The IT world has changed dramatically in the last ten to twenty years. The main reason for this is that business requirements are in many ways quite different than before. Technology changes so quickly and it can be challenging for IT and cybersecurity professionals to keep up.
As the world evolves, especially during the global pandemic with the exponential growth of remote work, the assets that are important to an organization continue to diversify and be even further geographically dispersed. Knowing what assets are being used to interact with an organization’s data is a great challenge that security teams face to ensure the best cybersecurity possible.
Having an up-to-date, comprehensive asset inventory provides organizations with a certain level of visibility that shows how vulnerable each asset is and, consequently, how vulnerable the organization is.
In this article, you’ll understand what cybersecurity asset management is and why it’s important. Also, you’ll see examples and some best practices for efficient implementation.
What is Asset Management Cybersecurity?
An asset is any resource that allows you to accomplish your goals.
Assets can include anything ranging from employees’ laptops, critical databases, your company’s website, and the office space itself. The purpose of asset management is to keep track of all of your assets from the moment you start using them until the day you don’t need them anymore.
Poor asset management leads to a significant drop in productivity. As the organization tries to make changes to mitigate this productivity problem, there’s a risk of creating security holes that could endanger the whole company. Cybersecurity asset management involves all the necessary steps that allow you to monitor your assets and identify security gaps.
Typically, an organization has many different types of assets. These could include endpoints like computers and servers, databases, websites, etc. In general, all the hardware and software that’s needed to run a business smoothly. An organization’s assets also include buildings, offices, and people. A complete asset management strategy should cover everything from databases to employees. Any asset can be a potential vulnerability.
What Are the Benefits of Asset Management Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity asset management plays a crucial role in the overall security strategy of an organization. It can benefit your business in several ways:
Mitigates risks: A robust cybersecurity asset management allows businesses to expand their IT assets according to their operational needs. Organizations don’t have to worry too much about the potential security risks these new assets might bring because their cybersecurity asset management platform will proactively detect vulnerabilities. By keeping track of resources, organizations mitigate the security threats stemming from inaccessible or incorrectly configured assets.
Proactive threat detection: A security team can identify emerging threats before they become critical. Monitoring assets for security risks gives you the edge to address threats before they become active.
Advanced visibility: With asset management, organizations have a detailed and accurate asset and risk inventory. In case of an attack, they can refer to it and understand how the attack occurred.
Secures all kinds of assets: An organization’s infrastructure consists of many different types of assets. Asset management aims to document all assets so you can secure and manage them efficiently. Neglected software or unauthorized hardware are big threats to a business. An asset inventory will allow you to monitor your software so that you can update it often and secure it. Also, it will inform security teams of any unknown connected devices on your network. Knowing this will allow you to either remove them or update them.
Efficient asset location: Asset management helps security teams to know exactly where an asset is located. When an asset doesn’t work as expected or becomes unresponsive to security upgrades, it’s considered a liability, and security teams knowing its location can quickly address any problems.
Examples of Asset Management for Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity asset management is a multifaceted process and includes many different tasks. One thing to keep in mind is that it differs from organization to organization because they have different needs and different assets to secure and manage. Below you can see the most widespread activities of cybersecurity asset management.
Device discovery and endpoint protection: All your network endpoints get scanned for vulnerabilities. This allows security teams to act fast and take measures, like isolating vulnerable endpoints, and solve any problems. Also, it detects assets without endpoint agents or identifies assets where the agent isn’t working properly.
Vulnerability management: With cybersecurity asset management, you identify and remediate active vulnerabilities. A complete vulnerability management strategy consists of continuous vulnerability assessments that will help you scan and eventually secure your assets.
Cloud security: Cloud environments are complex and include many service types. Cybersecurity asset management will help you identify cloud instances that are vulnerable due to insufficient scanning or poor configuration.
Incident response: If a threat emerges, cybersecurity asset management uses various data sources to provide the security team with all the necessary details that will help them find the source of the problem and resolve it.
Continuous security policy enforcement: If an asset doesn’t comply with your team’s security policies, cybersecurity asset management allows you to quickly detect it and fix it. This is especially helpful because when you have specific security policies, and your assets comply with them, they automatically get a certain level of protection.
Best Practices of Asset Management
You can notably improve your cyber-security by implementing software asset management. Below are some best practices you should follow.
Know your assets.
Knowing your assets seems obvious, but it’s easier said than done. Keeping an up-to-date inventory of your assets requires time and effort, but it ensures you have visibility of your infrastructure. The inventory must include all the software and the hardware that you use and own as an organization. Besides, those assets thought, it should include all the private devices, like an employee’s laptop, for example, that have access to your network. Using an asset management tool that fits your needs will help you tackle some of the task’s difficulties.
Ensure all your assets have the latest security updates.
You should take all the necessary measures to keep your assets safe. Having the latest antivirus programs installed on your devices, using firewalls to prevent cyber risks, and upgrading software are essential measures. An up-to-date asset inventory will inform you if you have any devices that lack security updates. An asset management tool will allow you to detect outdated software and verify that your devices have an antivirus program installed.
Reduce your digital attack surface.
An attack surface includes all the entry points, inside or outside of your infrastructure, that a hacker can use to access your network. As organizations grow, so does the digital attack surface which increases the overall vulnerability to threats. With asset management, you’ll know exactly what your assets are and what threats they face. You’ll be able to control your attack surface and minimize threats.
Track your Assets
New assets may be purchased for specific projects. Ensure that your team syncs up with your organizations expense reporting software to identify unplanned asset purchases and include them in your IT asset list.
The backbone of a robust cybersecurity strategy is having a deep understanding of your business systems and infrastructure. With asset management, you know exactly what your assets are, where they are, what is their status, and what actions you need to take to secure them or keep them secure. Organizations benefit significantly from cybersecurity asset management as it allows real-time identification and efficient reaction to cybersecurity threats. Cybersecurity asset management might only be a part of an overall cybersecurity strategy, but it plays a crucial role in achieving holistic and proactive security.