David Brooks, VP of Account Management

You may have noticed from my previous articles that I like to use analogies when talking about technical or compliance issues. This time I am going to take a little different approach. During a recent technology committee meeting an ISO asked me “How do I get the most out of our Platinum Level agreement?” (thanks Ross). Given our current economic environment, where we are all looking for values, I thought this would be a timely topic.

Since Ross asked the initial question let’s start with Platinum. The key features of this service level are outsourced network monitoring and management from servers down to the workstation level, including patch management and vulnerability scan remediation. So your responsibilities move from network administration to technology management. The first step seems simple, but may be harder than you think: let Safe Systems do its job. Don’t spend time troubleshooting issues or trying to remote into a user’s workstation only to find Safe Systems is already working on the issue. We have actually had this happen multiple times. Your job now is to monitor the situation, you will receive emails when tickets are opened and closed.

Second, from an ISO level, you need to monitor Safe Systems as you would an internal network group. Remember that you probably just went from a staff of one (or less) to managing a whole staff of network engineers and research and development, training, and compliance specialists. Now what do I mean by manage? You really have the best of both worlds here; you don’t have to worry about approving time off requests, annual performance reviews, or hearing about personal problems. You just need to review reports and make sure you stay up-to-date with what is going on with your network. The first report that you should be running on a weekly basis is the “Remote Control” report from the NetComply portal. This report shows every time a Safe Systems engineer connects to your network via NetComply. Because of our increased level of connectivity it will be important for you to audit our connectivity. This report can be scheduled to run automatically each week and emailed to you, the ISO. Please see the following NetComply article for instructions on how to schedule reports. You also need to stay aware of how we are doing with patch management and vulnerability remediation. To do this run the”Patch Management” report from the NetComply portal and compare it to the patch management and vulnerability scans that your security monitoring company provides you (usually on a monthly basis). What you want to see here is that patches are applied on a timely basis. Given the nature of this service you will always see some outstanding patches. This is usually a timing issue as to when the reports were run and patches applied.

The next area you can get your management information is your Quarterly and Annual reviews. Use these visits to fulfill your regulatory requirements on inventory control and new technology and compliance trends. Your account manager will run both hardware and software inventories and review them with you. It is your responsibility to make sure you do not have any illegal software on your network as well as have a working knowledge of the number and types of devices on your network. Your account manager will also provide you with new technologies that our (and yours) R&D department is working on. Currently we are reviewing (and implementing) Hosted Exchange, Data Vaulting, and Server Virtualization. Our Compliance Department is currently reviewing the new FFIEC BCP/DR Examination manual, Red Flag, and Merchant Capture Policies. The biggest thing to remember here is, it is still your network and it is your responsibility to make sure it stays up-to-date and in compliance. It is our job to make sure you have the tools to do that.

For Gold and Silver level services, you also need to actively monitor Safe System access and performance via NetComply reports and use your Quarterly and Annual reviews to do technology and compliance planning. To help you maximize your value you need to look at the NetComply portal as your main network management tool, just as our NOC (Network Operation Center) does. Currently you have the ability to retire your WSUS server and do patch management via the NetComply portal. To expand on that point and truly make the NetComply portal your main network management tool you can add a couple of new features: antivirus and remote control. We now are offering antivirus powered by AVG via the NetComply portal. So there is no longer a need to manage your AV through a separate interface (along with other technical reasons too detailed to get into now), separate renewal dates throughout the year, and another vendor to manage. Remote control gives the ability to retire PC Anywhere or Proxy. Remote Control via the NetComply portal gives you the ability to remotely manage servers and workstations via a secure Internet connection. This connection does not need to be initiated from inside your network, that is right, you now have the ability to securely manage your network from a remote location (like HOME!). These connections will be tracked via the Remote Connection report like all Safe System connections, giving your management team an audit trail. We have seen a significant productivity increase in our NOC and we are confident you can achieve those same increases when you fully utilize NetComply.

Now for Bronze…upgrade to Silver. Seriously, once you get comfortable with all the features that Silver gives you over Bronze the functionality greatly outweighs the difference in cost. Contact your AM about year-end upgrade incentives.

I hope you have found this article informative and I would like to thank Ross with Flint Community Bank for giving me the original idea. I know we all have had to tighten our belts but don’t tighten them too much, remember Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon.

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