logo
Technology

Why You Need To Take Asset Inventory Seriously

An old saying which always struck me as strange and misguided is "What you don't know can't hurt you". Of course what you don't know can hurt you, especially if it's an unseen oncoming vehicle, for example, or if you work in the cybersecurity space.

|
Jul 09, 2023
Why You Need To Take Asset Inventory Seriously

If you work in cybersecurity, the saying does not apply and will get you into trouble at some point. Nobody expects you to know everything, but they expect you to know what assets you have on your corporate networks plugged into your IT infrastructure. It's the first thing I look for when speaking to an organisation for the first time.

Generally speaking, the more that an organisation can tell you about their inventory of PC's, tablets, smartphones, servers, wireless access points and wireless access points, the better they are at cybersecurity. It may surprise you to discover that most organisations do not have a firm handle on their asset inventory.

This is shocking in itself because asset discovery is a foundational IT security measure and it's impossible to defend your IT infrastructure unless you have an up-to-date list of what you are defending. When you learn that most companies do not maintain an active list of their assets, it's not at all surprising that so many get breached.

When I talk to organisations about cybersecurity, I ask them questions like "what internet-facing assets do you have?", or "do you know where your data is and who has access to it" and if they scratch their heads a little piece of me dies inside.

I know that they will be vulnerable everywhere because they do not understand what they are defending. The single most effective cybersecurity action an organisation can make is to assign a dedicated person to estate discovery and maintaining an 'as close to real-time as possible' list of the company assets connected to their IT infrastructure.

If your organisation does not have a handle on the basics like asset inventory, whatever security tools you have in place are for show and a breach is just a matter of time, alarm bells should be ringing. Organisations are may find it tough to keep a handle on the number of PCs, BYOD hardware, servers, load balancers, firewalls and storage devices that connect to their networks, but when an unknown device is used to exfiltrate something valuable from your network, not knowing about it will not fly as an excuse.

THE BREACH IS GOING TO BE YOUR FAULT

If you are unlucky enough to get breached and have the investigators discover that, you have no accurate asset inventory, the breach was your fault, and that's a concept even the C level will understand. Now that we have established that estate discovery is a fundamental piece of your IT security and that without it you will almost certainly get the blame for breaches, let's look at what you can do to get yourself out of this mess.

Immediately Eliminate Your Blind Spots - Let's be honest, you might know which PC's and employee mobile devices you have connected to your networks, but everything from random BYOD endpoints and IoT devices, to unauthorized SaaS applications, file sharing, and cloud storage is a potential blind spot. Your first step is to immediately eliminate all of those blind spots and you should view them as black holes full of security, legal and compliance risk that need to be plugged immediately if you are to remain compliant.

If You Do Not Have The Right Tools, Get Them - Your IT asset management tools let you detect things like servers, firewalls, load balancers and network storage, but what you really need is an automated tool that will give you visibility over every part of your network and ideally conforms to estate discovery best practices. Your solution needs to be able to scan your network address ranges and analyze traffic in order to identify unknown assets. It then needs to be able to drill down into those assets for granular information about connections, permissions, usage and tag the asset for future tracking.

Inventory & Control Your Hardware & Software Assets - You absolutely need to be actively managing (meaning tracking and keeping an inventory) of your hardware and software assets. Only authorized hardware can be given access to your networks and only authorized software can be installed onto your endpoints. You need to know which employees can use your hardware or software and know which users should not be accessing it and estate discovery can help you accomplish this.

Hire Or Appoint A Dedicated Asset Controller - This should go without saying, but you absolutely need to appoint somebody to assume responsibility for maintaining an accurate inventory of your assets, if you are to ever hope to get a handle on them in any way. This is the single most effective action that you can make in order to improve your overall cybersecurity posture, appointing a dedicated asset controller will yield a significant return on investment compared to almost anything else.

Consider Bringing In The Professionals - There is so much complexity to network topology, only so much time in your busy IT teams schedule and so many different tools on the market that it can be difficult for organisations to know which steps to take first and how to make them. If this is the case for your organisations, then your best bet is to bring in the professionals. I spoke to Marek Bialoglowy, the CTO of cybersecurity firm ITSEC and asked him how often they get called in to conduct estate discovery projects, he told me "a substantial part of our work is helping our clients work out exactly what they are defending and often they call us in to act as a force multiplier to their existing IT team and help them bring their asset management processes up to best practice".

Whichever route you take to discovering all of the assets connected to your networks, you absolutely need to start right now if you have not done so already. Estate discovery is such a fundamental tenet of IT security, that it must be prioritized and actively managed if you ever hope to properly secure your networks against a rapidly rising tide of cyber threats inevitably heading towards your organisation.

Share this post

You may also like

ITSEC Guide to DevSecOps
Technology

ITSEC Guide to DevSecOps

Tips
Hacks

Any technical team currently using the DevOps framework should seek ways to move towards the DevSecOps mindset by enhancing the security skills of each team member from various technology backgrounds. From building business-focused cybersecurity services to testing potential cybersecurity exploits, the DevSecOps framework ensures that cybersecurity is built by embedding it into applications rather than being just an add-on. By ensuring security considerations at every stage of software delivery, you continuously integrate security, which reduces compliance costs and enables the rapid and secure delivery of software. DEVSECOPS IN PRACTICE The advantage of DevSecOps is that it brings about increased automation along the software delivery pipeline. This automation is beneficial in the long run as it eliminates errors, reduces cyberattacks, and minimizes downtime. Organizations looking to integrate security into their DevOps framework find that the process can be relatively seamless if they use the right DevSecOps tools. The workflows of DevOps and DevSecOps can be summarized as follows: An engineer writes code within a version control platform. Changes are applied to the version

AdministratorAdministrator
|
Jul 10, 2023 4 minutes read
A Brief History of the Internet
Technology

A Brief History of the Internet

I got hooked on computers when Oregon Trail was first released. Back then, if you wanted your computer to be useful, you had to manually code all your applications in BASIC or endure the tedious process of "blipping" sounds at it. The only alternative to typing hundreds of lines of code was to load pre-recorded cassette tapes with a series of "beeps," whistles, and instructions for your computer to follow when played back. You know, those pre-recorded "beep" sounds were EXACTLY what the internet sounded like when I first heard it. No, it's not a typing mistake. I heard the internet before I actually saw it. So much so that I still believe my cable internet is fake because it's always so quiet. No, I didn't hear the internet because I'm some kind of internet whisperer. We ALL heard the internet before we actually used it. Its arrival was heralded by a series of high-pitched screeches and digital buzzing that came through your telephone line. That's how

AdministratorAdministrator
|
Jul 09, 2023 9 minutes read
Introduction to SOAR
Technology

Introduction to SOAR

Info

In a sense, SOAR can truly help your CSOC feel like it has wings. SOAR is a security operations and reporting platform that leverages machine-readable data from various sources to provide management, analysis, and reporting capabilities to support cybersecurity analysts. The SOAR platform applies decision-making logic, combined with context, to provide standardized workflows and enables triage (priority assignment) of cybersecurity remediation tasks. The SOAR platform provides actionable intelligence, allowing you to stay on top of your workflows. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOAR AND SIEM? SIEM has been around for some time and has evolved from being a security event correlation tool to a full-fledged security analysis system. Traditionally, SIEM practices involve collecting your security logs and events to provide visibility into what is happening within your organization from a cybersecurity perspective. The evolution of the tools we use is an ongoing process, and while alerts about suspicious behavior are necessary, the primary goal is to act quickly and effectively upon those alerts. Traditional SIEM will notify you that something is

|
Jul 10, 2023 4 minutes read

Receive weekly
updates on new posts

Subscribe