The security of your organization’s network is paramount to its success. With the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats, it's important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your network is secure and compliant with industry regulations. 

Ensuring compliance requires you to know what’s on your network. But how can that be done when only 48% of leaders and security professionals say they run their asset discovery program at least once per week? One of the most effective tools for identifying assets and vulnerabilities on a network is IT asset discovery. 

What is IT discovery and why is it important for IT security?

IT discovery is the process of identifying and cataloging the various hardware, software and other components that make up an IT infrastructure. This is an essential process to ensure the smooth functioning of IT networks as it allows IT administrators to identify potential issues and plan for future growth. 

Once this identification and cataloging of IT inventory is completed, you can maintain a comprehensive inventory of all your assets. Keeping track of all the components making up your network in one place means IT administrators can quickly identify any problems and take the necessary steps to fix them.

And since, on average, up to 30% of an organization’s IT assets are ghost assets, missing or unaccounted for, it is even more important to have accurate, up to date information about your device landscape. 

To quickly detect changes in the network and respond to potential threats, it’s worth automating the discovery process — ultimately, it'll ensure a secure and compliant network.  

How does IT discovery work?

IT discovery typically uses manual scanning or automated scanning tools. Manual scans involve manually entering IP addresses into a scanner, while automated scans are done with specifically designed software programs. These programs will search through an organization's environment, looking for:

  • Hardware components such as computers, servers, routers and switches. 
  • Software components such as operating systems and applications. 
  • Network connections such as LANs (Local Area Networks) or WANs (Wide Area Networks). 

Additionally, as not every asset will be on the network, the ability to discover devices from other sources via connectors is just as critical in providing a comprehensive picture of your entire IT estate.  

Benefits of IT discovery for IT security

Accurate device information is an essential component of any organization’s IT network. Without it, organizations are unable to identify and track assets on their networks or ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards. 

By automating the process of discovering devices connected to your network, you can capitalize on the following benefits: 

  • Provide real-time alerts regarding any changes in the device inventory. This kind of visibility can help your organization quickly detect potential threats and respond accordingly. With accurate device information, identifying unknown assets and reducing attack surface by removing outdated or unauthorized hardware. 
  • Ensure that a network is compliant with relevant security regulations and standards such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). 
  • Accurately monitor the performance of IT infrastructure and ensure that it always remains secure. With real-time visibility into all the devices connected to the network, your IT team can easily identify problems, even before they become critical issues, and respond quickly when issues arise. This helps reduce downtime for employees, which in turn leads to improved productivity and employee experience across the organization. 

Respond Quickly to Potential Threats

When responding to potential threats, it’s important for organizations to act quickly to minimize the impact of the attack. With extended visibility into your entire network, you can quickly locate any malicious actors or vulnerabilities that could lead to an attack.

This also allows for more accurate and timely monitoring of changes in your network's architecture, which are critical in identifying potential weaknesses before exploitation can occur. 

Additionally, keeping track of who has access to what parts of your network makes monitoring user activities and maintaining up-to-date user profiles a breeze. With threat actors getting better at disguise, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to the information they need helps reduce the risk of any unauthorized access or misuse.

And if a threat occurs, it’s much easier to determine where it originated from and take appropriate action against it.  

Finally, providing valuable insights into how your organization is responding to potential threats can help improve your security strategy. By measuring response time and tracking incidents over time, you can evaluate which strategies are working best and which ones to amend.

Hungry for more? Watch our webinar recording and explore 5 Best Practices From Real‑World RBVM Programs.