Apr 21, 2023

Chapter 1: Is My Asset Inventory Truly Complete?

Asset visibility challenges have their usual culprits in the unmanaged Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT). In enterprise environments, however, most assets are known and mostly managed because of the greater use of traditional IT devices such as laptops and servers. Still, these environments have blind spots of their own.

You might have an IT asset visibility problem not necessarily because your devices and systems are invisible, but instead, because you lack a trusted inventory providing a complete and accurate picture of your environment.
This article — part of our cybersecurity asset management playbook series — discusses the challenges of IT fragmentation and provides guidance on how enterprises can bridge silos and achieve holistic enterprise asset visibility.

The hurdles of fragmented IT visibility and limited context

Your tech stack likely has several tools for collecting and analyzing different types of asset information. Here are a few examples of asset management tools:

  • IT Asset Management (ITAM) software provides an inventory of your assets, including purchase dates and serial numbers.
  • Configuration Management Database (CMDB) stores data that is more specific about your asset’s configurable items (CIs).
  • Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) examines files and systems to detect and block malware or other malicious activities.

When you use disparate solutions, the result is fragmented IT visibility, leaving you without a complete view of the end-to-end asset environment. And very often, if these tools provide you with conflicting information, it’s difficult to tell which data source to trust.

Having a siloed, fragmented asset inventory is a top sign you have an IT device visibility problem. For security pros surveyed by Armis, asset visibility is the biggest cybersecurity challenge their organizations face. Our research also points out that only half of the companies know the number of assets connected to their corporate network.

Consequences of siloed enterprise asset visibility

Siloed IT visibility is when an organization’s hardware and software assets are managed independently within separate divisions or departments. A lack of holistic enterprise asset visibility can lead to inefficiencies and security blind spots. You’ll face challenges such as:

  • Manual errors and the inability to scale due to unreliable and time-consuming manual processes for the collection of asset data.
  • Underutilization of business assets. By understanding asset utilization, you can eliminate software licenses and cut down costs.
  • Inaccurate reporting. If your asset inventory is not updated in real time, you might be dealing with outdated, unreliable information.
  • Redundancies. By not knowing what you already have in your ecosystem, you might end up spending on new, unnecessary assets.
  • High costs associated with downtime or maintenance of legacy devices and systems.

Increased exposure to risks for not having a complete understanding of the cyber attack surface.

What’s required for complete visibility of IT assets?

For complete IT asset visibility, you need a platform that — seamlessly integrates with your existing tools — gathers information from multiple sources into one single source of truth. In other words, you need the continuous discovery of new assets, a reliable inventory and real-time assessments based on asset intelligence and threat landscape.

Having a list of your enterprise devices is not enough. You also need contextual information. For example:

  • Where are your devices and when were they last seen?
  • Are they vulnerable? Are they still supported by their manufacturers? Is there a patch available?
  • How often are they being used? By whom? For what purpose?

Having answers to those questions enables organizations to better manage their digital assets.

Use cases for comprehensive device visibility

Operational efficiencies and cost savings

With a comprehensive inventory of all your enterprise assets, stakeholders can easily access and view the status and location of assets in real time. Device utilization insights allow for more efficient cybersecurity asset management, including tracking inventory and allocating resources. Here are a few scenarios:

  • You can assess device usage and make data-driven procurement decisions to prevent equipment shortage.
  • You can better understand when to decommission slow, outdated devices that are hindering employee productivity.
  • You can ask why a device is not being used and investigate if it’s because of a lack of demand or malfunction.

Looking at those issues can help you streamline your operations and reduce technical debt.

Security enhancements

IT asset visibility also enables organizations to take proactive measures to enhance their cyber resilience. A few examples of what you can do:

Managed IT assets also pose risks

Complete visibility of IT assets is critical because managed devices pose cybersecurity risks of their own. For example, you might have an inventory of all the computers in your environment, but these machines may not have the latest security updates, may be infected with malware, or may be easily compromised due to employees’ weak password habits. In fact, 56% of respondents of a Keeper‘s survey admit to using the same password for multiple sites/apps. If a password is compromised, an attacker can use that same password to access other accounts and breach your network.

Network security visibility helps to minimize cyber incidents caused by the human element (e.g. social attacks, misuses, and errors). One of the use cases would be to identify incorrectly configured managed assets — a growing topic of concern given that 13% of breaches are caused by human errors, per Verizon‘s report. For example, a common type of error that often leads to breaches is misconfigured cloud storage without appropriate access controls. Enhanced visibility into assets makes it easier for you to discover security issues like this and then prioritize fixes before it’s too late.

By managing your cyber attack surface with Armis, you can identify gaps in endpoint security agent deployment including missed devices, incorrect configurations, and version drift. Our platform also integrates with existing security, network, and ticketing platforms to ensure that teams prioritize the remediation of critical issues.

Corporate Computers with No Crowdstrike

Read our solution brief to learn more about our asset management integration with CrowdStrike.

Our customers say they discover five times more connected assets after deploying our Asset Intelligence and Security Platform. Armis automates the data collection process, pulling together everything known about each device from any of your existing tools. The data is then aggregated, de-duplicated, and normalized to get one single source of truth, which is critical to complete IT asset visibility.

See Armis in action. Book a demo now.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does SSOT mean in cybersecurity?

SSOT stands for single source of truth. In the context of cybersecurity, SSOT refers to an asset management principle that aims to ensure that all relevant asset information in an organization is consistent, accurate and up-to-date across all systems and applications.

Maintaining a single source of truth is essential for effective threat detection and response because cybersecurity systems often rely on real-time data from multiple sources to identify and mitigate potential threats. If this data is inconsistent or outdated, it can lead to missed or false positives and leave an organization vulnerable to attacks.

CMDB vs ITAM: What is the difference?

CMDB and ITAM are both related to managing IT assets, but they have different areas of focus:

CMDB stands for Configuration Management Database. It is a database that stores information about the configuration items (CIs) in an IT infrastructure. CIs are the components that make up an IT system, such as hardware, software, applications, and network devices. A CMDB tracks the relationships between these CIs and how they interact with each other.

ITAM stands for IT Asset Management. It is a process for managing the lifecycle of IT assets, from procurement to disposal. ITAM includes activities such as inventory management, software license management, and asset tracking.

What is endpoint security?

Endpoint security is the practice of securing the endpoints used to access an organization’s resources and data. Endpoints can include desktops, laptops, servers, phones, and other devices.

Organizations might leverage endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions to identify and mitigate cyber threats to endpoints. Armis provides IT asset visibility and vulnerability management needed for optimal endpoint security. And you can also integrate our platform with your endpoint tools for a greater return on investment.

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