Manual IT security is quietly making your organization more vulnerable to security incidents. If you keep relying on manual processes, protecting your organization will become much more difficult over time. You might not be convinced yet. To prove it to you, here are six ways that manual IT security practices and processes cause security problems.
1) The Problem With Manual Password Resets
Manually managing password administration is a recipe for disaster. Here are some of the ways this process can go off the rails. First, any security process that feels like a lot of work is less likely to be completed on a timely basis. For instance, waiting on hold with the help desk is not an appealing prospect. What if your organization requires the employee to obtain approval from a manager before getting an access change?
Requiring manager approval is reasonable for significant access changes. However, asking each manager to track their email approvals puts a heavy burden on them. What if they accidentally delete the email? You might fail an IT security controls audit due to incomplete documentation of your controls.
2) Manual Patch Management Issues
Picture this scenario. You have 500 laptops, 10 servers, and 50 network-connected printers in your organization. Each device needs to receive new patches as soon as possible. For example, vendors like Microsoft use a monthly release schedule. However, you probably have software from dozens or perhaps hundreds of vendors. Some of these patches and updates will be applied automatically through the cloud. Others will require a review and update by the IT team.
With manual patch management, the whole process can break down easily. For example, what if your usual technician who monitors for new patches is sick (or goes on vacation) the week a new patch is released? With a manual approach, your organization may not get fully updated until a week or two later.
Even if you have a well-managed coverage schedule for patch management, it is still possible that you will miss certain software or fail to validate that patches are in place.
These security weaknesses can be significantly reduced by using an automated patch management solution.
3) Managing User Access Manually Increases Security Risk
Each employee in your company probably has access to a dozen or more different applications. Some specialized roles, like software developers, will have even more accounts. Keeping all of these access permissions well managed is a challenge! For example, how do you remove inactive users from your system when somebody leaves the organization? With a manual process, you have to rely on each manager to coordinate access removal with IT.
Manual user access management also undermines staff productivity. For example, when a new employee joins your company, they will need a user account to get their work done. If human resources or managers are slow or disorganized, that access may not be set up in time. As a result, you have a new hire sitting around with nothing to do.
4) Managing IT Security Training Delivery Manually
Equipping your employees with IT security training is an essential process. For example, you may require staff to use secure multi-factor authentication (MFA) process when they are working outside of the office. Unless you provide clear direction on when and how to use these tools, you cannot expect employees to understand your security expectations.
A manual approach to IT security approach may take a few forms. For example, you may send a broadcast email to all of your staff with security tips. Alternatively, you might ask managers to provide a monthly IT security tip to employees. These methods may help. However, gaps are common with this approach. Instead, it is often better to implement IT security training using a system where you can use quizzes and tests to evaluate employee comprehension.
That said, if you have no IT security training of any kind in place, a manual approach is better than nothing. At first, it is best to focus on basic practices that are relevant to all employees. For example, offer password management training to your employees.
5) Responding to IT Security Audits Manually
It’s a fact of life in many organizations – IT security audits. For example, financial companies have these types of audits annually. Other companies may use these reviews less often. No matter how often you have audits, they are time-consuming affairs. There are dozens of questions, interviews to schedule, and document requests. In our experience, responding to documentation requests can become very time-consuming.
For example, an auditor may ask for evidence of manager approval for all user accounts currently held by employees in a department. If this approval is tracked in a spreadsheet, you need to show how you protect the file from tampering. If you track everything by email, then you face the daunting task of tracking down emails from months or years ago.
6) Producing IT Security Reports Manually
Regular reporting is a vital process to keep control of your IT security. When you take a manual approach to gather the data and analyzing it, those activities take a long time. That means you have less time to think about emerging risks and what recommendations you should make. Even worse, a manual approach to reporting means you are more likely to report bad data. All it takes is one or two bad formulas in a spreadsheet, after all.
The Shortest Path To Automated IT Security
No doubt, relying on manual IT security processes takes a lot of time and increases the chance of error. You’re probably asking yourself what exactly you should do next. Focus your effort and resources on the change that would have the biggest impact on your organization.Most of the time, your best bet is to install a security software solution to automate your processes. Simplify how many passwords your employees have to worry about by installing a single sign-on solution. After that is in place, install a self-serve IT security chatbot so employees can request a password reset and get a response in seconds.