The Men & Mice Blog

Men & Mice Sensible IPAM Part 5: Security of IP Infrastructure

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 12/28/18 11:18 AM

In the final instalment of our 5-part series on IPAM (and really, more broadly, DNS, DHCP and IPAM), we’re taking a look at sensibly managing security in a scattered network environment. From large-scale DDoS attacks to mitigating human error, security measures come in all shapes and sizes — often overwhelmingly so. Here’s what you can do to stay ahead.

(TL;DR version: you need a DDI overlay to increase security on your network... and we happen to offer a great one).

This Playbook series consists of five parts:

Each part presents real-world problems for which Men & Mice has provided solutions.

Opposites attract… security problems?

Imagine that you are:

  • The CTO of a Managed Service Provider, whose own network is the first line of defense to protect customers. Your services are sensitive, as gaining access to or bringing down your network would compromise those utilizing your MSP solution. 

  • The Lead Network Administrator of a mid-sized enterprise company recently expanding with new employees (and devices), through M&A activities, arriving daily. Onboarding new people is your technological challenge, balancing their need for autonomy and network resources with your requirement to maintain security protocols.

While opposite in scale, these problems can wreak the same amount of havoc in both cases, and network security is of paramount importance, more than ever.

What You Need

Much of network security is inherently present in the technology used. Orchestration and synchronization between different software providers, interfaces and hardware, however, needs to be done well.

Good security practices have to be sensible to be ubiquitous across the network, instead of obstructive. They have to be simple at their core and robust in their execution to prevent and solve problems. Let’s face it, your network is complicated enough.

How not to approach IP infrastructure management (1)

Some of the more overlooked security vulnerabilities in network management today include:

  • Visibility challenges, or lack of central, unified overviews resulting from incompatible or simply different services (i.e. the variety of interfaces and functionality of each individual service that comprises the entirety of a network)

  • Misconfigurations or incompatibilities (what you do in one area of your network may not synchronize or be compatible with another area of the network, particularly with cloud vendors).

  • Human error (Hey, we all make mistakes. But automating can remove this ever-present challenge, increasing the health of the network).

  • Loss of control (how can you restrict access to increase security and focus on providing autonomy only where needed.)

Where Men & Mice Can Help

How to approach IP infrastructure management

Retaining network security on the DNS, DHCP and IP address level has been a core design principle for the Men & Mice Suite from day one (which was nearly 30 years ago). Managing the fundamental components of the network means great responsibility: if the foundations are compromised or out of sync, the entire network is at risk.

The first security risk the Men & Mice Suite has addressed in the evolving world of hybrid network management, was to eliminate synchronization and misconfiguration hurdles between on-prem services and cloud services, then across cloud providers, enabling greater automation and utilization of network resources, independent of what are the services themselves. Then, we centralized management of these diverse and otherwise incompatible resources into one place.  

This backend-agnostic, API-first overlay approach gave way to the xDNS Redundancy feature, which helps further mitigate DDoS and other malicious attacks.

If parts of the network become unavailable during an event like a DDoS attack, xDNS Redundancy prevents shutdown by switching to alternate resources. Once the affected resources are once again accessible, changes and updates are automatically synced across the entire network.

Due to the Men & Mice Suite's powerful, compatible APIs different network resources are processed and managed the same way within the Men & Mice Suite. This means that replicating or migrating DNS zones or DHCP scopes between network environments requires no special consideration or prolonged processes, making your DNS, DHCP and IPAM more nimble.

In addition, health alerts within the Men & Mice Suite provide the visibility necessary to proactively address misconfigurations, address space overlaps and malicious attacks while minimizing its effect on user experience.

Likewise, unified audit trails within the Men & Mice Suite help identify the source of an issue and on what area of the network, providing richer data to inform proactive decisions.

More often than any company would like to admit, especially in the age of post-Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) enterprise culture, security breaches can occur through human error. A simple password used across multiple mission-critical logins, a laptop stolen or left digitally unguarded, a malicious email attachment downloaded with malware, trojans or droppers, all can quickly take down or manipulate areas of your network, wreaking havoc.

The Men & Mice Suite’s granular access controls, including its integration with Microsoft Active Directory, provide solid security templates for preventing unnecessary access (and therefore unnecessary vulnerabilities) on the network. Retaining existing configurations and implementing new ones is easy, replicated, synched and scales as needed.

IT is no longer a department but a holistic and critical business resource. In 2019, we’ll be placing emphasis on closing the gap between IT professionals and IT users, on-prem and cloud teams as well as the increasing importance of overlays. It is our goal to showcase the importance (and value) of  proper DNS and IPAM for businesses, and the effects (and context) of eliminating network hindrances that complicate or slow business decisions.

Lesson 1: A quick way to learn about DNS Protocols

Here's a recent discussion during EuroBSDCon on DNS protocols and what will be changing in the future (DNS over TLS vs. DNS over HTTPS) by Carsten Strotmann on behalf of Men & Mice. We'll elaborate on this topic a bit more in 2019 during our talk at UTmessan in Reykjavik, February 8 & 9. 

What you need to know about DNS Protocols_ The good, bad and ugly of DoH and DoT

 

Topics: network management, hybrid ipam, hybrid dns, ip infrastructure, network security, Security

Men & Mice Sensible IPAM Part 4: Managing Everyday DHCP, DNS, and IPAM

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 12/17/18 5:06 AM

We’re continuing our series on implementing sensible solutions to rein in scattered network resources, specifically IP infrastructure management such as DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI). In this post, we examine how to simplify day-to-day IP infrastructure operations, in-house or in the field, by rethinking priorities and streamlining the interface between you, your engineers and the network.

This Playbook series consists of five parts:

Each part of the blog series presents real-world scenarios that Men & Mice has helped solve.

When response time > features (agility)

Imagine that you are:

  • An infrastructure director of an enterprise company that’s recently experienced a merger. You’re evaluating newly acquired resources, and how to integrate them into the network. For the moment, however, you simply need to keep everything running smoothly while you evaluate how to merge the network resources. You need to quickly see network resource usage statistics, identify overlaps and bottlenecks, and monitor network health.

  • A network administrator delegating day-to-day management across teams and offices distributed over multiple international geographies. To minimize manual changes, cut network overhead and mitigate misconfiguration errors, you have to automate processes and set up local access controls that complement your network security strategy, in tandem with helping your team have the autonomy they need to operate unencumbered.

The integrity of enterprise IP infrastructure (DNS, DHCP, IPAM), factors heavily towards the business’s ability to execute on operations and even generate revenue. Yet, there’s very little knowledge, outside of core IT departments, about the functions and responsibilities of the company’s network. Likewise, IT operators don’t always have the full scope of understanding about how network complexities can hinder business efficiencies. What is known, however, is that agility is becoming more important as networks scale or adapt to meet changing demand, with speed and simplicity proving equally valuable to the robustness of the DNS, DHCP and IP address management solution.

What You Need from your DNS,DHCP and IPAM

How not to approach IP infrastructure management (2)

Instead of lugging the proverbial kitchen sink everywhere you go, or retro-fitting your network needs into a uniform solution (especially when doing so creates greater hurdles), that, well, doesn’t actually serve your needs, choose a lightweight overlay solution that lets you resolve common issues and manage network functions quickly, every day and provides the visibility necessary to maintain the network’s integrity.

As Elias KhnaserSenior Director Analyst, Gartner, pointed out in a recent Gartner IOCS talk entitled,“Technical Insights: Top AWS and Microsoft Azure Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid,”  3rd party solutions (eh em) should be used to bridge gaps between on-prem and cloud for hybrid / multicloud environments. Likewise Bob Gill encouraged the use of overlays “to bring order to the chaos.” (Thanks, Bob! We agree.)

This will enable you to simplify workflow and minimize the complexities between you and the network, no matter which area of the network you are focused on any given day and no matter the underlying architecture behind it. Complete visibility helps you make informed decisions. Coupled with the flexibility to quickly maneuver, the solution you choose must enable you to adapt to changing needs without disruptions in network functionality.

Where Men & Mice Can Help with day-to-day IP infrastructure managment

With the robust and complete feature set of the Men & Mice Suite and the built-in visibility it offers,  you can tackle large projects and deep (re)organization all while getting a much clearer view of IP infrastructure management holistically. The newest version of the Men & Mice Suite, introduced a few months back, delivers the management power and day-to-day operational functionality through our light-weight overlay software, neatly packaged with an improved web application.  

The web application is designed specifically for day-to-day operations where speed and agility is paramount. For example, you can quickly organize and manage DNS zones and records or  IP address ranges, DHCP scopes and IP addresses. Its features are streamlined, to manage the most common tasks performed through the Men & Mice Suite with additional Quick filters and Quick command to further cut down time. If you need to deep dive into the guts of your network operations, fear not, you have the Windows management console as well.

Engineers overseeing various areas of your network can quickly respond to and solve IP allocation issues, move DNS zones and DHCP scopes, remove bottlenecks locally and experiment with moving more workloads to the cloud, without sacrificing the ever important visibility.

Automating and delegating tasks that are defined through fine-grained access controls within the Men & Mice Suite helps alleviate IT overhead and affords some localized autonomy in everyday scenarios, making day to day network management more efficient.

Infrastructure directors overseeing fragmented networks can get greater visibility and operational functionality. 

Men & Mice Suite distills powerful DDI capabilities into a non-disruptive software package, complete with an agile tool for day-to-day management, offering compatibility with Unix/Linux, Windows, and Cisco IOS as well as functionality across Azure DNS, Amazon Route 53, Dyn, NS1, Akamai Fast DNS, and IPAM in AWS, Azure and OpenStack.  Manage, sync and automate network changes and authorizations, filter and record changes through unified audit trails and get comprehensive insight into large-scale networks through one unified dashboard. 

In the last part of our playbook series, we’ll take a closer look at how to reinforce IP infrastructure security and prepare for DDoS mitigation and defense against other threats.

Topics: IPAM, IP address management, ip infrastructure, multicloud, hybrid dns, hybrid ipam, network security, network management, day-to-day IT

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The Men & Mice blog publishes educational, informational, as well as product-related material for everyone and anyone interested in IP Address Management, DNS, DHCP, IPv6, DNSSEC and more.

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