IT documentation is now more important than ever

Last updated: June 14, 2022

If viruses and other cyber threats could be transmitted from one computer to another exclusively via floppy disks – what a wonderful world that could be. Thirty or forty years ago, such viruses used to annoy us a lot. Especially when the boot sectors of floppy disks or hard disks were overwritten by a virus and a laughing skull was presented on the screen as if to add insult to injury.

This was precarious at the time because actual data backup was still in its infancy in many companies. Important documents were backed up on floppy disks, the lifespan of which hardly anyone had given a thought to back then. And the budget for IT equipment was mainly determined by the cost of IT hardware. Security measures were still quite scarce at that time.

Mostly considered was the expansion of floppy disk drives. Or at least the purchase of special locking mechanisms for floppy disk drives, which actually consisted of a slide-in bracket and an attached lock.

The latter security measures have been forgotten with the proliferation of USB ports and the flash drives.

Floppy disks are a relic from ancient times

Nowadays, floppy disks are no longer needed. Many young colleagues only know floppy disks from hearsay. You don’t need sticks anymore either – thank goodness for the Internet. Saving data in the cloud or downloading the latest program versions from the Internet are commonplace today. Importing 80 gigabytes via floppy disk? Have fun calculating how many floppy disks you would need for that. (Solution – with about 57,000 3.5 inch floppy disks with 1.44MB capacity each you can get there quite well).

Since those days, IT has grown tremendously in almost every company. For IT administrators, the many innovations in the last 10-20 years have not only made things much more complicated, but also much more complex. The Internet is to blame.

What could not have been foreseen at the time were the dangers lurking there, which we now come into contact with practically every day.

No one – and I emphasize NO ONE – would even think of connecting their computer or network to the Internet without protection. Even the computers at home are usually protected by a router and its integrated firewall. A direct connection via (DSL) modem is no longer done voluntarily by any sensible person. And if so, then not for long.

Some device must have a direct connection

A router is basically nothing more than a computer. But these are equipped by the manufacturer with a special operating system and firewall functionality. And as a rule, these manufacturers also offer good protection against the known dangers. Direct attacks on the firewall leave it unimpressed in most cases; access to the devices behind it, such as computers, servers or printers, is usually not possible without the administrator’s permission.

From this point of view, it is irrelevant whether an attacker attempts an attack directly on the IP of the firewall or not. As a rule, he will fail, provided the firewall is regularly updated (firmware and software) and there are no more security gaps.

So all is well? Absolutely not!

Now we are slowly getting to the tricky point of the matter. In order for a company to work properly today, many services are needed on the Internet. E-mails have to be received and sent, data is moved to and from the cloud or processed there. Various software providers require constant communication with their servers for licensing reasons, printers want to inform their manufacturers about toner and maintenance status. Programs now only keep their libraries in the cloud or also require a constant connection to the manufacturer in order to receive important updates and security patches.

The list of why a firewall needs to share countless data and destinations on the Internet is growing. And to get back to the tricky point. I don’t know if you’ve heard it before, but, “Software, tools and operating systems contain bugs!”.

Bugs are common

Bugs – this is the term used to describe errors in programs. Such bugs are present in almost every program. Some of these bugs are not particularly relevant to security. For example, if the default printer is not selected for a desired printout, but another device is selected, this is certainly annoying, but usually not particularly relevant to security (only if data is printed out which no one else should see, it may also be very unpleasant).

But there are also bugs that can be security relevant. Yes, we have had more than enough of these in recent years. And programs such as Exchange Server, which are used so frequently, illustrate how quickly a problem can spread in a network. Namely, when patches are not applied or even worse, when totally outdated versions are used in a company.

Never change a running system?

No, this way of thinking has absolutely no place in a modern network. Let’s stay with our example: Just because an e-mail server (actually wrong for Exchange, because this is a groupware server with many more functions than just e-mail) can still transmit e-mails after 10 years, does not mean that it is still connected to the Internet with the appropriate security.

Therefore, not only should IT hardware be replaced at regular intervals in a company, but appropriate care must be taken especially with the software used.

What can be done about this diversity?

From our own experience, we know that at a certain point, even the best administrator can no longer keep track of all the versions and happenings in their own network. The days when there are no urgent patches or new security holes are becoming fewer and fewer. If you don’t react quickly enough, you lose out to the attackers.

An important part of any security precaution is therefore also a detailed and, above all, always up-to-date IT documentation.

IT documentation is no reassurance

You’ve probably had to deal with an overzealous insurance agent who quite vivaciously explained the effects of a fire or accident in the most colorful way.

Believe me, this works much better in IT. But in contrast, administrators themselves usually have the best idea of how much an outage or such a cyberattack can cost a company. Not to mention the loss of reputation.

Companies are already investing very large sums of money in protection. Backups, in particular, are now much more important than they were a few years ago, even in smaller companies.

On the other hand, the measures to prevent such a loss from occurring in the first place are much more limited. Organizational issues in particular are still often compensated for with manpower. Yet there are already established, more professional and, above all, resource-saving solutions here.

Professional IT departments work with professional solutions

Not only security-related monitoring and documentation can be realized with Docusnap. The entire network also benefits from regular inventorying using Docusnap during normal operation. And with the various evaluations and reports that Docusnap already provides out-of-the-box, life as an IT manager is made much easier, even outside of emergencies.

Interested? Just try it out. With our 30-day trial version, you can already put Docusnap through its paces. Completely free of charge and without any obligations.

In order for you to enjoy the full potential of Docusnap right from the start, we add our professional support on top. Even during the test phase without any additional costs. Test and document – we look forward to hearing from you.