How to Achieve Security and Data Retention Compliance Obligations with NetFlow

Information retention, protection and data compliance demands are an important concern for modern organizations. And with data being generated at staggering rates and new entry points to networks (mobile devices, wireless network, etc.) adding their own levels of complexity, adherence to compliance obligations can prove challenging. In addition, when considering high profile network hacks such as the Sony, Dropbox and Target intrusions, it quickly becomes clear that no organization is immune to the possibility of having their systems compromised. This backdrop demonstrates the importance of finding a suitable network monitoring solution that is able to navigate the tightrope between meeting regulatory requirements without placing too much strain on hardware resources.

In this blog we’ll touch on two of these regulatory standards: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and look at how Network Specialists can leverage NetFlow’s ability to provide insightful metrics that aid in the building of a water-tight security apparatus.

NetFlow and HIPAA

Few have greater concerns around information privacy than the health care industry. If compromised, medical records containing patients’ sensitive information can lead to disaster for both health care organizations and individuals. The Privacy Rule, as stipulated by HIPAA, addresses the data retention compliance and protection measures expected of health care organizations to ensure critical patient records remain safe, uncompromised and reliable.

One of these protection measures is the continuous monitoring of information systems to prevent security breaches or unintended exposure of information to the wrong people. NetFlow is ideal for monitoring and enforcing security by giving detailed insight into both local, inbound and outbound traffic. It also allows you to easily identify the nature of the traffic and see how traffic flows between devices as it traverses your environment.

NetFlow’s ability to detect and report on anomalies through analysis by a NetFlow analyzer can give health care organizations unmatched network visibility and data granularity. Its availability on most networking devices makes it ideal for deployment in and monitoring of large-scale environments such as hospitals and other health care facilities. Also, flow exports to NetFlow analyzers are comparatively lightweight, which makes it possible for organizations to collect and store network audit data for extended periods of time.

NetFlow and SCADA

SCADA is a standard that facilitates communication channels between remote equipment as a means to control their functions. Examples of SCADA at work are remote management of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, industrial equipment and Closed Circuit Television systems. SCADA is a type of industrial control system (ICS). Security around SCADA-enabled systems are paramount to human safety, as typical utilization of SCADA include sewerage systems, power plant and water treatment facilities. Also, these management systems typically communicate via the Internet, making them vulnerable to hackers who may seek to use them as entry points into corporate networks.

NetFlow provides built-in support for SCADA and facilitates real-time monitoring and management of communication between remote devices, making it possible to take corrective action on-the-fly if needs be. It also enables users to make operational decisions based on both real-time and historic data that gives context to anomalies and events as they occur. Users are also able to perform functions remotely without visiting sites to perform updates and other maintenance tasks. By providing detailed and up-to-date information on business-critical systems, NetFlow is enabling businesses to be more proactive in the monitoring, management and maintenance of remote devices and systems.

Employing the right NetFlow reporting tool is key to manage compliance obligations

The missing link in leveraging the power of NetFlow in data retention and protection efforts is a powerful, comprehensive and robust NetFlow reporting tool. When considering your regulatory obligations, ensure that your choice of NetFlow reporting tool gives you the detailed, granular and contextual information you need to make insightful, data-driven decisions around the security, integrity and stability of your information assets.

 

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