It used to be that employees stayed at a company for a long time. People did the same job for years, and you could go to someone in-house and ask where something was or how it was done. Good, bad or indifferent, there was a ‘way’ things got done. In today’s day and age, with the complexity of technology and the movement of jobs, this is no longer something you can count on. This is one of the reasons that documentation becomes so important for institutions. The need to have consistent implementation and education is paramount to being an efficient, and properly protected, organization. Often when our team conducts a security assessment, the inconsistencies show through… when documentation is requested, there is none to fall back on. Lack of consistent implementation creates the cracks that attackers squeeze through.
For some organizations, this is a shift in mindset. Stopping the practice of just doing, and instead stopping to ask: Is what I am doing the right thing? Is it consistent and secure? Getting started requires your team to ask: What technologies are in place? How are they managed today? Is how they are managed today appropriate? What are configurations necessary to secure the systems in place while meeting the business needs? Are there regulatory requirements that need to be considered? What are the minimum acceptable security controls to be put into place? Then, the next step is putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – and recording it all.
The upfront ‘pain’ of documenting configurations and getting consensus on the right controls to have in place can be an investment in time, but efficiencies in communication, and consistencies in the management and implementation of technologies can save you time in the long run. It can also save you money on extra staffing costs, provide more effectiveness in the education and onboarding of new IT hires, and help your organization meet regulatory requirements. The tough part, of course, is really putting it all into action and recording the gaps and risks present in the process. Progress over time is the goal. With appropriate tracking of the gaps, there will be less crevasses for malicious actors to slide through. That is a topic for another post.