10 Reasons Why IT Asset Management is Key to Cybersecurity
The foundation of an effective cybersecurity strategy is knowledge about the environment. IT asset management (ITAM) enables organizations to know what assets they have and where they are located, ensuring that all assets are tracked so they can be secured properly. Below are 10 reasons to include ITAM in your cybersecurity strategy:
1. Mitigates Risk
Uncertainty about security threats, legal liabilities, and unpredictable events are much worse for IT security administrators when they don’t know where assets are located, how they are managed, and if they are vulnerable. ITAM provides a picture of the IT assets being used in the common operating environment. When IT assets are properly tracked, administrators can lower the security risks that come from unknown, lost, or misconfigured IT assets.
2. Provides Software Asset Cost Control
When organizations know what software they have, they can reclaim unused software and reallocate it and avoid purchasing a new license for the requested software. Managing too many software applications increases the security risks that come from outdated software or software that hasn’t been patched. With proper IT asset management, organizations are better equipped to control software requests and software purchases.
3. Helps Ensure Software is Updated and Patched
Older versions of software, and software that isn’t properly patched can be a security risk for an organization. ITAM tracks assets in production and assets in storage. With accurate and complete inventory data, IT administrators can verify that all IT assets are counted and configured with the appropriate tools that will keep software applications up-to-date.
4. Provides Hardware Asset Control
Unauthorized or unknown IT assets can introduce a security risk to the network. ITAM along with network discovery tools will help IT administrators see all devices that connect to the network. When administrators know what is connecting to the network, they can put checks in place to verify that assets are compliant with security controls and updates.
Assets that don’t check into the network for a period of time can also introduce a security risk. With ITAM, administrators can be notified if an asset doesn’t report into the network, allowing them to investigate missing assets that have been stolen or lost. In addition to unexpected legal costs or fines, missing IT assets with sensitive data could become a public relations nightmare for an organization.
5. Locates IT Assets
ITAM helps IT administrators see where assets are physically located. It shows who is using the asset as well as the associated cost center or department where the asset is used. When IT assets don’t report into the network, or if they don’t respond properly to network security updates, it’s important to know where the asset is located so that technicians can quickly locate the asset to perform a visual inspection.
6. Maps the Purpose of IT Assets so that Appropriate Security Controls are Applied
ITAM enables administrators to document the purpose of an IT asset. ITAM solutions can associate IT assets to projects or to an IT service, providing security administrators the information they need to properly secure each asset. For example, servers purchased for a testing environment could require security controls that are much different than servers purchased to provide web services in a live environment.
7. Maps Software Assets
ITAM will report what software packages are licensed by the organization, in addition to what the software does for the organization. When software titles are mapped to software assets, IT administrators can avoid purchasing redundant software. Reducing the quantity of software applications that IT is required to support will lower security risk.
8. Sets Asset Priority by Categorizing IT Assets
Not all assets are equal in an IT environment. ITAM can categorize IT assets by their operational function. For example, an IT asset categorized as critical to IT service operations could be associated with a configuration item (CI), then managed in a configuration management database with configuration management processes to ensure that any changes, updates, or modifications are approved and scheduled using a change management process.
IT assets that contain sensitive or proprietary information should be categorized accordingly to ensure they are stored in a secure location and, if compromised, assigned to the appropriate incident-response process with the correct level of urgency. When properly categorized, IT assets with sensitive information can be assigned to relevant disposal processes that ensure data is properly removed from a device before it is discarded.
9. Improves Reporting Accuracy for Security Administrators
ITAM can improve the accuracy of reports created by security administrators. Consider using the IT asset management database as a source of truth to verify that each asset has been counted and configured with the appropriate security controls. Assets that go unnoticed might not get the proper security controls, creating a security risk to the network.
10. Tracks Non-traditional IT Components, Such as IoT
Non-traditional IT devices, such as IoT, continue to flood the network. IT administrators need to document all devices, both traditional and non-traditional, so they can assess the security risk accurately.
Although security risks associated with a smart lightbulb may seem minimal, software that controls the smart lightbulb could be compromised easily if not properly secured. ITAM keeps non-traditional IT devices visible to security administrators, ensuring that all devices, such as IoT hardware and its supporting software, are properly secured and kept current with the latest software and security updates.