Just when we thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, earlier this morning, BBC reported on a story that SolarWinds, a prominent provider of IT monitoring and management tools, was attacked by hackers. The extent of the damage is still to be calculated in full. Suffice to say, this caused quite the commotion, given the company’s key expertise.
It appears the target was the US government and not the corporate sector (for now at least). This fact raises the question, is it worth entrusting your information to them? The answer is both yes and no. Let’s discuss.
The Hacker Attack
Before we can deduct any reasonable conclusions, let’s first briefly discuss the attack. The hacker, or perhaps even hackers (as in plural) as some reports suggest, have managed to inject a small piece of code into the upcoming Orion software update. What this allowed the theft group to do is read various emails that originate from as high as the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments.
All this suggests that the group was targeting the U.S government, which leads to the question, is your data safe? Most likely, no. The reason being is that the Orion software was affected months before (in March 2020) this particular disclosure.
The Damage They Made
It can be hard to properly calculate the extent of the attack. Still, the official statement presented by SolarWinds indicates that out of 33,000 Orion users, roughly 18,000 of them were affected. To make things worse, the company reported that the intrusion also compromised their Microsoft Office 365 accounts.
Judging by the timeline, since March 2020, the hacker group had plenty of time to pinpoint what data is worth obtaining and what can be left. In such scenarios, the risk versus reward scheme is usually employed. It means that the thieves will most likely align the value they have at hand and directly compare it to the victim’s ability to pay up. But then again, we have no clear definition as to what will be revealed next as further investigations are being conducted by Microsoft.
What Does This Mean to You
If you’ve been using any SolarWinds product (other than Orion, that is), we can’t say definitively that you are in the safe. The attack seemed pretty sophisticated, to say the least, and all your records, customer data, corporate assets are in danger. Whilst you can wait for the whole situation to sort out, we suggest that you start looking for viable alternatives. If you have no clue where to start, the list below can prove to be useful.
Best & Most Compatible Service Desk Alternatives
Let’s be clear: not working with a service desk can result in all sorts of disruptions within your company’s workflow. And besides, there is no such thing as absolute security. There’s always a possibility that something will get hacked. Thus, there’s no reason to be afraid of the wolf. We prepared a list of platforms that offer the same or something close to what SolarWinds was offering.
Jira Service Management
Atlassian and their Jira platform have evolved over the past five years into a robust eco-system of products. Their service desk offering is often compared to SolarWinds in terms of functionality and polish. Both platforms share features, including but not limited to change & asset management, automation & prioritization of tickets, and even basic help desk functionality.
The key difference between the two platforms is that they aren’t similarly priced. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Jira is cheaper because, in reality, that is the exact opposite. SolarWinds has on-average, lower pricing. But it does lack a free tier, whereas Jira is roughly 10 to 20% more expensive.
Still, Jira is a powerful tool that will nicely fit into your current set up, regardless of your size. It has all the important service desk functions and adds on top a few of its own.
This is our second recommended alternative. Cherwell, while not as popular as Jira, is one of the most overlooked service desk tools. It is equipped to serve not only huge enterprises but smaller teams as well. The key similarities between this tool and SolarWinds stem from the fact that both give you access to a proper ticketing system, to a multi-channel tool, and even to an administration console.
Similarities don’t end there. Both SolarWinds and Cherwell divide a lot of attention to user experience and accessibility, and it shows. It doesn’t take long before you know where each toggle is located. Nor will it take you hours on end to educate your people on how to take full advantage of the new tool. It is an impressive showing. And in case you are worried that the tool is somewhat dumbed-down, it is not. Just like SolarWinds, it is intended for government use.
The difference between the two is pretty negligible as the core feature set is identical, and the pricing not that different. The company offers a free trial you can use to see how the tool works.
Third on the list is ServiceNow, and over the past three years, the platform has been growing exponentially. Over the years, the vendor not only introduced core features but added innovative systems such as the Flow Designer, which allows admins to graph and communicate work ideas and execution paths on a scale more clearly. Then there is Predictive Intelligence, which gives its users to automate mundane work through neural networks.
When it comes to similarities, both SolarWinds and ServiceNow are unique. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have access to basic service desk functions. You will, but if you were relying heavily on SolarWind functions such as Benchmarking or Internationalizing and Localization, you would not get the same with ServiceNow.
Still, the tool is worth your attention as for as long as there is demand, the features will arrive sooner or later.
Last on our list of alternatives is the Freshservice platform. This tool is a part of the Fresh family, which will be a good fit for companies that already use their products. But even if this is your first time hearing about it, you will not be disappointed.
What makes this candidate a great option is its robustness. The platform is equipped with a wide range of management systems that can help you work both better and faster. Incident assessments, SLA management, self-service portals, Automations & AI/ML are all part of the core, so you aren’t missing anything major.
However, if you were to rely on Solars procurement tools and CMDB management, then you won’t be getting anything like it here. However, the API is open, and custom functionality can be added, provided that you have the technical capability.
Your Turn to Act
While it is unclear how many organizations were affected, staying in the ecosystem might not be a good idea. Furthermore, an attack of such magnitude might prove to be life-threatening for the vendor, as no doubt, class action lawsuits will ensue.
Your best course of action is to take action into your hands and move to any of the above-mentioned systems. They aren’t immune to attacks, but their security hasn’t been compromised yet. Besides, they offer practically the same level of features minus a few here and there. It is indeed best that you move your data resources elsewhere.
And since time is of the essence, there’s no better tool for the job than our Migration Wizard. It will not only migrate your SolarWinds info fast but regardless of size too. If you have an eclectic array of files, our system is ready to accommodate it. If you wish to learn more, we are clicks away. But for now, stay safe.
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