Have you ever wondered what the concept of IT asset refers to and what is its importance to your business? Continue reading to find your answer!
IT Asset: Definition
By definition, an IT asset “is any data, device, or another component of the environment that supports information-related activities. Assets generally include hardware (e.g. servers and switches), software (e.g. mission-critical applications and support systems) and confidential information”.
Two very important concepts related to IT asset are the CIA triad and risk analysis.
CIA comes from confidentiality, integrity and availability: “At the core of information security is information assurance, the act of maintaining the confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) of information, ensuring that information is not compromised in any way when critical issues arise. These issues include but are not limited to natural disasters, computer/server malfunction, and physical theft.”
Risk analysis refers to the necessity to always pay attention to potential vulnerabilities and potential threats:
Broadly speaking, risk is the likelihood that something bad will happen that causes harm to an informational asset (or the loss of the asset). A vulnerability is a weakness that could be used to endanger or cause harm to an informational asset. A threat is anything (man-made or act of nature) that has the potential to cause harm. The likelihood that a threat will use a vulnerability to cause harm creates a risk. When a threat does use a vulnerability to inflict harm, it has an impact. In the context of information security, the impact is a loss of availability, integrity, and confidentiality, and possibly other losses (lost income, loss of life, loss of real property).
Deciding what countermeasures will be taken to reduce the risk is also important in the process of risk management.
IT Asset: Classification
IT assets can be classified as follows:
- IT hardware – some time ago, this category included servers and desktops. Nowadays, the IT hardware also refers to laptops, mobiles, but also IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
- virtual machines – although technically software, virtual machines replace hardware.
- cloud services – cloud services are included here because they run on hardware. Private cloud usually includes a requirement for managing the supporting hardware.
- SaaS – many organizations manage Software-as-a-Serviced as software and not as a service.
- digital information – data assets, usually with subscriptions to be paid for licences to use the data.
- software – the programs your systems use.
IT Asset: Why You Need It
If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t forget about your company’s assets, here are a few reasons:
Asset theft is not as uncommon as you’d think or hope. When the equipment is lost or stolen, operations are affected and the general productivity suffers, especially if the stolen device had sensitive information on it.
Human error is one of the biggest security risks. It can lead to observation and calculation errors, but it can also cost human lives, depending on the activity domain where it appears.
A company’s productivity is linked to how well assets perform. Productivity loss and a high downtime period can be the consequences of improper functioning of assets of poorly performing assets.
Keeping a manual report of inventory can augment the risk of errors, which are very likely to affect the organisation’s profitability. If this data is used for important decisions, the results can be very misleading.
Multiple sources of information
If there isn’t a single tool used for collecting and centralizing information about your IT assets, chaos and inaccuracy are very likely to follow.
It’s not unheard of for applications, licenses and various other IT assets to be purchased, managed and used without the knowledge and approval of the central IT team.
Software rot, also known as code rot or software erosion, refers to the slow deterioration of software quality, “or its diminishing responsiveness that will eventually lead to software becoming faulty, unusable, or in need of an upgrade.”
What are the risks of software rot?
“The risk of falling prey to a data breach or cyber-attack more easily; The risk of slowing down the activity due to the performance issues or the need to manually fix issues regularly; The risk of becoming non-compliant.”
IT Asset: Other Important Mentions
When it comes to IT assets, another three notions are important for a better (cyber)security: IT asset management, IT asset discovery, IT asset management best practices.
IT Asset Discovery
Asset discovery represents the process of cataloguing the IT assets that are used by a certain company and also the process of monitoring them on a daily basis. Asset discovery is essential for maintaining the integrity of the data spread across a company’s endpoints.
IT Asset Management
As the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) defines it, IT asset management represents “a set of business practices that incorporates IT assets across the business units within the organization. It joins the financial, inventory, contractual and risk management responsibilities to manage the overall life cycle of these assets including tactical and strategic decision making.”
- create an inventory record;
- monitor the life cycle of your IT assets, which can be done with the help of our Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management solution, which keeps track of the software you use on your company’s devices and installs updates as soon as they’re deployed by the applications’ developers;
- keep track of your software licences;
- integrate the IT asset management process into a larger infrastructure;
- always audit and improve the process.
You can find more details on this essential security practice in the article Everything you need to know about IT asset management, written by my colleague Alina.
IT Asset Management Best Practices
When it comes to IT asset management best practices, you should remember:
- IT asset management is an ongoing process, not a project.
- IT asset management should be a proactive measure, not reactive.
- IT asset management needs a clear action plan.
- automate the IT asset management process as much as possible.
We’ll discuss these practices at length in a future article, so don’t forget to hit the subscribe bottom below to make sure you won’t miss it.
IT Asset: Wrapping Up
The risks that technology presupposes fall into three categories: security (data loss, malware, unauthorized access), financial (licence compliance, taxation, uncontrolled IT costs) and operational (shadow IT, disaster recovery/business continuity, system outages). The proper management of IT assets is one of the elements that can help you mitigate them and enhance the (cyber)security of your company.
Drop a line below if you have any comments, questions or suggestions regarding the topic of IT assets – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!