Pillars of Technology Protection – Part Two – Operational Stability

We’ve discussed what I’d call essential or minimal protections. Now let’s move on to operational stability.

Operational stability is, essentially, a collection of hardware and software and services , which work reliably day in and day out to support the operation of your business. This is admittedly a broad topic because, depending on what your business is and how much your technology is part of that business will determine how critical operational security is to you and to your customer.

First a word about updating equipment that ‘still works’. You know that printer that seems always to jam on multipage documents? How much of your time or staff time does it take to pay for a new one? Or what if you try to open a document and your old version of the program no longer opens the files created by the current version of the same program? What about the ‘value’ or likely ‘cost’ of frustration?

As an example of the type of thinking or analysis we’re discussing, consider us. At Kesem, we are a technology company. We have our internal servers and operations, like your business. We also have a hosting operation for web sites. We host dedicated servers for other companies as well. We host cloud services for our clients and ourselves too. So, the components, hardware, and elements required to achieve and maintain operational stability are necessarily complex. The good news is that in our experience, adequately delivering operational stability and typical of businesses is in general not so complex or costly.

The elements you have to consider are:

  • Who has access to your critical systems? (If you have a server, is it in a secure place or at least out of the ‘normal’ traffic flow in your office?)
  • Physical and environmental security:
  • Can anyone walk up to your server or network gear?
  • How’s the power in your office? Do lights flicker in the rain?
  • Are network cables on the floor where they might get run over with a chair?
  • Are wall jacks either loose or ‘sort of hanging down’ from the junction box?
  • What is the physical condition of equipment and its exposure to risks? (Is it shoved up against a heating duct or covered with piles of paper?)
  • What is the age of or version of:
    • Your equipment?
    • Software? Is it  (Example: Windows 10 or Windows XP? Office 2007 or Office 2013?)

Status of your protection services: antivirus, anti-malware, firewall, and email-security. (Are they up to date?)

These are some of the questions you should ask yourself about whether or not you need to achieve greater operational stability.

Often, many of these things can be remedied inexpensively or at no cost. For example, if your PC is buried under your desk, next to the heating duct and covered with papers, a little relocation and or cleanup can remedy the threat of overheating and unplanned shut down.

If your server is out in the open, just remove the keyboard and mouse. Plug them in when you need them, so at least no one will be tempted to use it as an ‘extra workstation.’ Better still, relocate it to a ventilated closet so it’s out of the way and not tempting for people to investigate.

Lastly, consider the age of your equipment with regard to the software you use or have to use. For example, if you have a printer that’s 10 years old and was installed in the heyday of Windows XP, and now almost all your units run Windows 10. It’s very likely the specific software designed to use all the features of that printer is not available for Windows 10 because of the age of the device. Manufacturers eventually stop updating software for older peripherals to work with newer operating systems. And the opposite might be true, too. That workhorse printer finally died and the best driver software to use that new printer runs in Windows 10, but not Windows 7. Or, the files you are receiving from clients now are in formats you can’t open! Try opening a MS Word docx file with Word 2003. Not happening.

We’re not suggesting updating and upgrading just for the sake of spending money. But you need to consider that upgrades or updates become necessary for reasons that have nothing to do with your ‘computer’ but are influenced and determined by external events. Address those needs or anticipate them, along with some common sense decisions about where to use equipment.

These activities and efforts  are the key to operational stability, and can make a day at the office much easier, thus freeing you to spend time to do the things only you can do.