IT asset management is the ongoing identification, classification, and risk management of IT assets across the enterprise network. IT assets can be workstations, servers, mobile devices, IoT, and other network-connected devices. One of the oldest adages in security is “You can’t secure what you don’t see.” The importance of this is reinforced by CIS core controls 1 and 2 to maintain asset and software inventories.
IT asset management is a strategic and fundamental mandate for any enterprise. Below we discuss what it is, common challenges, and the benefits of overcoming those.
For those that already understand IT asset management and want to assess a free solution to support it, you can jump to the end here. For those that are more interested in understanding the importance of network dependency mapping between assets, please read this blog.
Why is IT asset management important for cyber security?
IT asset management is important for cybersecurity because it helps organizations identify, classify, and prioritize their IT assets and understand the risks they may be exposed to. This information is critical for effective cybersecurity because it allows organizations to allocate their resources and efforts in a way that is most likely to mitigate the most significant risks to their assets. By understanding their assets and the risks they face, organizations optimally implement appropriate controls and safeguards to protect against cyber threats, such as malware, phishing attacks, and data breaches.
Why is IT asset management so hard for enterprise teams?
IT asset management challenges enterprise IT and security teams for many technical, environmental, and political reasons. All while team and financial resources constraints are in place. Below are the most common inhibitors to developing effective IT asset management processes and inventories.
Large enterprises often have a large and diverse range of assets, including hardware, software, data, and people. Managing and securing these assets is often complex, especially as the organization grows and changes over time. Expanded investments in existing technologies, inheriting new IT assets and businesses through mergers and acquisitions, or migration between technologies results in a lot of change. Uncertainty is the most consistent outcome as complexity increases through change.
Lack of visibility
It can be difficult for organizations to get a complete and accurate view of all of their assets, especially if they are distributed across multiple locations or departments. This lack of visibility often makes it difficult to accurately assess risks and identify security control coverage gaps. While organizations invest in endpoint detection and response solutions, they need to ensure they can identify all the assets across the enterprise that are missing agents. You can only secure what you can see, and when you can’t see everything, you can’t secure everything.
Enterprise teams often have limited time and budget, which makes it challenging to manage and secure all of their assets. Without the ability to automate asset inventory management and close the loop on security control coverage implementation on gaps, enterprise teams will continue to drink through the proverbial fire hose. Tools often lack interoperability to exchange information on all assets. As a result, enterprises cannot remediate gaps in security controls without human alerting and manual remediation.
The landscape of cyber threats constantly evolves. Organizations must adapt to changing risks and threats. This is a significant challenge, especially for enterprises with large and complex IT asset count. Hybrid cloud environments coupled with onprem networks aren’t a future state – infrastructure is changing across the enterprise and will continue to do so even more rapidly. If changes aren’t aggregated and converged from all monitoring solutions, the result is a lack of visibility and inaction due to complexity.
Cultural and organizational barriers
Effective asset management is complicated due to cultural and organizational barriers within the enterprise. For example, different departments or business units may have different priorities and may not always be aligned on asset management strategies. While large projects may have cross-departmental alignment, preferences in tooling vary. The result is a politicization of tooling and communication voids between teams with like goals. The outcome of which is more tools, dissimilar data types, and an inability to make common use of enterprise data.
What are the ways IT asset management helps cybersecurity teams?
IT asset management helps cyber security teams identify and classify their assets and understand the risks across assets. This information is fundamental for successful risk assessment, as it allows organizations to prioritize their efforts and allocate their resources in a way that is most likely to mitigate the most significant risks. Effective risk management is based on the completeness of asset inventories across changes. The more information available on assets, the better for making informed risk management decisions. Many organizations leverage network dependency mapping adjacent to asset management to make more informed security decisions.
IT asset management empowers cyber security teams to identify vulnerabilities in their assets and to understand the potential impact of those vulnerabilities. This information can be used to prioritize the remediation of vulnerabilities and to ensure that the most critical assets are protected first. The completeness of an IT asset inventory ensures that the risk across all assets is known. Complete visibility and context enable impactful business decisions that meaningfully reduce risk.
IT asset management helps cyber security teams to identify the appropriate controls and safeguards to protect against cyber threats. By understanding the value and sensitivity of their IT assets, organizations can implement the most effective controls to prevent or mitigate potential threats. When IT asset inventories are created and updated, as new IT assets are added they can be automatically assessed for security control coverage. When network and security services interoperate in a cybersecurity mesh architecture, you can implement a closed-loop remediation process.
Asset management helps organizations meet regulatory and compliance requirements, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). By accurately identifying and classifying their assets, organizations can ensure that they comply with relevant regulations and standards. Consider the example of HIPAA – personal data should only be accessible by medical staff and not by administrators. The only way to understand if data is accessible is by understanding the classification of servers as containing or not containing sensitive information.
How do CISOs justify spending on IT asset management for cyber security?
Proper asset management tooling reduces the costs of personnel and projects. Below are a few prevalent examples.
Reduce unnecessary spending
Good IT asset management can help enterprises to reduce unnecessary spending by identifying and eliminating underutilized or unnecessary assets. As a result, organizations optimize their resources and avoid overspending on equipment and software that are not being used effectively. Cloud spending continues to increase while unnecessary spending hovers at 30%.
Improve asset utilization
Effective IT asset management improves the utilization of enterprise assets, which leads to cost savings. By ensuring that assets are being used efficiently and effectively, organizations can reduce the need to purchase additional equipment or software, and can extend the useful life of their existing assets. It also provides visibility into components of applications that are candidates for refactoring to reduce spend and risk.
Manage software licenses
Consistent IT asset management enables effective management and optimization of software licenses, which can lead to significant cost savings. By accurately tracking and managing software licenses, organizations can avoid overspending on unnecessary licenses and ensure that they comply with license agreements.
Reduce downtime and disruptions
IT asset management helps enterprises to reduce downtime and disruptions, which can save money by minimizing the impact of outages or failures. By accurately tracking and managing IT assets, organizations can quickly identify and resolve issues, which can help to prevent costly disruptions.
IT Asset Management for Free
Overall, IT asset management is an important part of effective cyber security and can help enterprises to protect their assets, meet regulatory requirements, and optimize their resources. While it’s historically been difficult to implement, now it is done through simple tooling predicated on integration and advanced data management.
appNovi’s cybersecurity mesh platform gives enterprise teams complete visibility across all their assets, users, applications, and the ability to understand dependencies. Gain asset discovery and context for free today by filling out this form.