TDi Technologies: Pioneering Privileged Access

Bill Johnson, CEO & Founder The global demand for meeting the overwhelming IT infrastructure needs has always been challenging. In order to reduce the cost and time involved in managing IT infrastructure, today companies need a technology-enabled system that ensures security and effectively aligns infrastructure. Unlike the traditional approach to IT infrastructure management, ConsoleWorks from TDi Technologies enables companies with complex systems to simplify operations required to monitor and manage IT systems. Encompassing the full spectrum of the IT enterprise, TX-based TDi Technologies has built a solution which can meet the most rigorous challenges of large, complex, heterogeneous, and often geographically distributed IT infrastructures.

“We have created a portal for privileged access that allows our customers to pre-decide what information any user within their system is allowed to see,” points out Bill Johnson, CEO and Founder, TDi Technologies. By collecting and managing all relevant information from a customer’s system, TDi enables them to decrease their operating costs, improve service quality, meet compliance challenges, secure privileged interfaces to protect their businesses, and seamlessly incorporate new virtualization technologies. Over the last 25 years, TDi has built a globally satisfied clientele of industry leaders in the government, healthcare, utilities, finance, and telecommunications sector.

The Genius behind ConsoleWorks

The company’s flagship technology, ConsoleWorks, serves as the center of all IT security and operations. ConsoleWorks takes a unique bottoms-up approach, when laying down the ground rules, with managing privileged access to devices as the starting point. ConsoleWorks provides authentication, authorization, and communication to the end-points. Working with each customer, TDi helps to establish and assign security roles providing least privilege access control, for the various privileged users, to the critical infrastructure. Those privileged users include administrators of systems, databases, network, or even 3rd party vendors and integrators. “The challenge of privileged people connecting to a business network and interacting with machines, applications, and services that they’re not supposed to interact with, but they have the ability to get to it, leaves the floor open for them to potentially become bad actors if they choose to,” notes Johnson.

TDi’s patented technology prevents these threats from occurring through automation, optimization, monitoring, and control. Their full-blown solution, for both in-band and out-of-band operations, has the ability to properly monitor and manage thousands of devices or connections per ConsoleWorks server. “Since ConsoleWorks sits between the privileged user and the device to which he is interacting, ConsoleWorks is able to provide KEYSTROKE level monitoring, logging, and auditing of all user input and the resulting response from the device, whether the device is running, stopped or in single user, administrative or maintenance mode,” states Johnson.

Throughout the process, TDi completes a full audit on all the personnel involved and responsible for the system. “By authenticating through ConsoleWorks, we can then decide what information a user is allowed to see or even control the commands he can execute.

Since ConsoleWorks has this unique ability to access the devices without installing software on those devices, our customers asked us to use that capability to automate the collection of device configuration data. While ConsoleWorks has the ability to collect any information about a device, the typical data that we are asked to collect includes account information, open ports, listening services, software security patch, and firmware versions.

ConsoleWorks is able to provide KEYSTROKE level monitoring, logging, and auditing of all user input and the resulting response from the device, whether the device is running, stopped or in single user, administrative or maintenance mode

ConsoleWorks has the ability, by using a set of commands, native to a particular device, to collect that device’s configuration. By using native commands to collect the information, we don’t need to worry about APIs changing or installing software that then has to be managed on an end-point,” explains Johnson.

Using this method, ConsoleWorks catches any configuration changes by comparing the current device configuration against a pre-established baseline. If differences are detected, ConsoleWorks then automates the notification of those changes to the appropriate person for investigation. Automating these configuration checks has a number of benefits to our customers:

• Quickly identify any changes that have security impact— creating new accounts, opening ports, security patches status not known
• Enables the configuration checks to be automated—many man-hours are spent by doing it manually
• Ensures that the same things are checked all the time and more frequently—because of the manual process, they were either done infrequently or not at all

ConsoleWorks also creates reports in real-time and maintains a history documenting how a device’s configuration has changed over time.

Keeping Businesses In-tact

One case of TDi’s solution integration includes a customer that had several hundred routers in their network, hence wanted to achieve consistency in terms all of the routers’ firewall settings. All subordinate routers were to follow a single set of settings from a master router. After running a check on their current configuration, the end result shockingly revealed four of their routers with different settings.

The problem at hand was marked by no documentation of who put those changes in, nor when they occurred. “Now, they use ConsoleWorks to check the configurations on a regular basis,” notes Johnson. “Every time we collect this information or run queries, that information stays in our log files.” This allows ConsoleWorks to run configuration checks on a schedule and compare the system’s current configuration with a configuration from any previous session to understand in what way the machine looks different and determine which individuals caused these changes.

Because all log-in information can be tracked, TDi is able to run a configuration check in the background, once those privileged actors disconnect from a device, to ensure the businesses are kept in-tact. “We want to know who’s touching what machine and the changes that were made during that working session,” asserts the TDi CEO.

“With respect to logging, businesses spent a lot of money trying to aggregate log files from a large number of disparate devices to figure out what’s going on in their world,” states Johnson, “and there’s a natural aggregation that occurs by using our product that provides context around those log files— assisting in providing context to the log files with a common time stamp for identifying which came first.
When monitoring those log files, ConsoleWorks can recognize message patterns and their meanings, based on vendor documentation that has been embedded into the ConsoleWorks product. When one of these Events occurs on a monitored device, ConsoleWorks knows how to qualify, quantify, and measure it.” The information that ConsoleWorks knows about these Intelligent Events may include a recommendation or steps that need to be taken to remediate a problem. This assists in the easier handling of reoccurring problems, where an administrator can draw from the knowledge base an understanding from the vendor or from a previously documented best practice resolution to the problem.

"We use standard commands, collect that data, normalize, and then implement best practices to act on it"

One such example includes a telecom client, where an employee was issued a work order to make a change on a storage controller and noticed a slight anomaly in the configurations. In doing that, he acted on his own expertise to leverage that discrepancy into better business outcomes, but, in turn, only made matters worse by overhauling the system with the new configuration input. Through the integration of ConsoleWorks, not only was the customer able to prevent similar events from happening again, but they also managed to log all configurations, changes, and incidents successfully every step of the way.”

Edging the Competition

“As a management team, we ensure the company continues to be a positive and relaxed environment for our employees, as well as a remarkable support center for our customers,” comments Johnson. TDi’s support team has been rated number one in all customer reviews. More than often, users of ConsoleWorks who move to other areas or companies purchase the technology again. “Our support has always been one of the major influencers for that.” Their out-of-the-box solution for the basic capabilities of the configuration management solution does not require much of a learning curve. The fact that they do not install software on top of the customers’ configuration in order to monitor it, but use native methods and commands to the endpoint, is where TDi excels among the competition.

Furthermore, TDi acknowledges the quality of the competition currently present in the market. With ConsoleWorks being a unified integrated platform, it allows businesses to integrate it with the competitors’ products, something the company does not run away from but rather encourages. To do so, TDi’s technology must first be able to provide a solution for secure, interactive, role-based access to the devices in order to integrate with corporate identity management solutions such as Active Directory or possibly multi-factor authentication solutions. “The goal is to rationalize the software and it takes a holistic view to create the most cost-effective solution and the perfect support system for the customer,” affirms Johnson.

Shaping the Future of ConsoleWorks

Banking on the more than 25 of industry-proven experience, TDi is laser-focused on bringing new and updated features to ConsoleWorks in the future. In acknowledgment of the myriad of actors active within their product, the CEO reveals the company is heavily investing into Big Data and business intelligence analysis to ensure that the information of all activities, changes, and tickets remains effectively accumulated and used within the ConsoleWorks framework.

Additionally, the team at TDi is working on reshaping the current user interface along with new dashboards, which will allow for even more ease of use and integration. By adding new underlying business intelligence, ConsoleWorks will become more customer-definable and help their clients’ business “have a better situational awareness, as well as security and compliance posture across their enterprise,” concludes Johnson.

TDi Technologies

Plano, TX

Bill Johnson, CEO & Founder

Provides IT security and operations solutions to help customers reduce operating costs, meet compliance requirements, and improve service delivery

TDi Technologies