monitoring, now is the time to start shopping around.  Having monitoring will take a load of anxiety off your shoulder, free up time for your staff to do what they do best, and it won’t wipe out your budget. 

[1] F. Richards-Gustafson, “Chron,” [Online]. Available: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/network-management-systems-small-businesses-14147.html. [Accessed 2020].

Tune in next time for information about Backups and Recovery!  As always, we would love to hear from you, so leave a comment!

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