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The smarter the device, the smarter you need to be about monitoring it
By: PagerDuty Blog
Mar. 10, 2017 12:00 PM
Smart Devices, Smarter Monitoring
Smart devices require smart monitoring. That's not a platitude. It's an imperative. In fact, the smarter the device, the smarter you need to be about monitoring it.
Why You Should Monitor
Smart devices can be hacked
It's worth noting that the DDoS attacks simply made use of smart devices as nodes in a botnet, without specifically exploiting their hardware control or monitoring capabilities. It is not difficult to imagine a more targeted attack aimed at specific classes of smart devices and designed to make use of those hardware control capabilities, possibly with catastrophic consequences.
Even an attack on a single device could cause considerable damage, depending on its function. Given the potential danger and lack of built-in security, adequate monitoring is a necessity for detecting and preventing future attacks.
Smart devices often perform more complex functions than their non-smart counterparts
Smart devices often have greater responsibilities than non-smart devices
Smart devices may run expensive factory-floor equipment, traffic lights, power production and distribution facilities, as well as other important (and sometimes crucial) resources. Even a smart system for monitoring and balancing home electrical power may cause significant problems and economic losses if it fails. And when the failure of a system could endanger life or public safety, a major malfunction is not an acceptable option. It would be irresponsible and dangerous not to consistently monitor smart devices which control absolutely crucial functions, and that negligence could lead to significant legal repercussions or worse.
The device's built-in monitoring functions
The actual monitoring data
A complex OCF-compliant device may be able to provide you with a wide range of data about its operational state. When you have an abundance of monitoring data, to optimize response you need to decide what information should be monitored on an ongoing basis (to detect malfunctions and generate alerts, for example), and what information can simply be logged.
A simple non-compliant device, on the other hand, may produce nothing more than a cryptic (and non-specific) error code when it detects a failure or an out-of-range value. In that case, you simply have to take what you can get, and make the best of it.
What to filter, and what to ignore
Alert noise is more than just an annoyance. If there is too much of it, it may mask signals that do require attention. Worse, it can even cause alert fatigue in response teams, so that they fail to recognize alerts that do require immediate attention.
Analysis, sorting, and dispatching
Registering an alert in your system is only the beginning of the resolution process. Without effective, real-time information consolidation and dispatching, even the highest-urgency alerts may be in danger of getting lost.
Getting Even Smarter
In effect, this adds an extra layer of smartness to the device and the monitoring system, taking advantage of the rich set of features included in the OCF specifications. Even in the case of a relatively simple, non-compliant device, it's possible to make use of the data that's provided to set up genuinely smart monitoring and produce a genuinely smart response. In a world of increasingly more unknowns, implementing such a solution can help your teams minimize the potential financial and security repercussions of smart devices gone rogue.
Ready to take your monitoring to the next level? Sign up for a free PagerDuty trial today!
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