What is asset management in cloud computing?

Asset management in cloud computing identifies, assesses, and monitors cloud instances, cloud-based and hybrid virtual machines, and their contents to protect the organization. That seems simple enough, but it’s easy to overlook or underestimate the need for comprehensive cloud asset management in the growing complexity of organizational assets.

Why is cloud asset management such a challenge? Here are some key reasons. 

Cloud assets exist outside traditional IT networks

Cloud assets are located outside standard IT networks and, for this reason, can be difficult or impossible to locate and identify with standard, scan-based security tools. If these instances are invisible to security teams, they cannot be monitored or protected from threats, and it’s unlikely that an incident on an undetected cloud asset will generate any sort of alert for the team to respond to. 

Unless an organization can find and monitor its cloud assets, much of its data may be at risk. The global share of corporate data in the cloud increased from 30% in 2015 to 50% in 2021, and “85% of enterprises will have a cloud-first principle” by 2025. The shift from on-premises servers to the cloud can save organizations money, increase their agility, and facilitate remote work. 

Risks of unmanaged or incompletely managed cloud assets

Without visibility for proper management, more cloud adoption means more vulnerabilities and risks. The Identity Management Institute’s list of potential cloud security issues includes intellectual property exposure, compliance violations, malware attacks for data exfiltration, and insider threats that can lead to a cascade of consequences, including:

  • Breaches of data confidentiality clauses with clients and partners.
  • Denial of service attacks. 
  • Brand damage, customer churn, and revenue loss. 

Best practices for asset management in the cloud

Reducing these risks requires a security solution that can identify every cloud instance, cloud-based virtual machine, and hybrid cloud-premise asset. Once these assets are identified, they need to be classified by asset type and software. An effective solution will then compare the cloud assets to similar known assets in a device knowledgebase to benchmark appropriate attributes and asset behavior. 

Once that data is collected and analyzed, the next step is to monitor the cloud assets to detect changes in behavior. For example, a cloud server holding sensitive data that suddenly starts communicating with an unknown device outside the organization should trigger an alert and policy enforcement to halt data transfer. 

Automated visibility, monitoring, alerts, and threat response for cloud assets

Armis Asset Management identifies all devices in the organization’s environment, including cloud and virtual assets. By comparing these assets to its massive Device Knowledgebase, Armis can identify risky behavior in real time and automatically enforce policies to make security team responses more efficient.