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Tips to make your Monday suck less this leap year

The life of an IT professional can be stressful, demanding and draining even at the best of times, so instead of allowing Monday February 29th (leap year) to look and feel like any other Monday, why not do something that will help save yourself time in the future?

As an IT professional, using the extra day wisely to do the jobs you never seem to get around to, or implementing tools you’ve been meaning to, could be the gift that keeps on giving as it’ll positively impact your working life moving forwards.

In an ideal world…

We asked our thwack community, a circle of more than 150,000 IT pros, what technology they would invest in, if money was no object, to make their lives as IT pros easier.

After providing their team with pay rises, installing pool tables and employing an in-house masseuse, the majority of respondents said they would invest in more monitoring tools, as you can never have too much information and data about your environment and infrastructure’s health. Further to this, investing in more, if not unlimited, storage was next on the wish list, due to the growing need for storing extensive amounts of data and information.

Finally, many agreed that using the extra day to set up a self-help portal for employees, which provides step-by-step solutions to issues such as resetting passwords or retrieving lost files, would free up a lot of their time – meaning they can focus on the more pressing demands of an IT professional.

However, if these suggestions seem unlikely this time around due to resource constraints, SolarWinds has put together some top tips to inspire how, on a budget, you can make the most of your extra leap year Monday:

1) Review your device access list

BYOD is now widely implemented across most organisations, but from an IT pro perspective staff using personal devices for work has caused nothing but hassle. Vast amounts of corporate data could be compromised if a laptop or smartphone is lost or stolen, so make sure to block unauthorised devices from accessing the network by creating a policy that allows the team to track and monitor devices, switches and ports.

To ensure maximum security, develop a ‘whitelist’ of all the devices which are allowed to infiltrate the network and set up notifications if a device attempts to access the network that is not on the approved list. It’s also important to remember that if an employee has recently left the company or changed departments, their devices may still be connected to information which is no longer necessary, so this will need to be amended.

2) Educate both your IT department and employees

Though it might be obvious to an IT pro to check the source of an email before clicking a link, other people perhaps wouldn’t think twice about it.

To combat this, the general workforce needs to have a better understanding of the dangers associated with everyday mistakes. A way to start this initiative is to join forces between IT and HR departments, ensuring they work closely together to develop and deploy ongoing workshops to educate employees, and change people’s ways of thinking when it comes to data security.

The SolarWinds thwack community also indicated how training shouldn’t stop at employees, but that the IT department can always use extra teaching. By using the extra day this year to invest in expanding the certifications and skill sets of the IT team, encouraging them to be experts in their field, can be time and money well spent and will have a knock-on effect in terms of time savings and quality of work for the rest of the year.

3) Update your firewalls

Regardless of the network size, firewalls can accumulate an ever-growing list of conflicting and redundant rules and objects, which can cause mayhem in firewall management. You can use the extra time to run automated scripts or leverage a firewall management tool to help with the clean-up process by identifying conflicting rules, removing redundancies, and generally streamlining the ACL structure.

4) Have fun with passwords

Often the excuse for having a weak password is because they won’t remember a difficult one. However there is an opportunity for employees to have fun with this. Why not use the extra Monday to increase internal security by sending out some fun examples of how to come up with a secure password.

Set a challenge for employees to come up with four random words and create an image in their head to remember them all. For example, take the completely unrelated words ‘flag, castle, dog and pizza.’ On the surface these are four completely random words that would be difficult to remember. But if you painted a picture in your mind of a dog eating a pizza in a castle with a flag, it will be much easier to remember.

The second layer would be to switch every ‘a’ to the number four so the password will become ‘dogpizz4c4stlefl4g’ – now that’s going to be hard to crack!

Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Image source: Shutterstock/A. and I. Kruk

Leon Adato is the Head Geek at SolarWinds.