Automated security software brings respite to three-person IT dept

Automated security software for both file server and client machines brought much needed relief to harried IT staff at a Quebec farm equipment distributor.

Instead of constantly “putting out fires”, the trio — who formed the IT department at La Coop des Bois Francs in Victoriaville, Quebec — were able to concentrate on strategic tasks.

However, they vividly recall the time, not so long ago, when they were inundated with laborious, mechanical tasks that consumed a lot of their time without adding any value.

In addition, they were stressed out with maintenance responsibilities for more than 130 laptops, and several desktop computers belonging to the 250-employee firm.

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All that changed when the company installed the Small Office Security suite from Romanian security software maker BitDefender, according to Justin Bergeron, IT supervisor at La Coop.

By automating software updates, he said, the application cut down time spent by his team on these mechanical tasks from weeks to hours.

Previously the tech staff had to go from one machine to the next to perform security software updates.  

Though updating each machine took just 15 minutes, doing this repetitive task for a massive bank of computers was time consuming, and logistically challenging.

“A company-wide upgrade would drag on for a week because it was very difficult to schedule something like this when so many employees are mobile,” Bergeron noted.

Typical software updates, he said, would tie-up his small team, leaving him to handle analytical and technical tasks all by himself.

Now, however, all of that is but an unpleasant memory with the firm’s recent rollout of Small Office Security Suite. The suite bundles BitDefender’s Client Security and Security for File Servers offerings.

Apart from its virus detection, cleaning, and quarantine features, Client Security allows for flexible scheduling as well as on-demand immediate execution of scans, Bergeron said.

It also includes personal firewall protection for remote or roaming users. “The package provides a higher level of security management.”  

For instance, he said, Client Security allowed the tech team to enforce security policies through application level controls to prevent end users from running specific programs.

The tool also enabled the team to block end users from visiting certain types of Web sites or transmitting e-mails with sensitive information.

All this means IT doesn’t have to look over the shoulders of each and every user, said Bergeron. “With automation we are able to reduce resource costs and overhead involved in managing multiple clients.”

BitDefender’s Security for File Servers is a data security tool for Windows-based servers. The tool was easy to install, configure and manage, the IT supervisor said.

He said Security for File Servers scans all files, including compressed ones, for viruses, spyware and rootkits.

The tool quarantines suspected or infected files to cut contamination risks. It restores quarantined files to their original location once they are checked and found to be harmless.

Bergeron said the tool helped cut down file scanning procedures by using a multi-thread architecture.

This architecture creates parallel instances of a scan engine and optimizes the process by scanning a file only once, unless that file is accessed again.

A centralized dashboard enables the IT to monitor deployment status and audit all machines based on pre-determined alert thresholds.

The Internet functions as a double-edged sword for many small and mid-sized businesses, noted Claudiu Popa, information security consultant and CEO of Informatica Corp., a Toronto-based IT security firm.

While the Web enables smaller firms to boost productivity and reach a larger audience, it has also morphed into a major security threat.

Popa said failure to update security settings and systems is a major cause of security breaches.

“The biggest reason for cybercrime is laziness and lax security practices.”  

Systems that haven’t been updated in ages, transactions that aren’t monitored, data that hasn’t been backed up can potentially wreak havoc, the analyst warned.

Unfortunately, he said, not all smaller outfits have the manpower or resources to effectively carry out these tasks.

Popa said businesses can easily install security software products that automate the update processes, but the human factor cannot be ignored.

“One of the simplest solutions is for the company to adopt security maintenance best practices and map that to compliance requirements.”  

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