What is Proactive Management?
Proactive Management (PM) is a way for businesses to outsource the ongoing administration of device security, monthly deployment of Windows and select third party application patches. PM can cover laptops, desktops, and servers.
PM offers businesses layers of protection that keep servers and devices secure. In 2019, there were over 7.9 billion records exposed from data breaches. 2019 saw an increase over 2018, and 2018 over 2017. 2020 will be no different. Businesses, universities, and even governments are being targeted by attacks. PM adds layers of cybersecurity to organizations’ systems and networks, helping to close attack vectors that could leave them vulnerable to attack.
How does Proactive Management protect a business?
PM offers multiple layers of cybersecurity coverage that protect your business from a variety of attacks.
Here is what an organization should have in place:
- Anti-Malware – detecting and blocking malware threats before they have a chance to inflict damage to devices. AV Defender makes a distinction between an “infected file” and a “suspected file” based on the confidence that it has detected a security threat.
- Behavioral Analysis – examining the behavior of a file and determining if the file may be a threat.
- Network traffic scans – providing data protection for email and user web browsing in real time, and scanning various types of network traffic for potential security threats.
- Content Control – providing a way to restrict what users can access and send over the Internet.
- Anti-Phishing – preventing external attempts to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers or account information from a bank for malicious reasons.
- Firewall – controlling access to network resources, network services, and to the Internet by specified applications.
- Disk Encryption – protecting the contents of computer hard disks, especially laptops, from being compromised in the event a device is lost or stolen.
- Document Backup – versioned, encrypted archive of user’s important data files to safeguard against loss from corruption, a successful ransomware attack or the device being lost or stolen.
How it works
As noted above, PM covers laptops, desktops, and servers sending out patches and keeping them secure with anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewalls, but how does it actually do those things?
PM works by deploying probe software to select devices in an organization’s environment. It is important that the collection of probes deployed will be able to “scan” the entirety of the network to prevent gaps in protection.
On a scheduled basis, the probes poll all of the devices attached to the network and report back to the Central Management Server with a collection of statistics. Devices discovered on the network are then categorized into laptops / desktops, servers and “other”. Only the laptops / desktops and servers are targeted for automated installation of the administration agent and anti-virus software.
The Central Management Server then takes over the role of telling the devices, through the administration agent, when to run anti-virus scans, update definitions, deploy application patches and reboot.
Once the network has been mapped, the other services, like the layers of cybersecurity, then cover all of the devices to keep the organization safe and secure. It also backs up end-user documents and stores the data within an encrypted vault for any necessary retrieval.
Why businesses need Proactive Management
All of this might sound good, but do businesses need PM? Don’t patches already come out for Windows and other applications? What if an organization already has anti-virus and anti-malware?
Let’s start with patching.
Windows patches and other applications do put out patches regularly and users receive the notifications that they need to install and restart. How many users do this right away? How many users do this within a week?
How many users put this off indefinitely because they want to be “reminded later?” PM’s scheduled patching keeps all machines compliant and up-to-date, so that users do not have to worry about it and organizations don’t need to worry about any user leaving security gaps from not having the latest security patches.
Anti-virus and anti-malware are only part of a cybersecurity solution. Windows comes with a firewall, but some threats are still successful.
Adding layers like network traffic scans, behavioural analysis, anti-phishing, disk encryption and document backup complement those other pieces to create a more secure organization. Each one of these pieces protects your organization from a different attack vectors.
Outsourcing PM has benefits outside of the two above examples. Organizations who outsource have their PM solutions managed remotely, meaning they save on headcount and infrastructure costs. Members of the IT department also have more time to focus on strategic projects and growth, rather than maintenance/patching. More returns for the business.
As outlined in the paragraph above, the device discovery and data collection happens automatically. The solution scales according to the needs of the organization as devices and servers are added and removed from the network. PM also eases vendor communication since all of these services come from one source.
Should this type of management be a priority?
To answer this question, there are some other questions that need to be answered first. Is the organization prepared in the event of a disaster? How much downtime can an organization afford if a breach occurs? What happens if a car is broken into and a work device is stolen? How secure is the data backup currently?
Secure backup is another layer of PM protection. Natural disasters destroy offices and equipment. Theft or loss leaves critical information vulnerable. These real threats to organizations and their data can be prevented. Taking proactive steps now, like backing up data in offsite secure vaults, increases the likelihood that an organization can get back up and running quickly.
The backup data is stored within an encrypted vault managed by the provider offsite, so if any system becomes compromised, the data can be recovered without losing any valuable information it may contain.
Most organizations and IT managers keep a vigilant watch for threats. Digital attacks and infiltration attempts happen each day. Proactive Management provides layered coverage that secures vital systems. PM does not cover all aspects of a business, however. Unsuspecting and untrained users are the most frequent entry point into organizations’ systems. Learn more about User Awareness Programs and how they can round out cybersecurity solutions.