I’ve got a buddy who works as a bridge engineer for a state department of transportation. It’s his job to go to bridges and look them over to make sure that they are safe. He checks them not only on a regular basis, but also whenever there’s been a change made to the bridge or the connecting road. If all is well, the bridge is certified to carry the traffic it was designed for. If not, then it’s up to him to say what traffic is safe for the bridge conditions. It doesn’t matter if his decision means important shipments have to be diverted: safety comes first.
Our routers, switches, and firewalls are the bridges of our networks. Granted, a bridge is a type of network device that is none of the previous things, but for the sake of the analogy, I’m going to call the routers, switches, and firewalls “bridges”.
These bridges get inspected periodically by security auditors. Do they get inspected every time there’s been a change? No. We just hope and assume that things are all well and only take a look at them come the next audit. When network devices fail or are breached, we deal with them when we’re aware of the issue. That’s like waiting for a bridge to fail – and then someone to notify us of the failure – before doing anything to shore up the bridge so it can function according to its design. My bridge engineer buddy wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he didn’t know that people like him are constantly keeping eyes on the bridges all over his state.
And I know far too many CIOs and network engineers who are kept up at night by things going wrong on their networks.
There’s hope for the haggard network leader and engineer, however. I’m fortunate to be able to work with Titania and their Nipper Enterprise platform. Nipper Enterprise provides that continuous assurance for the bridges of our networks that we would want to have in order to sleep better at night. Equally important, it provides a level of continuous assurance that stakeholders are entrusting CIOs and their teams of network engineers to deliver.
Titania Nipper already is used by auditors around the world for one-off checks on network gear. In many ways, it’s the best tool you’ve never heard of if you’re not an auditor yourself. Nipper Enterprise scales across the distributed enterprise by taking in all the devices, assessing them, and indicating whenever there’s been a change made. For regulatory frameworks that push organizations towards continuous monitoring, this is the perfect tool for that purpose.
By connecting to a CMDB or other repository of device configurations, Nipper Enterprise can detect when changes have been made to the configuration of a router, switch, or firewall and then assess the configuration at that point in time to determine if it remains as compliant as before, or if new faults are detected. If there are new faults found, then Nipper Enterprise can kick off workflows that include recommendations for code changes to address those faults and bring the devices into compliance.
My buddy and people in his role provide continuous assurance to drivers that their bridges are safe to drive on. I don’t know of a product that provides continuous assurance for network devices other than Titania Nipper Enterprise.