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Top 4 ITIL® Best Practices

ITIL® ie. Information Technology Infrastructure Library is basically a framework which has been designed to standardize the following IT services within a business:  SelectionPlanningDelivery andMaintenance.The goal of ITIL® is to increase efficiency and achieve standardised service delivery in an organisation. The ITIL® framework focuses on ensuring that IT administrators can evolve into roles such as business service partner and not just remain back-end support. This is where the guidelines and best practices of ITIL® come into play since they align the IT department to the needs and changes within a business as it grows and evolves.What are ITIL® best practices and their benefits?ITIL® is a collection of guidelines and best practices which aid in the IT Service Management (ITSM). ITIL® considers IT as a tool which can be used for business needs. The ultimate aim of introducing ITIL® is to reduce the gap between the business - which caters to the customer needs and the IT industry. AXELOS includes inputs from IT professionals as well as their business partners around the globe in their process of compiling a list of these practices.ITIL® V4’s primary aim, therefore, is also to integrate all the phases of service and focus less on individual processes. This is where ITIL® best practices come into the picture. They work to improve many things but most important of all, they focus on aligning business needs with IT perspective. This attribute alone of the ITIL® practices fetches huge benefits. Some of the benefits that ITIL® best practices offer are as follows:Higher customer satisfactionIncreased productivityChange managementMinimal disruption of serviceSecurity managementHelp desk managementITIL® V4 release and ITSM ITIL® has gone through several revisions in its history. The gap between the IT and business aspect of an IT Service Management organization has continued to be reduced with each subsequent releases. Along with the practices, technology is a major factor which drives the whole IT industry and that makes it necessary to be included under the releases as well. ITIL® V4, the latest version of ITIL®, focuses on integrating all the latest technological frameworks to help in IT Service Management. Some of the technological advancements which are included in the latest version are as follows:Agile FrameworkLEANDevOpsMost of the curriculum included in V3 will remain same but V4 has also introduced new examinable content. Understandably, technologies alone don’t contribute to the lifecycle of a service. There are many different entities that work on different levels and all these come together to provide smooth and successful service to the customer.What are the top ITIL® best practicesThere are lots of ITIL® best practices that can help your organization, but each practice is adapted to fulfill a specific requirement. ITIL® also offers flexibility in terms that an organization has the freedom to choose which process or practice it may want to implement. It is not essential that one must employ all the practices mentioned in the volume. We have compiled four top best practices which every organization, about IT Service Management, must use in their infrastructure.1. Control of Service Performance Data: This practice aims to hold the ITSM vendors responsible for the performance issue. It encourages the client to ask the vendors the following questions:Is the application working as per the performance bars set earlier?Are the ITSM vendors holding on to all the agreements?What is the financial situation?Naturally, the answers to all these questions lie with the Service delivery data. Clients need to ask the vendors for this performance data, otherwise, they can lose visibility of it.Either your ITSM vendor has manageable workload - so as to provide you with the performance analysis - or you already have a service management tool - which you can use to check on the performances of the services. Otherwise, you need to have control and ownership of the data.There should be an uncompromising agreement between the client and the ITSM vendor about making sure that this data is made available and accessible to the client at all times. The client then, using their resources, can always analyze the data and work with the vendor to improve the service. To summarize, the client needs to hold ITSM vendors responsible for any issue that may occur.2. Bridging ITSM vendor performance to business needs: One of the highlights of the latest release of ITIL® V4 is the ability of ITIL® to bring together IT and business for better customer satisfaction. However, the procurement office - which is responsible for acquiring services in an organization - does not have any expertise in the IT aspect of a service. It cannot measure the value of IT services provided to the business because they don’t know how IT services work in a business.So, the aim is to implement a proper ITSM Vendor Management meaning, maintaining a good relationship between ITSM vendors and the business. This only helps both the sides - the business can get what they want in service and evaluate the vendors based on their service, and IT vendors who can identify what the business is asking from them and help them fulfill the requirements.3. Assign a role to monitor ITSM vendor performance:It is essential for an ITSM vendor to be held accountable for their performance. Therefore, the best practice adopted across the industry is to assign a person this role, which is the ITSM Vendor Manager. As the name suggests, the sole responsibility of this role is to manage the ITSM vendors as to the service they provide, whether they are adhering to the conditions and requirements agreed upon initially, and much more. This role would require to interact with ITSM vendors on a daily basis and therefore it is recommended that such a job should be given to someone with experience in the following domains:Finance: To fulfill the fiduciary responsibility.Business + IT: To understand service aspects from both perspectives and participate, contribute to conversations between them, it is important to be experienced in this domain.IT Delivery and Management: To monitor the delivery of service, changes, deployment, etc.Besides all these, they should also be able to reach out to legal, and procurement departments as well. This person should be a direct rapport with the Chief Information Office for better and quick outcomes on the issues. Someone with experience in Service delivery role will be most appropriate for this role.4. Partnership with ITSM Vendor: The biggest issue with clients, when dealing with the vendors, is that their expectations and requirements are always more than what the vendor really delivers. To find a solution to this major problem, Chief Information Officers must satisfy the need for someone who has the ability to hold the ITSM vendors accountable - ITSM Vendor Manager. But this time, you also need to hold the ITSM vendor accountable for the issues by quantifying the impact that the ITSM vendor manager’s decision has had on the infrastructure.If your ITSM vendor is not living up to your expectations, then it is recommended you start implementing these practices in your organization to get the most benefit out of them.ITIL® service desk best practicesIn the market, there are many solutions present which can help you increase productivity, support, delivery, and enhance other attributes of an IT Service. But most of these solutions are expensive and since ITIL® offers flexibility to an organization when they are trying to choose what to implement, a better solution to go for is ITSM Service Desk. There are two popular desks that ITIL® provides - Service Desk and Help Desk.Help Desk: IT Help Desk is a fairly affordable solution to your IT Service Management problems. Some of its key properties are:It is flexible and configurable - which helps to fine-tune your ITSM processes according to ITIL® standardsIt is highly affordableIt is a subset of Service DeskIt has been replaced by the service desk. It is old fashioned in the technical worldHelps to streamline Service request managementManages change requests automatically upon approval successesAutomated Software and Hardware asset discovery with centralized IT asset management (ITAM)As mentioned, the Help desk is considered to be old-fashioned, which is why Service Desk was introduced as an alternative which offered more solutions in a more suitable way of service.Service Desk: IT Service Desk was introduced as an evolution of IT Help Desk to a modern approach to finding solutions and fulfilling tasks in the lifecycle of an IT Service. It is primarily intended to be a contact point between end users and the IT organization. Some of its key benefits are:It is responsible not only for services - change management, request management, asset management - but also provides the entire IT.It provides streamlined support by collaborating with other functional units.Service Desk is a new solution which means, naturally, one of its aims would be to closely align IT aspect to the business needs.Problem management is done proactively to avoid any major incident occurrences.Aims to align IT vision and business closely.Service Desk, therefore, is the preferred IT Service Management go-to help. IT Service Desk most importantly has 3 tasks to do:Manage problem and incidentsManage Service requestsHandle communication with the usersAs per a compiled list of some of the best IT Service Desk practices, below are the four major best practices which every organization should follow:Customer Engagement: As the name suggests, it aims to understand what the needs of a customer are and whether the IT team is able to comprehend it and implement it eventually according to the customer’s requirements.Provide 24/7 service desk supportFollows SLAs strictly, which helps in prioritizing the issues while solving. For eg: Critical ones are solved with utmost urgency in contrast to Low priority issues which have a longer resolving time.Provide complete data, ask all questions etc. during one engagement, rather frequent call-backs or engagement.Service Desk Management: This is basically a supervisor role, looking over day-to-day as well as long term issues.With the help of dashboards, data, and reports, it helps in analyzing the data and asks for correction before it explodes into an issue.To completely implement SLAs and make sure that escalations and handoff processes are understood by everyone in the hierarchy.Generate a report using IT Service Metrics. This report can help in increasing productivity or some other performance related issueUse of technology to Support: To support the IT Service Desk, technology can be used to streamline their processes and increase their productivity.Common issues which require specific steps for a fix can be automated.Service desk software can be used to facilitate and record interactions between requestor and client.Service Flow workflow capabilities can be implemented to help with processes like escalations, or hand-off.Knowledge Management: You should manage knowledge in such a way that it is accessible by all and at the same time provides security as well.Through Frequently Asked Questions, even end-users can access the data and learn from it rather than going back-and-through between them using an Agent.These knowledge records can be monitored and destroyed as per convenience.When an organization implements an IT Service desk, it would be awarded the following benefits:Cost-effectiveness: With the help of a properly staffed team which is well-managed, much of the IT work can be handled easily. Subject Matter Experts can be allocated work which is of value to the company instead of low priority or low-value tasks.Place for user’s sentiment analysis: As the Service Desk is the focal point between the users and the service provider, the business is able to understand the needs of the customers and enable the IT Vendors to implement the changes according to the needs of a vast customer base.Early warning system: An IT Service desk can also be used as a monitoring tool. This helps when the magnitude of incidents and requests is too high. If in such an organization, a major incident occurs, then a large number of users can get directly affected. This is where this monitoring system comes in, as it aims to identify and determine the issue with an early warning system and hopefully fix it before it causes any disruption to the service.

Top 4 ITIL® Best Practices

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Top 4 ITIL® Best Practices

ITIL® ie. Information Technology Infrastructure Library is basically a framework which has been designed to standardize the following IT services within a business:  

  • Selection
  • Planning
  • Delivery and
  • Maintenance.

The goal of ITIL® is to increase efficiency and achieve standardised service delivery in an organisation. The ITIL® framework focuses on ensuring that IT administrators can evolve into roles such as business service partner and not just remain back-end support. This is where the guidelines and best practices of ITIL® come into play since they align the IT department to the needs and changes within a business as it grows and evolves.

What are ITIL® best practices and their benefits?

Benefits of ITIL best practices

ITIL® is a collection of guidelines and best practices which aid in the IT Service Management (ITSM). ITIL® considers IT as a tool which can be used for business needs. The ultimate aim of introducing ITIL® is to reduce the gap between the business - which caters to the customer needs and the IT industry. AXELOS includes inputs from IT professionals as well as their business partners around the globe in their process of compiling a list of these practices.

ITIL® V4’s primary aim, therefore, is also to integrate all the phases of service and focus less on individual processes. This is where ITIL® best practices come into the picture. They work to improve many things but most important of all, they focus on aligning business needs with IT perspective. This attribute alone of the ITIL® practices fetches huge benefits. Some of the benefits that ITIL® best practices offer are as follows:

  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Increased productivity
  • Change management
  • Minimal disruption of service
  • Security management
  • Help desk management

ITIL® V4 release and ITSM 

ITIL® has gone through several revisions in its history. The gap between the IT and business aspect of an IT Service Management organization has continued to be reduced with each subsequent releases. Along with the practices, technology is a major factor which drives the whole IT industry and that makes it necessary to be included under the releases as well. ITIL® V4, the latest version of ITIL®, focuses on integrating all the latest technological frameworks to help in IT Service Management. Some of the technological advancements which are included in the latest version are as follows:

  • Agile Framework
  • LEAN
  • DevOps

Most of the curriculum included in V3 will remain same but V4 has also introduced new examinable content. Understandably, technologies alone don’t contribute to the lifecycle of a service. There are many different entities that work on different levels and all these come together to provide smooth and successful service to the customer.

What are the top ITIL® best practices

Top ITIL best practice

There are lots of ITIL® best practices that can help your organization, but each practice is adapted to fulfill a specific requirement. ITIL® also offers flexibility in terms that an organization has the freedom to choose which process or practice it may want to implement. It is not essential that one must employ all the practices mentioned in the volume. We have compiled four top best practices which every organization, about IT Service Management, must use in their infrastructure.

1. Control of Service Performance Data

This practice aims to hold the ITSM vendors responsible for the performance issue. It encourages the client to ask the vendors the following questions:

  • Is the application working as per the performance bars set earlier?
  • Are the ITSM vendors holding on to all the agreements?
  • What is the financial situation?

Naturally, the answers to all these questions lie with the Service delivery data. Clients need to ask the vendors for this performance data, otherwise, they can lose visibility of it.

Either your ITSM vendor has manageable workload - so as to provide you with the performance analysis - or you already have a service management tool - which you can use to check on the performances of the services. Otherwise, you need to have control and ownership of the data.

There should be an uncompromising agreement between the client and the ITSM vendor about making sure that this data is made available and accessible to the client at all times. The client then, using their resources, can always analyze the data and work with the vendor to improve the service. To summarize, the client needs to hold ITSM vendors responsible for any issue that may occur.

2. Bridging ITSM vendor performance to business needs: 

One of the highlights of the latest release of ITIL® V4 is the ability of ITIL® to bring together IT and business for better customer satisfaction. However, the procurement office - which is responsible for acquiring services in an organization - does not have any expertise in the IT aspect of a service. It cannot measure the value of IT services provided to the business because they don’t know how IT services work in a business.

So, the aim is to implement a proper ITSM Vendor Management meaning, maintaining a good relationship between ITSM vendors and the business. This only helps both the sides - the business can get what they want in service and evaluate the vendors based on their service, and IT vendors who can identify what the business is asking from them and help them fulfill the requirements.

3. Assign a role to monitor ITSM vendor performance:

It is essential for an ITSM vendor to be held accountable for their performance. Therefore, the best practice adopted across the industry is to assign a person this role, which is the ITSM Vendor Manager. As the name suggests, the sole responsibility of this role is to manage the ITSM vendors as to the service they provide, whether they are adhering to the conditions and requirements agreed upon initially, and much more. This role would require to interact with ITSM vendors on a daily basis and therefore it is recommended that such a job should be given to someone with experience in the following domains:

  • Finance: To fulfill the fiduciary responsibility.
  • Business + IT: To understand service aspects from both perspectives and participate, contribute to conversations between them, it is important to be experienced in this domain.
  • IT Delivery and Management: To monitor the delivery of service, changes, deployment, etc.

Besides all these, they should also be able to reach out to legal, and procurement departments as well. This person should be a direct rapport with the Chief Information Office for better and quick outcomes on the issues. Someone with experience in Service delivery role will be most appropriate for this role.

4. Partnership with ITSM Vendor: 

The biggest issue with clients, when dealing with the vendors, is that their expectations and requirements are always more than what the vendor really delivers. To find a solution to this major problem, Chief Information Officers must satisfy the need for someone who has the ability to hold the ITSM vendors accountable - ITSM Vendor Manager. But this time, you also need to hold the ITSM vendor accountable for the issues by quantifying the impact that the ITSM vendor manager’s decision has had on the infrastructure.

If your ITSM vendor is not living up to your expectations, then it is recommended you start implementing these practices in your organization to get the most benefit out of them.

ITIL® service desk best practices

ITIL® service desk best practices

In the market, there are many solutions present which can help you increase productivity, support, delivery, and enhance other attributes of an IT Service. But most of these solutions are expensive and since ITIL® offers flexibility to an organization when they are trying to choose what to implement, a better solution to go for is ITSM Service Desk. There are two popular desks that ITIL® provides - Service Desk and Help Desk.

Help Desk: IT Help Desk is a fairly affordable solution to your IT Service Management problems. Some of its key properties are:

  • It is flexible and configurable - which helps to fine-tune your ITSM processes according to ITIL® standards
  • It is highly affordable
  • It is a subset of Service Desk
  • It has been replaced by the service desk. It is old fashioned in the technical world
  • Helps to streamline Service request management
  • Manages change requests automatically upon approval successes
  • Automated Software and Hardware asset discovery with centralized IT asset management (ITAM)

As mentioned, the Help desk is considered to be old-fashioned, which is why Service Desk was introduced as an alternative which offered more solutions in a more suitable way of service.

Service Desk: IT Service Desk was introduced as an evolution of IT Help Desk to a modern approach to finding solutions and fulfilling tasks in the lifecycle of an IT Service. It is primarily intended to be a contact point between end users and the IT organization. Some of its key benefits are:

  • It is responsible not only for services - change management, request management, asset management - but also provides the entire IT.
  • It provides streamlined support by collaborating with other functional units.
  • Service Desk is a new solution which means, naturally, one of its aims would be to closely align IT aspect to the business needs.
  • Problem management is done proactively to avoid any major incident occurrences.
  • Aims to align IT vision and business closely.

Service Desk, therefore, is the preferred IT Service Management go-to help. IT Service Desk most importantly has 3 tasks to do:

  • Manage problem and incidents
  • Manage Service requests
  • Handle communication with the users

As per a compiled list of some of the best IT Service Desk practices, below are the four major best practices which every organization should follow:

  • Customer Engagement: As the name suggests, it aims to understand what the needs of a customer are and whether the IT team is able to comprehend it and implement it eventually according to the customer’s requirements.
    • Provide 24/7 service desk support
    • Follows SLAs strictly, which helps in prioritizing the issues while solving. For eg: Critical ones are solved with utmost urgency in contrast to Low priority issues which have a longer resolving time.
    • Provide complete data, ask all questions etc. during one engagement, rather frequent call-backs or engagement.

  • Service Desk Management: This is basically a supervisor role, looking over day-to-day as well as long term issues.
    • With the help of dashboards, data, and reports, it helps in analyzing the data and asks for correction before it explodes into an issue.
    • To completely implement SLAs and make sure that escalations and handoff processes are understood by everyone in the hierarchy.
    • Generate a report using IT Service Metrics. This report can help in increasing productivity or some other performance related issue

  • Use of technology to Support: To support the IT Service Desk, technology can be used to streamline their processes and increase their productivity.
    • Common issues which require specific steps for a fix can be automated.
    • Service desk software can be used to facilitate and record interactions between requestor and client.
    • Service Flow workflow capabilities can be implemented to help with processes like escalations, or hand-off.

  • Knowledge Management: You should manage knowledge in such a way that it is accessible by all and at the same time provides security as well.
    • Through Frequently Asked Questions, even end-users can access the data and learn from it rather than going back-and-through between them using an Agent.
    • These knowledge records can be monitored and destroyed as per convenience.

When an organization implements an IT Service desk, it would be awarded the following benefits:

  • Cost-effectiveness: With the help of a properly staffed team which is well-managed, much of the IT work can be handled easily. Subject Matter Experts can be allocated work which is of value to the company instead of low priority or low-value tasks.

  • Place for user’s sentiment analysis: As the Service Desk is the focal point between the users and the service provider, the business is able to understand the needs of the customers and enable the IT Vendors to implement the changes according to the needs of a vast customer base.

  • Early warning system: An IT Service desk can also be used as a monitoring tool. This helps when the magnitude of incidents and requests is too high. If in such an organization, a major incident occurs, then a large number of users can get directly affected. This is where this monitoring system comes in, as it aims to identify and determine the issue with an early warning system and hopefully fix it before it causes any disruption to the service.
KnowledgeHut

KnowledgeHut

Author

KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.
Website : https://www.knowledgehut.com

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Launching a career in IT takes much more than just college education. You need to be tech-trained and have one of the top IT certifications. Wondering why you need such certifications? Jobs in the IT domain require specific skill sets and having such certifications validate your ability to perform the job. Being certified also works in your favor when you are looking for a job for the first time or need a job change since the hiring managers would know you possess the skills to succeed. From security and networking to cloud computing and virtualization, there exists a wide range of IT certifications that would help you to earn a fat paycheck and launch your dream IT career, or take your career a few notches above in case you are already employed. However, not every certification would help. You need to find the ones that will give you the optimal return on your money. 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Launching a career in IT takes much more than just... Read More

5 Trends Influencing Cloud Computing In 2019

Cloud security was the biggest concern of 53% of the webmasters that participated in the giving birth to an important 2017 cloud computing trend, i.e., improved cloud security. The cloud providers like Google, Microsoft, AWS etc., have started coming up with advanced threat monitoring tools and other robust identity management functionalities to increase the security within every layer of cloud infrastructure. This improved cloud security trend would not just reinforce the trust of organization on cloud computing but also transform the way cloud security was being operated over the years.   Like improved cloud security with many cloud benefits, there are many other trends that are influencing cloud computing in 2017. These trends are changing the way cloud computing was being used as well as provided by the organizations and cloud providers respectively in the yesteryears. A clear understanding of these trends is imperative to gain a competitive edge in terms of speed, agility as well cost savings. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump straight to the five trends that are influencing cloud computing in 2017.  Hyperconvergence The hype around hyperconvergence in the realm of cloud computing has increased drastically in 2017. A gradual shift can be seen to hyperconverged cloud infrastructure aka HCI that has provided ease in the process of managing integrated technologies with the help of a common toolset. It will allow organizations to leverage the already integrated storage resources that will ease power computation for faster cloud implementation. Organizations that seek to build their own private cloud resources would be turning their attention towards hyperconverged cloud infrastructure that offers the support of virtualization at present.  Hybrid Cloud Management Due to the increased need for flexibility and swift information sharing, an orchestration between the private cloud and public cloud services has surfaced in the cloud computing domain. This amalgamation of public and private clouds is called a hybrid cloud. The need for effective management of hybrid cloud has given birth to cloud service brokers in 2017. They are responsible for not just defining all the hybrid services but also securing and managing them. The rise of these hybrid cloud manager aka cloud service brokers would be a big influence in the way cloud computing management worked earlier.  Enterprise Cloud Computing A dramatic rise in enterprise cloud computing has been witnessed in the first semester of this year. Instead of depending on a single cloud for their different information technology and business needs, companies are now diversifying their approach to multiple cloud models. Enterprise cloud computing is allowing businesses to make contracts with different cloud providers irrespective of them being private, public or hybrid. They are now getting their services hosted on different platforms that offer the most appropriate solution to their needs.  Cloud-Run Business Apps At present, the share of cloud-run business apps is 70%, which is gradually increasing with the expansion of enterprise cloud computing. By the end of 2020, more than 90% of the organizations in the world would have cloud-run apps for their business. Increased productivity, enterprise mobility, and user-driven customization are some of the core drivers for business apps towards cloud computing. Cloud adoption has accelerated in 2017 and would continue to do so in the coming years.   Cloud Containers On The Rise Cloud containers like Linux are used by top companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc., and are becoming a rage among other organizations too. They offer a more secure, streamlined and simplistic implementation methods for each and every infrastructure requirement. Cloud container is one of the most relevant developments for the developers as it enables the packaging of applications in a more standardized way. It also facilitates the development of various micro services that’ll provide ease in security, monitoring, storing and networking etc. While cloud computing is not a new technology for businesses, the trends discussed above have given it a makeover and transformed the way it is being used by businesses in 2017. All the five trends, i.e., hyperconvergence, hybrid cloud, enterprise cloud, cloud-run business apps and cloud containers have led to a continuous expansion of cloud computing throughout the first two quarters of this year and would continue to influence cloud computing in days to come.  We have been able to cover only a small part of what Cloud Computing has to offer. There is so much more to learn. You can move on to the AWS certification course of KnowledgeHut that will help you prepare for the AWS certification exams.
5 Trends Influencing Cloud Computing In 2019

Cloud security was the biggest concern of 53% of t... Read More

Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch

Despite the appealing title, ethical hacking or in more technical terms, “Penetration Testing” is not something you can master by reading an article or doing a crash course. There is much more to ethical hacking! In this article, we would have a look at what hacking is, the different types of hackers, steps involved in a hacking or penetration testing activity including common tools and techniques, how the industry looks at ethical hacking and the common certifications related to hacking. Before we jump into the details, let us understand what a vulnerability is, because we would be using this term again and again. Vulnerability is any loophole or a weakness in the system that could be exploited by a hacker. What is hacking and ethical hacking? To understand hacking, let us first understand what a hacker does. Whenever we think of a hacker, we imagine a guy with a hood, sitting in a dark room, having multiple computer screens in front of him and typing something at a blazing speed! We hate to burst your bubble, but most hackers do not fit that preconceived stereotype! A computer hacker is a person with deep domain expertise in computer systems, who is well versed in various methods of overcoming defense mechanisms by exploiting vulnerabilities in a computer system or network. A hacker could be financially or politically motivated or could be working with an organization to help them strengthen their infrastructure. Hacking refers to the activities that can overpower/derail the security mechanisms of digital devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and even entire networks. It exploits the vulnerabilities present in the system or network to gain unauthorized access to confidential information. Hacking could be for personal benefit or with malicious intent. However, in ethical hacking, the hacker exploits the vulnerability, gains access to the data, but never alters, deletes or uses it for personal or professional gain. The hacker, in this case, will disclose the vulnerability to the owner of the system with a “Proof of Concept” (PoC) and request the owner to get the vulnerability remediated. Generally, ethical hackers have explicit permission to exploit the target from the owner. Who are the different types of hackers? Hackers can be generally categorized into three types based on the kind of work they do and the intent behind their hacking. Black Hat Hackers – These are hackers who attempt to bypass security mechanisms to gain unauthorized access with a malicious intent. Generally, these hackers work with the intent of financial gain and/or causing damage to the target. They may be individuals, self-motivated groups (also known as hacktivists who aim to bring political or social change) or politically motivated groups (state sponsored hackers). White Hat Hackers – These are professionals generally working with or for a company to help strengthen its digital security systems. The white hat hacker has explicit permission from the system or the information owner to attack the system. The intent here is to fix potential vulnerabilities before the black hat hackers could exploit them. Grey Hat Hackers – These individuals operate either as   white hat hackers or black hat hackers, hence the nomenclature. What are the steps involved in hacking? Let us take a deeper dive into ethical hacking and understand the steps involved. Throughout this section, we will look at the steps involved in ethical hacking, and some commonly used tools and techniques which hackers generally use. To illustrate our explanation, let us assume an attacker, Mr. X is targeting an organization TaxiCompany Inc. 1. Reconnaissance or Foot-printing – As per the Oxford dictionary, reconnaissance means, “the activity of getting information about an area for military purposes, using soldiers, planes, etc.”. Similarly, in hacking, reconnaissance means gathering information about your target. This information includes IP address ranges, Network, DNS Records, Websites, or people working with the organization. So, in this step, Mr. X would try to find the details of the key people working for TaxiCompany Inc., its website, etc. Reconnaissance could be active or passive in nature. In active foot printing, Mr. X would directly be scanning the network of TaxiCompany, or its websites using various tools. In passive foot printing, the Mr. X would not directly interact with any infrastructure or person. He would rather look at publicly available information from social media, public websites, etc. Commonly used tools/techniques for reconnaissance:  Who Is: Who is lookup tells you details about the website, the owner, contact number of the owner, and the address where the website is registered? You can simply visit who.is and enter the domain you wish to search for. NMAP: NMAP or the Network Map is a tool widely used for recon and scanning. Hackers can use this tool to find details like IP range, active hosts, open ports, etc. A simple command is nmap to find active hosts is “nmap -sn 192.168.1.1-100”. This command will find all active hosts in the provided IP range. Social Engineering: This is a technique, whereby the attacker engages directly or indirectly with the staff of the target organization and manipulates them psychologically to reveal confidential information. Some other tools which are used for footprinting include social media sites, Nessus, Acunetix, lullar.com 2. Scanning – Once Mr. X has some basic information about the TaxiCompany, he would start to collect in-depth information which could help him penetrate the network and access confidential information. Mr. X is most likely to use port scanners, sweepers and vulnerability scanners of different types. Mr. X could now be targeting the website or the network of the organization. For websites, using scanners like Nessus and Acunetix could give loads of information about the server where the website is hosted, open ports, server version, hosting platform, etc. In case of a network, network mapping and scanning tools will help Mr. X understand the active hosts, services (ports) running on them and with some intense scans, the OS running on the active hosts and even the vulnerabilities present! Kali Linux is a distribution of Linux operating system which is widely used by hackers around the globe for hacking and penetration testing. It contains almost every tool one would need for various steps of hacking. NMAP, wireshark, ncap, metasploit, etc. are pre-loaded in Kali Linux. Now based on the information gathered in the scanning phase, Mr. X can now easily look for vulnerabilities in the OS or the hardware using databases like NVD or CVE. Commonly used tools/techniques for scanning: Apart from NMAP, the below tools are used to perform vulnerability scanning: Nessus: The most famous vulnerability scanner from Tenable, it has 100s of plugins which allows you to make sure all vulnerabilities and misconfigurations are identified. Acunetix: Acunetix is known for its features and capabilities for web application scanning. 3. Gaining Access – Now Mr. X knows the network, active hosts, services running, details of the operating system and the vulnerabilities present. Next, Mr. X would gain access to the assets of TaxiCompany. Mr. X now has several options to penetrate the network. He can send a “Phishing Mail” to some key people (contacted using social engineering) and trick them into clicking a malicious link (and seek username and password). Alternately, he could try tricking them into downloading a malicious attachment and installing a keylogger to get all the keystrokes. This is a fairly easy task. There are certain fake-mailers like zmail or emkei.cz which allow you to send email to anyone using any email ID as the source email. Emkei is a very popular and useful tool for sending fake email and running phishing campaigns. One can design a mail looking exactly like the original one from the same email ID and trick someone into clicking or downloading something. Designing a phishing page or creating a malicious file is also possible using “Metasploit”. Metasploit allows you to create an exploit and using msfvenom (or any similar tool) you can attach this exploit to an innocent looking pdf or excel file! Once the target user inside TaxiCompany opens this attachment, Mr. X gets the meterpreter shell and can now access almost everything on the target machine. Mr. X has now successfully gained the access of a system within TaxiCompany. Now he is free to navigate the system and the network to get the information he is looking for or infect more devices! Commonly used tools/techniques for gaining access: Kali Linux: A fully loaded operating system with all the tools starting from wireshark to Metasploit to burp suite, it contains everything! Phishing: A technique where the users are lured into clicking or downloading something on their computers. It is also possible by phone calls; a common example is fraudsters pretending to be from Bank and asking card details and OTP. 4. Maintaining Access – Once Mr. X has gained access; he would probably like to secure that access or create another one to ensure that he has a persistent access to that machine. This could be done by using Trojans, Rootkits and backdoors. This is generally done to ensure that more information could be gained or to launch attacks using this machine. In a case where attacker controls a machine and uses it to launch further attacks, the machine is said to be a bot. An attacker uses several of these bots, called ‘botnet’, to launch attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) wherein thousands of requests are sent to a server at a time, potentially consuming all the bandwidth and forcing the legitimate traffic to drop. 5. Covering Tracks – Now Mr. X has the access to the TaxiCompany’s confidential information and one of the computer systems. He now wants to make sure that he is not caught! This is generally done by corrupting or deleting the logs. While this is done at the end, some precautions need to be taken from the onset, such as using a Virtual Private Network or a VPN. VPN is a tool which encrypts any data between the source and the destination, hence making it very difficult to intercept the data. Also, VPN ensures that your actual public IP address is not visible to the target. There is always a dummy IP address which is visible to the target. So even if someone gets to know the IP of the attacker, that would actually be only the IP address of the VPN service provider! Some common free VPN tools are Hide my Ass, Nord VPN and Express VPN. How does the industry view ethical hacking? Ethical hacking is not only about CTF, HTB and bug bounties. It is much more than that. These days every company hires ethical hackers to make sure that their network, applications and data are secure from cyberattacks. Penetration testers are highly paid within an organization and they play a key role in identifying the security vulnerabilities and helping to fix them. There are various sub domains for ethical hacking which include mobile security, web application security, network penetration testing, API security and system security. Certifications related to ethical hacking If you want to pursue a career in Cyber Security, or to be more precise, in ethical hacking, having a credential is helpful. It affirms your prowess in cyber security and gives you an edge over your counterparts during the hiring process. Below are a few certifications in the field of ethical hacking that are globally acknowledged: EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – The CEH, or Certified Ethical Hacker credential is the number one certification that any aspiring ethical hacker should aspire towards. The most common certification in the field of cyber security, it provides in-depth working knowledge about ethical hacking and the concepts related to it. CompTIA Security+  –  A little less technical than the CEH, CompTIA Security+ aims at imparting fundamental knowledge of security concepts and offers less focus on practical, hands-on skills. Offensive Security’s OSCP – One of the toughest and most reputed certifications in this sector that necessitates passing a 24-hour exam, it aims to test your skill set and understanding of cyber security. KnowledgeHut offers in-depth training that can help you to prep for these sought-after certification exams. Get guidance from the experts—click here to explore ways to crack these exams at your very first attempt!  
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Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch

Despite the appealing title, ethical hacking or... Read More