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Asset management refers to the process of tracking, cataloging, and managing control of an organization’s physical and virtual assets, such as hardware, software, data, and intellectual property assets, throughout their lifecyclepro.

The Importance of Asset Management in IT and Cybersecurity

Asset management is a critical component of IT. Seamless asset management can help businesses ensure optimal security of their valuable physical and digital assets and meet regulatory requirements. Assets involve various components, including hardware, software, databases, data stores, data warehouses, etc. Following are some of the most important reasons asset management plays an integral role in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Asset management is important for ensuring and enhancing cybersecurity in an organization. To safeguard an organization’s assets, it is first essential to know what those assets are, where they are located, and who has access to them. Without these valuable insights into the assets, it is difficult to identify vulnerabilities and defend the organization against increasing cyberattacks.
  • Asset management is also required in some data privacy regulations. Many organizations are subject to data regulations requiring them to protect their assets against unauthorized access, damage, or destruction. Failing to comply with those regulations can result in huge legal consequences, such as fines.
  • IT assets make up a significant portion of a company’s budget. To optimize the IT asset cost, it is important for the IT team to understand what assets they have and how many assets are under-utilized or putting unnecessary operational overhead. Asset management helps with reducing excessive spending and improving return on investment.

Key Components of Asset Management

Asset management comprises various primary components:

  • The first and foremost step is the discovery of the IT assets. IT teams scan their infrastructure to identify and catalog all the IT assets across their organization. These assets may include applications, licensed software, data repositories, and servers, to name a few.
  • Next is the classification phase, where the IT teams classify or categorize the identified assets. These assets are then tagged and labeled according to their criticality, business needs, etc. The process of asset classification helps organizations realign their focus and prioritize only sensitive assets, such as an AWS S3 bucket containing sensitive data.
  • It is equally important to monitor and track the asset inventory on a regular basis. Asset tracking allows teams to keep their asset inventory up to date and maintain a comprehensive historical record of all activities.
  • Another important component of asset management is access control. IT teams must establish robust access policies for the business assets. These policies help set up appropriate controls, restricting who can access or modify any assets. It is best to implement role-based access control (RBAC). The RBAC controls allow teams to restrict asset access based on the users’ roles and permissions.

Asset Tracking and Inventory Best Practices

Asset tracking and inventory are two of the most critical aspects of asset management. IT teams can consider the following best practices.

  • Asset management is a pretty complex process and requires too much effort. For small-size businesses, manual asset tracking and inventory may suffice. However, maintaining a high volume of assets requires automated asset discovery, inventory, and classification tools for larger organizations. Automation saves time and effort, and it also reduces human errors.
  • It is imperative for IT teams to conduct regular audits of their asset inventory. It helps verify the inventory's accuracy and ensures that all the assets across the organization are accounted for.
  • There are two types of assets in any organization: native and shadow or unmanaged. Native assets are not as complicated to discover, tag, and catalog as shadow assets. Shadow assets are those assets that the IT teams have in their environment but are not managed, protected, or inventoried. In other words, shadow assets are unknown to the IT, making them a serious security risk if those assets contain sensitive data. Therefore, it is equally important to discover not only native assets but also non-native and shadow assets.

Challenges and Solutions in Asset Management

There are many challenges related to effective asset management, such as shadow IT, as mentioned earlier. Employees may use tools, services, or applications that are not approved, authorized, and monitored by the IT team. To reduce the problem, clear usage policies must be formulated and implemented, educating employees about the risks posed by these shadow IT assets and how to request approvals before deploying any unapproved resources. Asset security posture management is essential for ensuring that all the assets in the environment are accounted for and configured properly. However, data security posture management should also be given equal significance as it enables security teams to protect the sensitive data within those assets.

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