As we work together through this troubling time, I wanted to take a look a little on a brighter side:
For casino information technology, trying to get certain things complete can be very challenging inside a high pressure and secure 24/7 environment. Here is a list of some things we could be considering through the casino closures in no exact order:
Prepare for more demands on your remote access systems and make sure they are secure
If you have not heard from management yet, it is imminent. This may be your busiest area for IT over the next coming weeks. Make sure your remote access system has the capacity. Establish procedures for quick reaction change requests that will address the needs of the new remote access workers. This will help make sure all changes in security appliances are documented.
Make sure remote access systems are secure as the security threat to casinos from external hackers has never been greater. If you do not have a multi factor authentication system implemented like Duo or RSA, be aware you are at greater risk. Also, do you need to have more mobile endpoints on hand for check out? Or are you going to allow users to access the casino’s systems from their own devices? If you are doing the latter, are they going to use a remote sandbox under your management (preferred) or are you going to allow their personally-managed OS to make a direct connection (not a great idea)? At the time of writing, Cisco has announced that are giving away free Duo licenses.
Stress test and run maintenance on production gaming databases
This is a good time to look under the hood of your patron and machine databases. Of course, always make a backup before making any changes. Communicate well with marketing and finance as they may still be using these systems.
Security patch network infrastructure devices that are supporting your gaming operations
For some, it is hard to schedule maintenance to upgrade, for instance, a distribution switch for your slot floor. Be careful here. Don’t just go get the latest version. Do a caveat and security analysis on your release options and of course be sure to test.
Make sure people know how to get a hold of IT remotely
Consider that as people begin working more from home, there may be demands on helpdesk to support people remotely. Do your users know how to reach you from home?
Take advantage of free Video Conferencing
Microsoft, Cisco, Google, and Slack (among others) are offering free video conferencing. Sure, they see it is a sales proof of concept, but you may need to expand your demand temporarily so no reason not to take advantage. If you don’t need it after things become normal, just cancel.
Clean up some of that cabling
There is a good chance you have some less than ideal structured wiring in place supporting gaming operations. It can sometimes be difficult to clean these areas up when the casino demands to be open 24/7. Now is your golden opportunity. Be sure to test devices downstream afterward.
Implement gaming floor identity management
Likely securing the floor with products like Aruba ClearPass or Cisco ISE has been on your TODO. An implementation now will give your department some slack during the deployment process. If you have already deployed, now is a great time to review endpoints and policies.
Carefully Wipe down and sanitize IT equipment and peripherals
Some equipment is hard to get to or difficult to handle while the casino is operational, so it’s a good time to roll up the sleeves and have a look. Additionally, how are you handling the sanitization of workstation peripherals like mice and keyboards? How about those timeclocks? Training computers?
Review and update internal policies, procedures, and documentation
There is a good chance these could use some updating. Lack of operational demand may give you the opportunity to finally get into the headspace to give these TLC. Diagrams, user onboarding/offboarding processes, handbooks, etc.
Review short term capital and operational expenditure
The finance department is likely under a complete review. Be ready to understand your current expenses and think about necessary adjustments.
Review equipment on order
There is a worldwide supply side shortage. Make sure to double check your equipment orders.
Run IT security and disaster recovery drills
With more of the team available, this could be a great time to run through red team exercises and to test your disaster recovery readiness.
Create a plan for Casino re-opening
Things could get a little crazy when it is time to reopen the doors to the public. Have a plan to health check IT systems readiness. Communicate with other departments to understand if there will be any special needs.
Above all else, be healthy and safe. Don’t expose yourself or your team to any unnecessary risks.