Mind the gaps between legacy IT and digital tech

July 3, 20194 Minute Read

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“Mind the gap,” the watchwords of the British rail service, should be fixed on the monitors of all managers overseeing environments that mix legacy IT and newer digital tech solutions. These hybrid environments can create holes in operations and security policy that cause bottlenecks and put organizations at risk for cyber attacks.

Closing digital gaps can be tricky. “Companies get tripped up when they try to connect their digital initiatives with the organization’s hundreds of legacy IT systems and databases,” notes Forbes. “In many cases, those systems have been in place for decades and can’t interface with new digital apps and architectures.”

Fortunately, once you quantify the gaps in your processes, you can start to close them.

Perform a gap analysis

Moving an organization to digital is a multiyear journey that often requires a heavy investment. If it’s time for your organization to take the first step, perform a gap analysis so you can understand the ground between where you are and where you want to be. Your analysis should do the following:

  • Prioritize areas of your IT operation for analysis
  • Describe key aspects in terms of measurable performance
  • Identify targets to compare with current performance
  • Quantify the gap
  • Set up an actionable plan
  • Record the results

Pay attention to IoT devices

Because they tend to exist both inside and outside of the firm’s office space and are often added as afterthoughts, Internet of Things (IoT) devices scream for attention. Interoperability between these devices and your systems can account for substantial gaps in performance and also cost time and money.

According to an OpenMind article by Professor Ahmed Banafa, these costs tend to arise from the fact that “Legacy systems are well suited to handle structured data; unfortunately, most IoT/business interactions generate unstructured data.” Banafa also notes that, “Many IoT Systems are poorly designed and implemented, using diverse protocols and technologies that create complex configurations.”

Bolting together IoT and legacy requires expertise in both areas. Whether you’re heading up IT operations for an aerospace firm or a chain of bakeries, an experienced partner can help you streamline the workflow in your unique IT world.

Outsmart hackers

Cybercrime is stealthy, and unsecured IoT endpoints are the back alleys where cybercriminals lurk as they look for ways into your IT domain. In 2017, a gray-hat hacker called “Stackoverflowin,” who wanted to warn the world about this very issue, let loose an automated script that accessed 150,000 public printers.

Despite Stackoverflowin’s warning, threats of this kind often remain unchecked. According to Spiceworks, a printer is 68 percent more likely to be the source of an external threat or breach than it was in 2016 and 118 percent more likely to be the source of an internal threat or breach.

An attacker who breaches an endpoint can move through a company’s network, applications, and data assets with relative ease. The potential for harm doubles when the device is connected to legacy equipment with inadequate security.

Modern printers, like all IoT devices, are “advanced, specialized network hosts, and as such, they should be given the same level of security attention as traditional computers,” says Kevin Pickhardt of Entrepreneur.

So what can you do? The easiest solution is to work with a partner that offers a comprehensive security solution. HP Security Manager, for example, can help you establish a fleet-wide security policy, ensure compliance, and protect your workflow—all while safeguarding the information that keeps your company ticking.

Take care when ditching old tech

Unlike a battered sofa, you can’t kick old tech to the curb; valuable information remains on the hard drives. Here are two options to safeguard your privacy when disposing of old tech:

  1. Contact a reputable green-friendly company that will buy back and donate old equipment sustainably and securely.
  2. Dispose of the equipment yourself. Keep sensitive data out of the wrong hands by physically removing and storing a device’s hard drive. Alternatively, simply destroy it by wiping, degaussing, drilling, or shredding it. If applicable, keep certificates of destruction for audit purposes.

Upgrade without the hassle

Shift the hassle of upgrading your legacy digital environment onto the shoulders of an experienced partner. An experienced Managed Service Provider can close gaps, keep your workflow humming, clamp down on security, and even help you dispose of displaced equipment. With your legacy equipment and new devices working in sync, you can move spend less time minding the gap and more time discovering solutions that improve the bottom line.

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