Operations and Security Pitfalls


Operations of technology from an outsiders perspective seems quite mundane. I once heard someone refer to it as the “feeding and watering of the servers.” Like a rancher that just checks on the cattle, right! I think that might be painting an easy picture. Where in real life there are a lot of issues to wrestle with for operations engineers.

Security is another challenging position. In a small company the operations, people have security responsibilities too. In larger firms, the security is a specialization all to itself. If you watch the news for a week I bet you see at least one security hacking story. Big companies get mentioned in the headlines as hackers can find a big catch. Small firms get hit with security issues as well.

Licensing

Software licensing is confusing even for the people who try to enforce it. Working with technicians and administrators they have a difficult time keeping the rules straight. Major companies like Microsoft and Oracle change the policies from time to time. Also, the products are changing too. The cloud makes things different. So now Microsoft has Outlook 360 to push things to the cloud. The hope is that this makes things easier but, we can never be sure.

Supported?

You pay a lot for licensing in hopes that you can get support if you need it. That sounds great in theory. Although, once you begin to use the software you will invariably run into a gray area. In using numerous paid for packages I have been told essentially, “that is not supported.” So they slap your hand. Even better you might find what you think is a bug and would like it to be fixed. Then you submit this and they tell you, “the software is working as expected.” This is where I could go on an open source rant but, I won’t.

Policy?

Organizations like to put policies in place as they grow. Early in my career, I worked in an organization that was small and scrappy. There was hardly any procedures to follow we just did what needed to be done. We got a lot of new business and the company grew. As we grew things changed. We added all sorts of rules. I remember being a developer needing extra memory for my development tools. This didn’t comply with the desktop policy. I had to get special approval make this happen.

Approvals

Policies can slow down things. Another item that seems to thwart work processes review boards. Many companies have a few mishaps and then institute a process review board. This is a weekly meeting of people in different departments. They review any upcoming changes and alert parties of new items. The idea is good, but typically better communication would also do the same thing.

Insiders

Security experts know one of the biggest threats are insiders. People who work with you may compromise sensitive information. It can be people who have malicious intent or those who are ignorant of the data they have access to. You may have the next Snowden working in your organization. Regardless you need to have the proper measures in place.

Cyber attacks

As state-sponsored cyber attacks continue with great occurrence organizations can get caught in the fray. We need to have our systems patched and ready for these attacks. It is critical that organizations keep their eyes on advancing standards in protection. The US government is working on establishing standards to thwart these attacks. We can’t ignore the possibilities that are coming.

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