Computer monitor space with multiple data screens showing system health

Maintaining Security by Monitoring System Health

Finding the right balance between security and performance should be the building block of every computer system architecture. Comprehensive visibility into the state of computer systems is the backbone for understanding and maintaining a healthy system. Transparency into the utilization of endpoint resources within the infrastructure puts the organization ahead of performance issues. Monitoring computer system health helps maintain the optimal performance of servers and ensures applications run smoothly. This way, system administrators can easily spot and fix issues in real time before they get out of hand.

A good way to gather metrics is by using a monitoring solution. Every endpoint in a network generates metric data about its inner workings. The provided data gives information about the endpoint resource usage, user activity, and much more. System administrators can collect, aggregate, index, analyze and visualize data with the aid of a monitoring solution. This monitoring data helps organizations properly monitor and maintain the health of all deployments in their infrastructure.

This blog post identifies some basic concepts of monitoring system health in an IT infrastructure. We will discuss why monitoring is important, its benefits, and some common data types users can track.

Basic monitoring concepts

There are interrelated concepts fundamental in every monitoring solution. We identify these main concepts below:

  1. Metrics: Primarily, determining the right metrics to monitor is the starting point for building a solid baseline for tracking endpoint resources. Metrics are the structured measurements of events at regular intervals. Data is generated within an endpoint, and the gathered metrics can be forwarded to a good monitoring solution. Metrics are handy in creating awareness about the behavior and health of endpoints in a network and allow users to gauge trends and changes in overall performance.
  2. Thresholds: A threshold sets a standard to benchmark metric data. A metric standard will help users to identify performance issues and maintain endpoint stability. By setting thresholds, users are able to trigger responses to changes in metric data of endpoint resources in a network.
  3. Alerts: With alerts, users can set metric-specific criteria and get notifications when predefined conditions are met. Alerts ensure users have visibility into the computer system’s health even when users are not actively viewing dashboards. A challenging part of alerting is finding the balance between the right number of alerts generated and actual issues that require attention. This is attained by understanding the right metrics to monitor, the accepted thresholds to set, and the best notification methods for different situations.

Performance benchmarks

Monitoring solutions utilize defined metrics and alerts to track the health of endpoints in a network. We will briefly discuss five primary metrics users can track in any system.

  1. CPU Utilization: The CPU is the core component of a computer system. It is responsible for receiving, executing, and processing program instructions. It is essential to manage utilization rates and know when the CPU usage of an endpoint is reaching its saturation point. While monitoring CPU usage, users can examine system load over stipulated periods. This way, users can identify overloaded servers and redistribute load accordingly.
  2. Disk usage: The disk drive is a physical device typically designed for long-term storage. This technology allows users to read, write, modify, store, and delete data within a computer system. Every disk has an assigned storage capacity. Monitoring the disk state is a key metric that helps users to determine disk usage and prevent potential endpoint lag, data loss, and disk failure.
  3. Memory consumption: Memory is a data storage unit that is designed to hold data for immediate use. Here, instructions are stored, and information is processed. Every application makes use of memory. The way memory is used has a huge impact on the overall performance of the computer system. Application performance is negatively affected when an application has an insufficient memory state. Hence, it is important to monitor the memory state. This allows users to take the appropriate steps to ensure optimal endpoint performance and avoid data loss.
  4. Processes: Processes are instances of services and applications that are running in a computer system. Each process utilizes system resources to function. It is necessary to monitor the metrics of endpoint resources that are used by different processes. This allows users to troubleshoot issues, evaluate performance and optimize server processes.
  5. Network activity: Network traffic is the quantity of data that moves across a network, to and from an endpoint at any point in time. High network traffic can lead to an increased usage of endpoint resources like the CPU and RAM. It is necessary to monitor network activity and watch out for anomalies that may indicate possible issues such as DDOS attacks and more. This way, users can avoid poor network performance and overall network bottlenecks.

Benefits of system monitoring

Several benefits of monitoring system performance are listed below:

  1. Increased visibility: A performance threshold can be established by using the endpoint obtained metrics. With the right monitoring solution, users can easily understand metric trends and compare the current performance of an endpoint with historical performance data to detect potential relapse in performance. A good monitoring system can detect and alert organizations to issues once it occurs. This provides users with the flexibility to utilize time, knowing that they will get notified if there is a problem.
  2. Boost efficiency and provide stability: Resource monitoring allows users to manage infrastructure stability and performance regressions. Using a monitoring solution, users can optimize endpoint usage and ensure endpoints are stable and working as intended.
  3. Avoid unnecessary expenses: A functional monitoring solution will help maintain the company’s health and in turn prevent outages or failures that can cause unplanned expenses. When metrics are properly monitored, users can optimize system resources without having to waste time or money buying additional server resources that are not needed.
  4. Identify and mitigate security threats: The right monitoring solution will not only monitor the resource usage of endpoints in a network but will also ensure the security of the existing infrastructure. It will ensure that organizational infrastructures have a good security posture in addition to staying healthy by providing rich security features to keep endpoints safe.
  5. Error triage: A monitoring solution helps to identify sources of error within the infrastructure. It eliminates the guesswork involved in identifying and responding to areas that require improvement in an organization’s infrastructure.

Choosing the right monitoring solution

A healthy computer system has its resources utilized as intended under all circumstances. No organization wants their services to crash because during downtime unnecessary costs are incurred, and the reliability of the organizational services provided is tested. Having a monitoring system provides visibility into a computer network infrastructure. This way, organizations can maintain the security of their business by ensuring their infrastructure is healthy.

Wazuh is an open source unified XDR and SIEM platform that monitors endpoints, cloud services, and containers.  The Wazuh platform has multi-platform agents that are deployed on the user’s endpoints. The Wazuh agent collects security and runtime event data from the monitored endpoints and forwards them to the Wazuh server for log analysis, correlation, and alerting.

The Wazuh platform has several inbuilt modules that provide visibility into the health and security of monitored endpoints in a network. This allows easy and fast detection and remediation of anomalies and threats. Wazuh is a free security solution with a fast-growing open source community and an annual download rate that exceeds 10 million.

Wazuh provides a set of capabilities such as endpoint security, file integrity monitoring, threat intelligence, and security operations. With Wazuh, users can keep track of the health and security of existing infrastructure and stay ahead of security and performance issues.