IT Infrastructure: What It Is and How to Protect It
Protect your network’s foundation.
When you buy a house, one of the most important things to look for is any structural flaws in the foundation. Cracking, settling, or upheaving foundations can lead to major problems for the rest of the house, and can even make the house uninhabitable.
Just like your home’s infrastructure should be monitored and safeguarded, so should your IT infrastructure. No matter how many bad passwords you’ve trashed or patches you’ve installed, none of it makes a difference if your IT infrastructure is unguarded, malfunctioning, or otherwise vulnerable.
In order to better protect your IT infrastructure, the first step is understanding what exactly that term entails.
What is IT infrastructure?
The term IT infrastructure refers to any physical or digital component comprising your office’s network. This includes hardware such as computers, servers, and routers, as well as software like computer applications and programs, internet connectivity, and your firewall.
In some cases, IT infrastructure can even refer to humans with access to any of these components, such as your business’s IT department, web developers, or web designers.
Simply put, any physical or digital component contributing to the operation of your network’s business systems or any IT-related processes is a part of your IT infrastructure.
How to protect your IT infrastructure:
As you’ve probably surmised from the definition of the term, there is a multitude of methods and processes to protect your IT infrastructure. While one solution may work for hardware components, chances are it would be ineffective for software.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), business owners and end users are encouraged to take the following actions to help protect their IT infrastructure.
- Segment your network. If a hacker gained entry to one part of an unsegmented network, they would suddenly have access to the entire network. However, you can minimize your risk by splitting your network into various subnetworks, each with its own security measures and credentials. If done properly, this should limit any intruder’s movement throughout your network.
- Separate sensitive data. This can be done in a couple of different methods. Physical separation refers to the use of additional hardware (in this case, routers) to create interruptions in the flow of network traffic. Virtual separation has the same goal, but does so without any additional hardware, working through the use of private virtual LANs, virtual routing and forwarding technology, or VPNs.
- Restrict unfiltered communication. The ability for employees to communicate with one another through a company network can be an invaluable resource. Left unfiltered, however, it can serve as a gateway to your network for any intruder who exploits it. The CISA recommends businesses use packet-filtering rules with their firewalls, which will allow or disallow any communication across the network based on the sender’s IP address.
- Restrict access to some devices. Does everyone in your organization need access to every device? If everyone has credentials to every device, assume any intruders do too. Manage and grant privileged access to specified personnel. Organizations should also manage who has administrator privileges. And as always, be sure to use multi-factor authentication and strong passwords that are frequently updated.
- Enable out-of-band management. If something were to happen involving your network or hardware while you were out of the office, how would you manage it? With out-of-band management, managers are able to access networks and hardware remotely and control them regardless of whether the network is online or not. Out-of-band management can also separate various components of a network—printers on one server, computers on another, etc.—making it more difficult for intruders to jump from one vulnerability to another.
- Only use validated hardware and software. A secondhand router may have a more appealing price tag, but it may also come with greater risks than a more top-of-the-line model. If you want your network to have top-flight security, you need top-flight components. Secondhand infrastructure can come with outdated security protocols that don’t hold up to modern cyberattacks, and buying from less reputable sources can sometimes be flagged as stolen or counterfeit, and can even come with malware pre-installed.
Taking the guesswork out of IT infrastructure:
Bringing your IT infrastructure up to modern specs is a lot of work—we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t. The process can involve a lot of trial and error, and a lot of judgment calls on your part that you may second-guess later on.
But it doesn’t have to. Consult with a professional and eliminate the guesswork entirely. Check out Pearl Technology’s IT infrastructure solutions to see what we can do to keep your organization running smoothly.
What are some IT infrastructure security measures you take? Let us know in the comments!