If you’re like most businesses, your IT environment is constantly evolving – operating systems are upgraded, new hardware is added, and new applications are launched. This ecosystem of connected and interdependent resources must be managed to ensure everything runs smoothly and is kept up-to-date, which can be a daunting task.
From a cybersecurity perspective, unpatched technology can leave your network vulnerable to a cyber-attack. However old and outdated technology can pose other threats to your business as well. Following lifecycle management practices – knowing where your risk areas are, and keeping current on those risks – allows you to keep your business more secure.
What is Technology Lifecycle Management?
Taking a lifecycle management approach to your environment means you’ve planned for all stages – from deployment, to operation, to expiration. You have:
- An inventory of every resource within your environment, including operating systems, hardware, middleware, and applications, including dependencies between resources.
- A business process and owner assigned for each resource.
- A schedule for reviews and updates based on criticality.
- A calendar of expiration dates on technologies with lead times mapped to vendor and / or internal product roadmaps for when things will no longer be supported.
In a lifecycle management approach, everything is scheduled, predicted, and planned for.
What are the Risks of an Unmanaged Technology Lifecycle?
Loss of Business Opportunities
You lose business when you have business processes that are dependent on things you can no longer control, i.e., an operating system that can’t be upgraded, middleware with security holes, or applications that can’t take advantage of new features.
When your business processes are not adaptable and flexible, you lose the ability to move with the market, technologies, and your customers. Having significant elements of your business processes handcuffed to systems and dependencies you cannot control leaves you locked out of opportunities.
Failed Business Processes
What does a failure do to your organization? It affects your revenue and reputation. Plus it changes the focus of the company. Instead of taking care of business, everyone is distracted to only deal with the failure.
Everything fails, however it’s very predictable in most cases. As an organization you need to take the time to understand that, and if you’re following lifecycle management processes you are better prepared to deal with failures.
If you experience a failure, solutions to get you back online can be extremely expensive. Costs are typically much higher when running in crisis / emergency response mode, than as part of a business plan.
For example, you have an appliance that handles your web proxy that always runs smoothly and gets automated updates from the vendor without issue. Unfortunately, no one paid attention to the announcement from the vendor that it would no longer be supported after a certain date. The date comes and goes, and then a year later the appliance stops working. Now you need to purchase a new appliance unexpectedly, plus pay extra to get it installed in a day.
Using a lifecycle management practice allows you keep on top of what is critical in your environment and helps you avoid these costs.
Alienate / Lose Customers
If you experience an outage, whether it’s of your entire business or a single business process, how long is okay? One day? Three weeks? Where does that leave your customers? Imagine the connector to your payment processor fails because of an outdated piece of hardware. The inability to process payments would not be acceptable to customers, and will most likely have them looking to do business elsewhere.
What are the Benefits of Lifecycle Management?
Adhering to lifecycle management principles can help you:
- Identify risks early;
- Deal with solutions at reasonable costs; and
- Minimize business interruptions.
Aligning your IT environment with business drivers can help you better manage the lifecycle of all your resources. You can anticipate issues and minimize interruptions.
Are your employees vulnerable to a social engineering attack? It’s unsettling to think that your entire network could be compromised if one of your employees unknowingly clicks the wrong link or lets the wrong person through your door. Tyler's Social Engineering Vulnerability Assessments are designed to lower this risk by identifying weaknesses that could allow attackers to target unsuspecting or uninformed employees. We conduct these tests using the tactics of social engineering, such as deception, manipulation, and intimidation, to see whether we can get the people in your organization to accidentally compromise your information.