Automated patching – just what the doctor ordered
The solution to patching the practice’s systems and addressing other security issues was to install GFI LanGuard from GFI Software, with whom Carruthers has had a long relationship since.
Carruthers found GFI LanGuard without much fuss. “An Internet search seemed to identify GFI LanGuard as a good product for my needs,” he recalled.
The result? A safer, more efficient network. “All obvious patches and vulnerabilities are now identified and actively managed in a time efficient manner. Two PCs had Windows Update turned off completely for almost two years and on another two PCs, antivirus software had stopped updating its files six months earlier,” Dr. Carruthers said. “In particular, Java and heavily used Adobe products such as Acrobat, Reader and Flash Player were all basically hopelessly out of date. We also had multiple browsers installed. There was no business need for this, and I removed all browsers except IE, which is being updated through Windows Update.”
As part of his cleanup process, he went through all the machines with a fine-tooth comb. “I did some aggressive housekeeping on all PCs, removing unused software completely, and updating all required software to the current release. I have probably reduced installed programs by 50% or more. I now know exactly what software is on each machine and GFI keeps them up to date. I also now have a list of all essential software needed to be installed on any new PCs,” Dr. Carruthers explained.
In fact, patching Java, Adobe tools, and even Apple applications is increasingly critical – and represents a threat greater or equal to Microsoft Windows, IE and other Microsoft tools. Carruthers’ actions, along with multi-platform patching from GFI LanGuard, makes for a simpler and safer network.
Despite Dr. Carruthers’ active role, GFI LanGuard is an essential safety component – making broad and in-depth patching possible. Much of this is focused around Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday where once a month the software giant releases patches and updates. “Doing the software maintenance manually on a monthly basis to 12 PCs would be very expensive if contracted out, and very time-consuming if not. Basically, the maintenance was not, and could not be done at all until GFI LanGuard was installed,” Dr. Carruthers said.
The GFI LanGuard experience
GFI LanGuard indeed makes the Bayview Medical Clinic network simpler, but how easy is it to use? “There is a learning curve, but GFI LanGuard is easy to use once you have used it for a while,” Dr. Carruthers said. “LanGuard is pretty easy to install. I installed the software on my own PC, and GFI LanGuard installed the “Agents” on the other networked PCs. This only requires knowing the Admin username and password for each PC on the network. The most time consuming part is dealing with all the software issues identified. We have 12 computers that have been in use for anywhere between one to five years with little ongoing patch management,” he said. “I can now efficiently maintain the entire network of 12 PCs with a quick login from home every 2-4 weeks. Pushing upgrades on the weekends or evenings is very easy while the office is closed.”
Bayview’s end users don’t experience any disruptions in their workday either. “There are virtually no visible workflow changes to the users and no more “Adobe Flash Player needs to be updated” messages! We have a business need to keep Java up to date and GFI now does this through the remediate module,” he said.
When there are technical issues with GFI LanGuard, the fixes are straightforward and repaired by GFI and Dr. Carruthers working in tandem. “I have been using TeamViewer (remote control software) to provide remote access to the office computers. GFI finds the problem, and TeamViewer gives me easy access to fix it, either through the remediate module on the GFI LanGuard Server (my office PC), or directly to the other PCs as needed,” Dr. Carruthers said.
A little GFI LanGuard advice
While GFI LanGuard is a cost-effective solution, saves time, and is easy to keep running smooth, there are still two areas Carruthers has advice on. “The first support incident may be quite opaque for a small business with no dedicated IT technicians. You cannot just phone up GFI Languard and describe your problem over the phone,” Dr. Carruthers explained.
He added that to report an incident, “you need to run the GFI Languard troubleshooting tool on your GFI Languard server/PC, find the file produced, compress the file to a .zip file (WinZip and other utilities), name the file following GFI guidelines, and then upload the file via FTP to GFI Languard.” (http://www.gfi.com/support/technical-support-form/log-file-submission-instructions).
“It took me quite a while to complete each and every one of these steps the first time. I have not needed to compress a file or use FTP for many years. Many clients who could benefit from GFI Languard will have never heard of ‘zip files’ or ‘ftp.’ Once you struggle through the first ticket, submitting the second ticket should take minutes, not hours. The good news is I have only had to submit one ticket in four months.”
“Once I successfully completed the steps above, it was very easy to work with GFI by email to resolve the problem. I suspect GFI would probably help clients out with this process if they got stuck.”
The other nitpick relates to technical information.
“I would like to see a much bigger and better organized knowledge base of FAQs on the GFI website. For many issues, it would be much easier and quicker if you could find a quick FAQ solution, rather than having to submit a support ticket.” he concluded.
There is a support advantage to having multiple tools from a single vendor -- this is the notion of a single neck to choke. “The support is good. If I contact a GFI support employee, I can ask another question about anther product,” Jakubowski concluded.
Disclaimer: All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. To the best of our knowledge, all details were correct at the time of publishing; this information is subject to change without notice.