The ability to maintain cyber resilience depends heavily on eliminating vulnerabilities long before they can become a more serious thorn in your side.
Automox’s David van Heerden led a discussion about maintaining IT operations during our Cyber Resiliency 2023 live virtual event, presented by InformationWeek and ITPro Today on August 24, 2023. This excerpt was moderated by Steve Hill.
David highlights how Automox aims to customize and simplify the automation of typical tasks.
View the entire Cyber Resilience 2023 event on-demand here.
A transcript of the video follows below. Minor edits have been made for clarity.
Steve Hill: Now, we're going to extend this topic a bit in a conversation with David van Heerden, who is the manager of IT operations at Automox, a company that has developed a cloud-native endpoint hardening and automation platform designed to remediate vulnerabilities faster than they can be weaponized. Good luck with that, my friend. Welcome, David.
David van Heerden: Hi, happy to be here.
Steve: Let's start with this first question. From what I've read, Automox focuses on mitigating some of the problems of maintaining endpoints, such as policy configuration and patch management. This takes place on many platforms, like Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. How large of a role does this play in maintaining the overall resilience of IT?
David: With IT operations – and the long list of things that they have to deal with daily in enabling supporting the business – having a tool like ours, which will take care of bringing your devices to your desired state and keeping them in that desired state, is an extremely valuable thing. This allows you to focus on what you need to deal with more on the business side.
Steve: And this is something that became more of an issue in the COVID environment, where suddenly your endpoints were no longer in one place. They were at somebody's home or a coffee shop. So, how much work did that add to the process of remaining resilient?
David: My personal experience dealing with it – going from the office to everyone working from home, and then back to hybrid – was an extremely difficult challenge at my previous organization, which is a lot of what attracted me to work at Automox. I discovered this kind of technology and how helpful it was – specifically, having a VPN-less solution where we don't have to solve the problem of complex networking. Moving to these cloud-native, dashboard type of tools was extremely helpful and vital in adapting to that.
Steve: When you look at the options that the cloud enables, the ability to be able to reach many areas and endpoints, it certainly enables a process, but also it adds a little bit of a challenge when it comes to maintaining connectivity with those systems.
The Concept Behind Automox Worklets
So, Automox adopted a community approach to building out what you call “worklets,” which are modules that look to customize and simplify the automation of common tasks. Tell me a little bit more about worklets and how the community has contributed to their use.
David: I've been so excited about worklets since joining Automox. I've been here for just about two years and a quarter, and I'm excited to be able to talk about them a lot more. I feel like they've been underutilized and unrecognized because they turn what Automox does into more than just a patching solution and a policy enforcer. Worklets are effectively a way to run code on all your endpoints. You can take one of your highly skilled system administrators or your security engineers, have them solve a problem once with the evaluation and remediation script, and then hit go.
It will run and deploy on all your devices across the globe, if need be, with scheduling as well as triggered executions. There is no limit to what you can do with worklets. So, to bring it back into our community, we've launched a whole new community. We have a dedicated team now at Automox that is watching and keeping an eye on our community by taking in that feedback.
If you don't happen to have those highly skilled scripters in your IT team, because they are expensive and difficult to retain, you can at least rely on this community and our team at Automox, where we will customize and build worklets for you and release them into our catalog to automate your environment.
Steve: That's the other interesting thing about the way communities work. Even though we may have some similar problems, ultimately there could be a lot of variables there. So, it's always nice to be able to run into somebody who has a similar problem and be able to learn from the information that they learned.
David: Yeah. Personally, even though I'm here on camera talking to everyone, I consider myself shy, especially when I don't know what I'm doing. I'm trying to solve a problem. Even just the prospect of posting something publicly like, ‘Hey, here's me. I don't know what I'm doing. I need help.’ It’s a pretty scary prospect. So, that's why I was excited when Automox was able to launch the auto AI tool.
Because with the use of a large language model, you can now ask a robot what it is. ‘I have this unique problem. Can you help me solve it? And you know, I'm trying to keep it under wraps a little bit, because I'm shy and don't want people to know I don't know.’ This non-judgmental coach and mentor can inform you of the cmdlets that you could use in PowerShell or Bash that you didn't know existed and Google couldn't surface for you.