Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Welcome, fellow network explorers! Are you ready to embark on a journey of discovery? Do you crave the thrill of uncovering hidden secrets? Then hold on tight, because we're about to take a deep dive into your network's inner workings.
Think of your network as a vast, mysterious land, full of winding pathways, hidden traps, and elusive treasures. And just like any adventurer worth their salt, you'll need a trusty map to navigate this terrain. That's where network auditing comes in.
In this step-by-step guide, we'll show you how to conduct a thorough network audit, from mapping out your network's topology to identifying potential security risks. Whether you're a seasoned IT professional or a curious newbie, we'll equip you with the tools you need to become a master network explorer.
So grab your compass, strap on your boots, and let's uncover the secrets of your network together - We’re teaching you how to perform a network audit.
A Network Audit is the process of reviewing and evaluating the performance and security of a network infrastructure. It involves assessing the various components of the network, including hardware, software, security protocols, and user access, to identify potential problems, security risks, and areas for improvement.
The process involves analyzing the network's architecture, configuration, and protocols to identify potential vulnerabilities and issues that could impact the network's performance and security, and affect the end-user experience.
This can be done using manual or automated tools, like Network Performance Monitoring software, which will make the process much more efficient and accurate.
During a network audit, IT professionals typically perform a variety of tasks, such as mapping the network topology, analyzing network traffic, reviewing network configuration settings, checking for compliance with industry standards and regulations, and assessing the overall network security posture.
The ultimate goal of a network audit is to ensure that the network is operating efficiently and securely, and to identify any issues that may be impacting performance or exposing the network to potential security threats. By conducting regular network audits, organizations can proactively identify and address potential issues before they become major problems.
- Identify and document all devices and software on the network.
- Assess network security to identify potential vulnerabilities.
- Ensure compliance with internal policies and external regulations.
- Identify areas where network performance can be optimized.
- Create a baseline for future network improvements and comparisons.
When people complain about performance issues, the network is always to blame. But is it really a network issue? Here’s where a network audit comes in.
A network audit can have a variety of goals, depending on your network and need. For businesses with large network infrastructures, a network audit is especially important.
When it comes to network issues, some people need to see it to believe it. Network issues can be challenging to diagnose and resolve without a clear understanding of the underlying causes. A network audit helps in identifying and solving such problems by thoroughly analyzing the network infrastructure, including devices, connections, and configurations. By pinpointing the root causes of performance issues, downtime, or connectivity problems, the audit enables network administrators to take appropriate corrective measures.
The results obtained from a network audit can be used to involve external teams or service providers to assist in troubleshooting network problems. The audit report can serve as evidence or documentation to support requests for technical support or to seek assistance from specialized experts who can address specific network challenges. By engaging external resources, organizations can leverage additional expertise to resolve complex network issues efficiently.
If it’s not a network issue, a network audit will help you prove it so you can focus your attention elsewhere. Sometimes, network issues may be erroneously attributed to network problems when they are actually caused by other factors such as software applications, server configurations, or user errors. Conducting a network audit helps in ruling out potential network-related causes for problems, enabling organizations to focus their attention elsewhere. This process provides clarity and ensures that efforts are directed toward addressing the true underlying issues, saving time and resources.
Large network infrastructures often involve numerous devices, connections, and locations. A network audit helps in identifying vulnerabilities and areas that require improvement, enabling organizations to prioritize their efforts and allocate resources effectively. By assessing the security posture, performance bottlenecks, and obsolete components of the network, administrators can determine which parts of the infrastructure need to be upgraded, optimized, or replaced to enhance overall network efficiency and resilience.
Before implementing significant changes or introducing new services into a network, such as migrating from one network technology to another (e.g., MPLS to SD-WAN) or deploying a new service (e.g., VoIP), it is crucial to ensure that the network is prepared for the transition. A network audit helps in this preparation process by identifying potential issues or limitations that could impact the migration or deployment. By addressing these concerns proactively, organizations can minimize disruptions, optimize performance, and ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the new network technology or service.
Are you ready to embark on another adventure? Whether you're planning a network migration, deploying a new service, or just conducting regular maintenance, a network audit can help ensure that your network is ready for anything.
There are several situations when you might want to perform a network audit, including:
- Before a network migration: If you're planning to migrate your network to a new infrastructure, a network audit can help identify any potential compatibility issues and ensure that everything is working properly before the migration takes place.
- Before a new service deployment: If you're planning to deploy a new service, such as a cloud application or a new VoIP system, a network audit can help ensure that your network has the capacity and configuration needed to support the new service.
- Regular maintenance: It's a good practice to conduct network audits periodically to ensure that your network is operating at peak performance and to identify potential issues before they become major problems.
- After major changes: If you've recently made significant changes to your network, such as adding new hardware or software, or changing network configurations, a network audit can help ensure that everything is working properly and that the changes have not introduced any new security risks.
- Compliance requirements: Some industries and organizations are required to comply with specific regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR, which often mandate regular network audits to ensure compliance.
- Security concerns: If you suspect that your network may have been compromised or if you've experienced a security breach, a network audit can help identify any vulnerabilities or security gaps that may have contributed to the incident.
Overall, conducting regular network audits and performing them before a network migration or new service deployment can help ensure that your network is operating efficiently and securely, and can help proactively identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems.
Are you tired of wandering through the dark, labyrinthine corridors of your network, armed only with a flashlight and a prayer? Fear not, fellow explorer, for Obkio is here to guide your way! - sign up for Obkio's network performance monitoring tool now and let Obkio guide you thorough a network audit and uncover the secrets of your network.
- 14-day free trial of all premium features
- Deploy in just 10 minutes
- Monitor performance in all key network locations
- Measure real-time network metrics
- Identify and troubleshoot live network problems
In this article, we introduced a Network Audit, which is a comprehensive examination of an organization's network infrastructure, systems, and configurations. But, if you'd like to audit your network performance more specifically, let us introduce you to a Network Performance Audit.
A Network Performance Audit is a focused evaluation aimed at assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of a network's operation. The primary objective of a network performance audit is to identify bottlenecks, latency issues, bandwidth problems, and other factors that may impact the network's performance.
This type of audit is more concerned with how well the network is functioning in terms of speed, throughput, and response times. Which is a Network Performance Monitoring tool like Obkio, is the perfect solution for assessing and auditing your network performance!
The key objectives of a network performance audit are
- Measure network bandwidth utilization and identify any congestion points.
- Analyze network latency and response times for critical applications.
- Identify sources of packet loss or data transmission errors.
- Evaluate the performance of network devices, such as routers and switches.
- Recommend improvements to enhance network performance and user experience.
In summary, while a network audit focuses on the overall health, security, and compliance of a network, a network performance audit concentrates on the network's efficiency and how well it meets the performance requirements of the organization and its users. Both types of audits are essential to ensure that the network is running optimally and securely. Often, organizations may choose to perform both audits to gain a complete understanding of their network's strengths and weaknesses.
Now that you know what a network audit can do, before you begin, you need to determine why you want to perform a network audit. Set your objectives and expectations, whether it’s a migration, service deployment, optimization or problem-solving.
There are several objectives for a network audit, depending on the specific needs and goals of the organization. Some common objectives include:
- Assessing network performance: A network audit can help identify performance bottlenecks and other issues that may be affecting network speed and reliability.
- Identifying security risks: A network audit can help identify potential security risks, such as unsecured devices or open ports, and recommend ways to mitigate those risks.
- Ensuring compliance: A network audit can help ensure that the organization is complying with relevant regulations and industry standards, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, or GDPR.
- Planning for network upgrades: A network audit can help identify areas where the network may need upgrades or improvements, such as outdated hardware or software.
- Identifying opportunities for cost savings: A network audit can help identify areas where the organization may be overspending on network resources, such as unused licenses or unnecessary hardware.
- Enhancing network visibility: A network audit can help improve visibility into network activity, allowing IT teams to monitor network performance and troubleshoot issues more effectively.
Next, you need to plan for how you’re going to perform the network audit, and what tools are available to you.
There are different tools available to help you audit your network, but to really understand your network performance, you need a tool that:
- Monitors end-to-end network performance
- Monitor performance from the end-user perspective
- Delivers network performance reports and data for analyzing
A tool like Obkio's Network Performance Monitoring & Troubleshooting software is designed to help IT pros audit and understand their network performance. Obkio monitors network performance with Monitoring Agents which are deployed at key network locations and exchange synthetic traffic between each other.
Obkio is the only tool you need to conduct a thorough network audit and uncover the secrets of your network. Start a free Network Audit with Obkio’s free 14-Day Trial.
Once you’ve deployed your Network Performance Monitoring tool, the network audit begins. Obkio will provide you with all the data you need to audit the performance of every end of your network.
At this point is where we begin to collect data that you would also see in a Network Performance Audit.
Obkio’s Monitoring Agents will start exchanging traffic to measure network metrics like:
- Jitter: Jitter refers to the variation in delay between packets as they traverse a network. High jitter can lead to poor call quality in VoIP applications and video conferencing, among other issues.
- Packet Loss: Packet loss occurs when packets are lost or dropped during transmission. This can result in poor application performance, degraded call quality, and other issues.
- Latency: Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel between two points on a network. High latency can lead to slow application performance, poor call quality, and other issues.
- Network Availability: Network availability measures the percentage of time that a network is operational and available for use. High network availability is critical for ensuring that applications and services are accessible to users when they need them.
- Throughput: Throughput refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted over a network in a given period of time. High throughput is important for ensuring that applications and services can handle the data volume they need to process.
- Bandwidth: Bandwidth measures the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over a network in a given period of time. It is an important metric for ensuring that networks have sufficient capacity to handle data traffic.
- and many more!
Measuring network metrics is a critical component of a network audit, and more specifically a Network Performance Audit, because it provides valuable insights into the performance, capacity, and security of the network. By measuring key network metrics such as bandwidth utilization, packet loss, latency, and jitter, IT teams can identify potential issues and optimize network performance.
For example, if bandwidth utilization is consistently high, it may be an indication that the network is congested and that additional capacity is needed. Alternatively, if packet loss is high, it may be a sign that there are issues with network connectivity or that there are problems with the network infrastructure.
Measuring network metrics is also important for identifying security risks. By monitoring network traffic and measuring metrics such as traffic volume and application usage, IT teams can identify potential security threats, such as unauthorized access or data exfiltration.
In short, measuring network metrics is like having a trusty sidekick on your network auditing adventures. It provides the critical data you need to optimize performance, troubleshoot issues, and ensure that your network is running like a well-oiled machine. So don't forget to pack your metrics measuring tools on your next network audit expedition!
You may have an inkling that your network is experiencing issues, but you don’t always have the proof. Obkio collects the data you need to prove that there’s a network issue or not.
It's like having a secret weapon in your network auditing arsenal - Obkio collects all the juicy data you need to prove that your network is running smoothly, or that there's a pesky issue lurking under the surface. You may have a hunch that something's not quite right, but with Obkio's trusty data collection, you can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And not only does Obkio provide the data you need to identify network issues, but it also helps you optimize your network for peak performance. With Obkio in your corner, you can rest easy knowing that you have all the data you need to keep your network running like a well-oiled machine.
Once you’ve collected network performance data, it’s time to start analyzing. Here are some ways to do that:
Network Performance Reports provide a high-level view of your network performance and any network issues. They allow you to calculate, for each network site, the number of minutes during which a site's network performance is less than ideal. Reports are delivered right to your inbox, and you can schedule reports and even share them with your team or Service Provider.
Historical Data allows you to set a baseline for your network performance, so you can easily see when network performance deviates from the norm. It also allows you to analyze, compare, and troubleshoot performance from the past, and catch intermittent issues that appear and disappear sporadically.
Dashboards allow you to view and compare all the information gathered by Obkio’s Monitoring Agents. With dashboards, you can analyze data and come to conclusions about what's happening in the network and view all your network metrics in one place.
The Chord Diagram provides a visual representation of network status by Network Monitoring Agent and provides a single visual overview of global network performance. From here, you can see the live performance of every network location by colour (green, yellow and red).
Knowing your network is experiencing issues is just the beginning. The most important part of the job is discovering what the problems are, when they happened and where.
Think of it like being a detective on a thrilling case - knowing that your network is experiencing issues is just the first step. The real challenge is uncovering the root causes of those problems - when they happened, where they occurred, and what specific issues are at play. It's like piecing together clues to solve a complex mystery, and it takes the right tools and expertise to get to the bottom of it all.
By analyzing the data from your Network Performance Monitoring app, you can now easily identify network problems, including:
- What the problem is
- Where the problem is located
- What caused the problem
- When the problem happened
- Who is responsible for the network segment
- Congestion: Network congestion can occur when there is insufficient bandwidth to accommodate the amount of data being transmitted. This can cause slow network speeds and even complete network failure.
- Latency: Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. High latency can cause delays in data transmission, which can be particularly problematic for real-time applications like video conferencing or online gaming.
- Packet Loss: Packet loss occurs when data packets are lost or dropped during transmission, which can cause network performance issues and errors in data transmission.
- Jitter: Jitter refers to the variation in the delay of data packets as they travel across the network. High jitter can cause issues with real-time applications, such as voice and video calls.
- Security vulnerabilities: Security vulnerabilities can include weak passwords, unpatched systems, and misconfigured network devices, which can leave the network open to attacks and data breaches.
- Outdated hardware and software: Outdated hardware and software can cause performance issues and may also be vulnerable to security risks.
- Network availability: Network availability refers to the percentage of time that the network is operational. Downtime can be caused by a variety of issues, including hardware failures, software errors, and security breaches.
Identifying network problems is always a key part of a network audit. Network problems, especially intermittent network problems, frustrate users, impact your network performance, and can derail a new migration or deployment.
Pro-Tip: A tool like Obkio also allows you to set up Automatic Alerts for network issues, so you can be notified immediately.
Learn how to detect intermittent network problems to troubleshoot performance issues that are hard to catch with Obkio Network Monitoring software.Learn more
At this point, you’ll now know if your network is causing issues, and if so, what they are, when they happened, and where. From here, it’s time to turn data into actionable steps.
The network performance reports will be your most valuable tool for identifying where your network vulnerabilities are located and what they are.
For Internal Network Issues: Work with your internal team to troubleshoot. You can share results from network performance reports with your team members, and use tools like Obkio’s Network Device Monitoring to troubleshoot problems like high bandwidth and CPU usage.
For External Network Issues: Share network performance reports to prove to your Service Provider that problems are coming from their network. Troubleshoot using Visual Traceroutes to pinpoint exactly where problems are located and share traceroute results with your Service Provider for faster troubleshooting.
Upgrade or Optimize: Your network audit may also help you discover weaknesses in certain parts of your network. At this point, you may need to update your network equipment’s firmware, upgrade network devices, or increase your network’s bandwidth availability.
Th is step involves reviewing the findings from the audit and making recommendations for improving the network's performance, reliability, and security. This step is critical for ensuring that the network audit is not just a one-time exercise, but rather a proactive approach to ongoing network maintenance and improvement.
To make effective recommendations, the audit team should take a holistic approach, considering the network's architecture, hardware, software, and security. They should also take into account the organization's specific needs and goals, such as the need for high availability, data privacy, or compliance with industry regulations.
Some common recommendations that may arise from a network audit include:
- Upgrading hardware: If the audit identifies outdated or inadequate network hardware, upgrading to newer and more powerful equipment may be recommended.
- Updating software: If outdated software is causing performance or security issues, updating to the latest versions or switching to more reliable software may be recommended.
- Configuring network devices: If network devices are not properly configured, the audit team may recommend making changes to optimize performance, security, or both.
- Implementing new security measures: If security vulnerabilities are identified, implementing new security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, or access controls may be recommended.
- Improving documentation: If the audit identifies a lack of documentation for network configurations, policies, or procedures, improving documentation may be recommended to improve network management and troubleshooting.
- Training personnel: If personnel are found to lack the necessary knowledge or skills to manage the network effectively, training programs or certifications may be recommended to improve their skills.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide actionable insights that help the organization improve its network performance, reliability, and security. By taking these recommendations into account, the organization can create a roadmap for ongoing network maintenance and improvement.
Now it's time to make some moves! This step involves putting the recommendations made during the audit into action. This step is critical for improving network performance, reliability, and security, as it ensures that the changes needed to address the issues identified in the audit are actually implemented.
During the implementation process, it is important to monitor the network closely to ensure that the changes are having the desired effect and that they do not cause any new issues. Regular testing and monitoring should be conducted to verify that the network is operating optimally and that the new recommendations have been successfully implemented.
By following through on the recommendations made during the audit, organizations can ensure that their networks are optimized for their specific needs and are well-positioned to meet future challenges.
The "Monitor and measure results" step of a network audit is the final step in the process, and it involves ongoing monitoring and measurement of network performance to ensure that the recommendations made during the audit have been successfully implemented and are achieving the desired results.
To monitor and measure network performance, a variety of tools and techniques can be used, such as:
- Network monitoring software: Use Obkio even after your network audit to collect real-time data on network performance metrics, such as latency, packet loss, and throughput. This data can be used to identify any issues that arise and to track the effectiveness of the changes made during the implementation phase.
- Periodic network testing: Regular network testing can be used to verify that the network is performing as expected and that there are no new issues that have arisen since the audit. This testing can be conducted internally or by third-party service providers.
- User feedback: Collecting feedback from end-users can provide valuable insights into how the network is performing from their perspective. This feedback can be used to identify any areas where the network may be falling short and to guide future network optimization efforts.
- Performance reporting: Regular reporting can be used to provide stakeholders with updates on network performance, including any issues that have been identified and addressed, as well as any ongoing challenges or concerns.
The goal of monitoring and measuring results is to ensure that the network is performing optimally and to identify any new issues or challenges that may arise. By regularly monitoring network performance, organizations can identify and address issues before they become major problems, and can continue to optimize the network over time to meet changing needs and requirements.
By keeping a close eye on network performance and addressing any issues as they arise, organizations can ensure that their networks are well-positioned to meet the needs of their users and stakeholders.
When assessing the health and efficiency of a computer network, two essential evaluations come to the forefront: the network audit and the network performance audit. While both examinations delve into the intricacies of a network's operations, they serve distinct purposes and collect different sets of data.
A network audit aims to comprehensively evaluate the network's overall health, security, and compliance with industry standards. In contrast, a network performance audit focuses on assessing the network's efficiency, speed, and responsiveness.
The data collected and analyzed in a network audit and a network performance audit differ based on their respective objectives. Understanding the contrasting objectives and data collected in each audit provides organizations with valuable insights into their network's strengths and areas for improvement.
The data collected during a network audit is more comprehensive and focuses on assessing the overall health, security, and compliance of the network. The following types of data are typically gathered in a network audit:
- Network Topology: Information about the network's architecture, including devices, connections, and communication paths.
- Hardware and Software Inventory: A comprehensive list of all network devices, servers, routers, switches, firewalls, and software applications running on the network.
- Network Security Data: Data related to security policies, access controls, user privileges, authentication mechanisms, firewall configurations, and intrusion detection systems.
- Network Traffic Analysis: A general overview of network traffic patterns to identify any suspicious or unauthorized activities.
- Network Configurations: Detailed configurations of network devices and their settings.
- Compliance Data: Information on compliance with industry standards, legal requirements, and internal policies.
- Network Documentation: Detailed documentation of the network's layout, diagrams, and relevant documentation.
The data collected during a network performance audit is more focused on assessing the network's efficiency and performance. The following types of data are typically gathered in a network performance audit:
- Bandwidth Utilization: Data on the amount of network bandwidth being utilized by various applications and users.
- Latency and Response Times: Measurements of the time it takes for data packets to travel from one point in the network to another, affecting application response times.
- Packet Loss and Errors: Information on the rate of packet loss and data transmission errors.
- Throughput: Data on the rate of successful data transfer between devices on the network.
- Network Device Performance: Performance metrics of network devices like routers and switches.
- Application Performance: Data on the performance of critical applications running on the network.
- Load Balancing Data: Information about how network traffic is distributed across different resources to optimize performance.
In summary, a network audit collects data that provides a broad understanding of the network's health, security, and compliance, whereas a network performance audit focuses on specific metrics related to the network's efficiency, speed, and responsiveness.
Combining both types of audits can give organizations a comprehensive view of their network's status, helping them identify areas for improvement and optimization.
Before you let you off to start auditing your network, we wanted to leave you with the ultimate network audit checklist that you can take note of, or come back to check off.
- Utilize network monitoring tools to track and analyze network performance metrics.
- Monitor network traffic patterns, bandwidth utilization, and congestion points.
- Assess network latency, packet loss, and response times.
- Evaluate Quality of Service (QoS) configurations for critical applications or services.
- Identify and troubleshoot any performance bottlenecks or issues.
- Document the network topology, including devices, connections, and interdependencies.
- Verify the accuracy and completeness of existing network documentation.
- Identify any discrepancies or outdated information.
- Review firewall configurations and rules.
- Assess the effectiveness of intrusion detection and prevention systems.
- Verify that network access controls are properly implemented.
- Evaluate the usage of secure protocols and encryption mechanisms.
- Assess the network's vulnerability management processes, including patch management and vulnerability scanning.
- Review and document configurations of network devices (routers, switches, access points, etc.).
- Verify that device firmware and software versions are up to date.
- Assess device management practices, including authentication, access controls, and administrative procedures.
- Evaluate the use of network segmentation and VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) for security and performance purposes.
- Assess the network's redundancy and failover mechanisms.
- Verify the implementation of backup connections or alternate routes.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of network load balancing and link aggregation.
- Review disaster recovery plans and procedures for network components.
- Evaluate network monitoring tools and their configurations.
- Verify that appropriate logging is enabled on network devices.
- Assess the retention and analysis of network logs.
- Review incident response procedures based on network events or anomalies.
- Evaluate user access controls and permissions.
- Verify the implementation of strong authentication mechanisms (e.g., multi-factor authentication).
- Assess the usage of network access control technologies (e.g., IEEE 802.1X).
- Review network user account management practices, including password policies and account lifecycle management.
- Assess the accuracy and completeness of network documentation.
- Review change management processes for network configurations.
- Verify the implementation of change control procedures to minimize unauthorized changes.
- Evaluate the version control and backup of network device configurations.
- Verify that regular backups of critical network components are performed.
- Assess the integrity and completeness of network backups.
- Test the restoration process for network devices and configurations.
- Evaluate the implementation of off-site or cloud backups for disaster recovery purposes.
- Review network compliance with relevant industry standards (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR).
- Assess the implementation of security controls and measures required by applicable regulations.
- Verify that network auditing and monitoring practices align with compliance requirements.
Congratulations! You've made it to the end of our step-by-step guide to network auditing. By now, you should have a better understanding of what a network audit is, why it's important, and how you can go about conducting one.
A network audit is extremely important to the health of your network. It gives you a complete overview of your network's current health, and helps you plan for network optimizations and updates for the future. Remember, a network audit is not a one-and-done task. It's an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring, measurement, and optimization. But with the right tools and techniques, you can keep your network running smoothly and avoid any unexpected surprises.
So go forth, auditors, and uncover the secrets of your network! With a little detective work and some proactive maintenance, you can ensure that your network remains secure, reliable, and high-performing for years to come.
As your business grows, it’s important to make sure that your network can keep up.