Information security is a growing concern for many organizations and while the ways you access and protect your data continue to evolve, the reasons for it stay the same – your data is the driving force of your organization. To effectively protect it, you need visibility and control over all your assets.
IT asset management is the foundation of many risk management frameworks for good reason. Having an informed understanding of your IT environment – your expectations for performance, configuration, and behavior – across the complete lifecycle of your assets will improve not only your operational awareness but your security posture too.
It’s tempting to consider IT asset management as mundane work. And that would be true if your approach to it was creating a simple device register and then setting it aside for your next inventory audit. In reality, though, true IT asset management is your key to managing the explosion of devices and systems your organization is likely experiencing.
It also serves as your canary in a coal mine. A strategic IT asset management program will help you identify risk earlier in the event of a security breach and deliver a quick, effective response.
3 Objectives of an Asset Management Program
When thinking through an IT asset management program, it helps to first break it down into three primary objectives:
1. Plan and organize your devices
Setup your asset management tools to reflect your organization’s plan. Consider all of your devices no matter whether they are on or off your corporate network. Then, document the purpose of each device. What business functions do they perform? How and where are they used? Who is responsible for them? Also, document the expected lifespan of each device including the refresh cycles, lease date or end of life warranty.
Last but certainly not least, determine whether or not it might hold or access sensitive, confidential information. If it’s to be used by the CEO or HR, for example, the answer is yes.
Establishing your expectations before you place devices in the hands of your end users ensures that you can detect and control unexpected changes as they happen, minimizing their impact and increasing your effectiveness.
2. Keep devices visible and healthy
Developing and implementing your IT asset management plan ensures that you have a living baseline to measure your population against. With this knowledge, you can effectively monitor your devices’ performance, health, and risk exposure, and make informed decisions about changes to your environment.
Are your security applications working and up-to-date? Users regularly delay patches, remove and/or disable applications, unwittingly putting the devices at risk. How are you able to identify the scope of unexpected changes in your environment and how can you address them at-scale when they occur? What’s your action plan if a device is lost or stolen? How will you discover that it’s gone?
3. Retire devices
To have an effective IT asset management plan and a capable information security practice, you need to trust your data and ensure that the devices important to you are monitored and protected. This means that your devices need a retirement plan. Establishing a process for your devices’ end of life from the time they first enter your environment means that your devices are collected, secured, sanitized, and removed from your environment when the time comes. It also means that the information you rely on to make critical information security and IT operations decisions is accurate and the alerts you receive when something unexpected happens are real.
How will you manage device returns when employees leave or change roles? How do you manage timely and secure device end-of-life? How can you confirm that are they safely decommissioned from your organization? Having a process in place enables you to answer these questions.
As the population of devices your organization comes to rely on grows and the volume of data you hold rises, it’s critical you maintain visibility and control. Proactive IT asset management is how you accomplish that goal.
If you would like more information on how to effectively manage your growing number of assets across their lifecycle as well as how to deploy, manage, monitor, and decommission your IT assets using Absolute, join our webinar: Effective Lifecycle Management with Absolute.