How to keep government IT simple

Many people depend on government networks to be safe and reliable. However, as the pace of technology continues to ramp up in its seemingly never-ending development, government IT workers are often faced with many emerging threats and new equipment and software to be added to their systems. With so many diverse applications, users and regulations, it can be easy for something to get lost in the complexity.

When all of the data contained on government servers is considered sensitive or valuable, a complex network can be risky. Data management is just one factor federal IT departments need to consider when trying to simplify their infrastructure. In order to remedy the complications plaguing government systems, IT workers must first identify the areas that are adding to the problem.

Only going to get worse with time
Technological innovations occur at lightning speeds now, heralding untold benefits and advantages all kinds of industries can reap. However, with this progress comes the perpetual struggle of applying such advancements to older hardware and making them work together.

Over half of federal agencies believe their networks have increased in complexity over the past year without any indication of slowing down, according to a report by MeriTalk. The result of such intricacies have caused 94 percent of those surveyed by MeriTalk to experiences some kind of downtime, preventing many government departments from operating normally and servicing the country.

There are many potential elements that add to the complexity of federal networks such as cloud integration, virtualization and even an increase in general use, asserted Federal Technology Insider. That doesn't mean the rewards aren't worth the effort, either. Many of these upgrades are necessary to guarantee networks are safe and efficient, as well as to keep pace with the times.

But if government IT professionals are able to simplify the systems they use, they can ensure agencies have the tools they need to perform optimally.

Here are three tips that can help federal workers manage their networks in an easier way:

  1. Establish a log – With so many employees in every agency each going about their own duties and accessing whatever resources they need that day, it can be hard to keep track of who views what sensitive information and what changes were made. The confusion is just a recipe for disaster that opens the door for people with malicious intents, either inside the organization or outside it. IT departments can set up an event log on their network that helps them keep track of everything happening on a network, stated Government Computing News. By recording every action that takes place in a log, federal agencies can better protect files and prevent them from becoming lost.
  2. Upgrade for security – The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is the framework for many government networks, but IT professionals need to avoid any discovered vulnerabilities by guaranteeing its procedures are always updated. SNMPv3, the latest version of the protocol, makes up for the security weaknesses in its predecessors by boosting its levels of encryption, authentication and access control to protect the network. This incarnation also introduces a model for message security between both users to reduce the liabilities of important communications.
  3. Know your role – As with any complex problem, the more people working on it, the better the results should be. The same can be said for federal networks where managers can't always be checking every connection, device and application. By spreading out monitoring duties, government IT departments can be more thorough in their inspection of servers, devices and services, added Government Computing News. With so much going on at any given point, one pair of eyes could easily miss an intrusion or developing problem if its focus is diverted elsewhere.