Cybersecurity asset management 10 things you must know

Cybersecurity asset management: 10 things you must know

Cybersecurity asset management has become a crucial part of IT security, but there are still many organizations that have yet to adopt it. The emergence of cloud computing, IoT, and multi-cloud environments has made it harder than ever for organizations to manage and protect their cyber assets. Putting more intelligence at the fingertips of security teams is critical to protecting organizational and customer data from malicious attacks—before they are even launched. 

If you’re wondering what cyber asset management is and how it might benefit your organization, here are some pointers on getting started with this crucial IT strategy.

Read: Using ITAM for risk management

Understanding what cybersecurity asset management is

Cybersecurity asset management (CSAM) is a process to identify, track, and manage your organization’s assets. It’s an important part of a successful cybersecurity strategy because it can help you identify and prioritize assets that need special attention.

A comprehensive CSAM program includes four key components:

  • Conducting asset identification to understand where in your environment critical data resides.
  • Tracking all devices physically or virtually connected to your network 
  • Maintaining up-to-date information about each asset’s location, configuration, value, owner(s), maintenance providers/contractors, etc.
  • Documenting how each asset relates to one another so that if one piece fails or becomes compromised you know what other assets are affected by the incident.

Here are 10 things you must know about asset management and cybersecurity.

1. Get a clear picture of all assets – know what’s where

Before you can create a complete cybersecurity asset management strategy, it’s important that you have a clear picture of all your assets. Assets include both hardware and software. For example, consider your company’s servers and desktops. They are valuable pieces of equipment that can be used by hackers to infiltrate your system as well as provide information about your business operations for malicious purposes.

Identify ‘Known and Managed’ assets and ‘Unknown and Unmanaged’ assets.

You should also have a good idea of how much each asset is worth—what would happen if it were lost or damaged? In addition to physical assets, there are intangible ones such as patents or trade secrets that need protection from cyber threats as well. Some examples might be:

Your company’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio

  • Customer information in databases with identifying details like Social Security number or driver’s license number
  • Your brand name

2. Identify the value of each asset

Once you’ve identified all of your assets, it’s time to assess their value. Why is this important? Because in order to prioritize cybersecurity efforts and make sure no single asset gets too much attention, you need to have an objective measure for how much each one means—and what would happen if it were lost or stolen.

The best way to determine the value of an asset is by determining its importance on a scale from 1-10 (1 being not at all important, 10 being extremely important). The most common categories are:

  • Importance to organization – How does this asset fit into the organization’s overall mission?
  • Importance to operations – What kind of damage would happen if this asset went missing? Would operations cease entirely? Would they just slow down? Or would there be minimal impact on daily operations and processes?
  • Value in dollars/equivalents – This can either be expressed as what something costs now (such as “$10 million”), or how much money could be made off selling the item (e.g., “$100 million″).

Documenting your network and its assets is essential to a comprehensive cybersecurity program. You can’t protect what you don’t know about.

The first thing to understand about documenting critical infrastructure and its assets is that there are different types of documentation, each with their own purpose. There are other elements beyond just the asset itself that need to be documented as well, such as:

  • The current value of each asset (e.g., equipment replacement cost) if lost or stolen
  • The value of the data stored on that device
  • Documentation for how much it would cost for someone else in another industry or field without knowledge of cybersecurity best practices who might attempt an attack against your company’s network

3. Scan for weaknesses in asset security

Scanning is a good way to find weak points in asset security. Scanning tools provided by many cybersecurity asset management platforms can be used to scan a network and identify vulnerabilities in asset security, such as:

  • Web application scanners 
  • Database vulnerability scanners 
  • Operating system vulnerability scanners

By leveraging the right asset management strategy, organizations can be more proactive in identifying weaknesses and flaws. 

A good cyber asset management program will identify any assets that may be missing an endpoint device, assets that may have been deployed with access permissions too broad for their intended use or cloud instances with too much public exposure or cloud instances with inadequate incident response procedures to handle threats. It should also allow quick remediation to any issues identified.

Patch known weaknesses in asset security. The act of patching known weaknesses in asset security is a critical part of cybersecurity asset management.

This practice is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process that requires planning and preparation. Patching software flaws is no simple task either. It requires testing and verification to ensure that the vulnerability has been closed successfully before the patch can be applied to all systems.

Read: Using IT discovery to mitigate cybersecurity risks

4. Refer to NIST recommendations

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a detailed set of recommendations for IT Asset Management (NIST SP 11800-5b). This 237-page document goes into detail about how to implement Asset Management in your enterprise, including how-to guides. Although this may be more information than you require, it provides some great reference material.

The NIST recommendations are a great resource for creating that plan. It can help you manage your assets efficiently and securely, minimizing risks to your business

5. Maintain an inventory and check it frequently

Knowing what assets exist in your environment is crucial to having the appropriate controls and practices in place to secure your organization. The collection of inventory information can often be a once-a-year update of a spreadsheet or spreadsheet program which does not provide visibility or control for security needs. 

By creating a process that allows for continuous discovery of assets including classification and assessments, you will be able to have complete visibility into your environment and information on your attack surface.

6. Create a plan to manage assets and keep them secure

To make sure you’re on the right path, first you need to define what you want to achieve. Then, set goals and benchmarks for yourself.

Don’t worry about what other people’s goals are—you need to create your own. The most important thing is that they are realistic and achievable (while still being ambitious). 

A proper goal-oriented plan provides a holistic and best-in-class approach to protecting your network with automation, policy management, access control, and sequencing. Your security team will be able to identify, assess and address the security risks posed by devices, assets of all types proactively while taking steps to secure them. 

Cybersecurity asset management plans help to protect your organization against cyber attacks by implementing a layered approach to security. By incorporating a range of identity and systems management tools in your plan, such as identity and access management solutions, endpoint security management software, vulnerability scanning tools, active and passive network monitoring solutions and cloud orchestration technologies, it becomes easier to stay ahead of cyberattacks.

7. Review your plan and make adjustments as needed

It’s important to review your plan and make adjustments as needed. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to do in a crisis situation.

By asking important questions like: which systems are missing an endpoint agent and where is the agent not configured? Which cloud or other resources aren’t being scanned for vulnerabilities? Which unmanaged devices are present on the network? Who are the users with access to critical systems that don’t have two-factor authentication enabled? and so on, it becomes easier for your team to understand the course of action when tragedy hits.

8. Test your plan and train your staff to follow it

Once your plan is complete, it’s time to test it. This isn’t a formality; in fact, you should expect to test your plan at least once a year. If possible, bring in an outsider who hasn’t been involved in writing or revising the plan to see if they can identify any vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

If your staff members have never seen their roles and responsibilities spelled out in writing before, this is also an opportunity for them to become familiar with them by reading over the document together and discussing how they might comply with each requirement.

9. A well-crafted cybersecurity asset management strategy

A well-crafted cybersecurity asset management strategy can help you identify critical areas that require investment.

Keep in mind that asset management is a process, not a one-time effort. Cybersecurity asset management is about more than identifying what you have and where it is—it’s about understanding how to best use them to achieve your organization’s mission.

  • Create an inventory of all the equipment and software used by your employees in their daily work, including any physical property (e.g., printers) that are connected to the internet or networked with other devices. The inventory will help you identify which assets require protection from cybersecurity threats as well as which ones need more attention than others.
  • Once you’ve identified what’s important to protect, create policies and standards around those assets so they are protected at all times while being used appropriately within the company environment. For example, if an employee leaves sensitive information on an unsecured computer after working hours or when traveling without IT department approval, this could be considered negligence on their part if something bad happens because of it—even if they weren’t responsible for putting said information at risk!
  • Make sure your employees understand how these policies impact them personally so there aren’t any surprises down the road when they’re called out for not following regulations set forth by FRCA compliance regulations (or similar laws). This includes educating everyone on why these rules exist in order for them to know how important it is that everyone follows through accordingly.

10. Keep only what you need

It is important to clean up your network by only keeping what you really need and can articulate how the above systems and data link back to your organizational purpose and strategy.

Decommission any systems or information that are no longer used or that can’t be linked to a business need.

Count on Virima to keep your cyber assets secure

From small businesses to large enterprises, managing your cyber assets is critical. By implementing a cybersecurity asset management strategy and implementing controls around it, you can reduce the risks associated with having sensitive data stolen or compromised.

IT Asset Management (ITAM) is not just about tracking assets — it’s also about making sure that your organization has the right assets for each task. 

Virima ITAM ensures end-to-end management of all data center, edge, cloud, stockroom, software, and non-IT assets. Configurable status designations: i.e., requested, ordered, development, production, and decommissioned — will ensure that your organization has a clear view of when assets enter and leave different states of use. 

Read: How to manage cloud assets with Virima?

Pair it with ITSM Request Fulfillment to handle approval and assignment of new IT assets by service desk staff or business users. Track allocation and support ownership from initial assignment through handoff to disposition — automate the process so that you can make sure that your organization uses its resources in the most cost-effective way possible.

Virima’s unparalleled Discovery, CMDB, and ViVID service mapping provides the foundation to help you quickly identify, prioritize, assign and monitor for vulnerabilities that exist in your vast IT estate. By integrating vulnerability management into cybersecurity asset management, you’ll achieve greater security posture by reducing the number of vulnerabilities that could be exploited in your environment.Get more proactive on cybersecurity with Virima. Schedule a demo to learn more about our exceptional ITAM, Discovery, Service Mapping, and other solutions.

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