Identify Your IT Assets To Enhance Your Network Security – Chuck Leaver

Written By Roark Pollock And Presented By Chuck Leaver CEO Ziften

Dependable IT asset management and discovery can be a network and security admin’s friend.

I do not need to inform you the apparent; we all understand an excellent security program starts with an audit of all the devices connected to the network. Nevertheless, keeping an existing stock of every linked device utilized by employees and company partners is difficult. Even more hard is guaranteeing that there are no linked unmanaged assets.

Exactly what is an Un-managed Asset?

Networks can have thousands of connected devices. These might consist of the following among others:

– User devices such as laptops, desktops, workstations, virtual desktop systems, bring your own devices (BYOD), cellular phones, and tablets.

– Cloud and Data center devices such as servers, virtual machines (VM), orphaned VM’s, containers, and storage systems.

– Networking devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, and WiFi access points.

– Other devices such as printers, and more recently – Internet of things (IoT) devices.

Unfortunately, much of these connected devices might be unknown to IT, or not handled by IT group policies. These unidentified devices and those not managed by IT policies are described as “unmanaged assets.”

The variety of un-managed assets continues to rise for lots of businesses. Ziften discovers that as many as 30% to 50% of all connected devices could be un-managed assets in today’s enterprise networks.

IT asset management tools are typically optimized to identify assets such as PCs, servers, load balancers, firewalls, and storage devices utilized to deliver business applications to organization. Nevertheless, these management tools typically overlook assets not owned by the company, such as BYOD endpoints, or user-deployed wireless access points. Even more uncomfortable is that Gartner asserts in “Beyond BYOD to IoT, Your Business Network Access Policy Need to Change”, that IoT devices have surpassed workers and visitors as the biggest user of the enterprise network.1.

Gartner goes on to describe a new pattern that will introduce even more unmanaged assets into the business environment – bring your own things (BYOT).

Essentially, employees bringing items which were developed for the wise home, into the office environment. Examples include wise power sockets, smart kettles, wise coffee machines, clever light bulbs, domestic sensors, wireless web cams, plant care sensors, environmental protections, and eventually, home robotics. Many of these items will be brought in by staff seeking to make their workplace more congenial. These “things” can pick up info, can be managed by apps, and can communicate with cloud services.1.

Why is it Crucial to Identify Un-managed Assets?

Quite simply, unmanaged assets create IT and security blind spots. Mike Hamilton, SVP of Product at Ziften said, “Security begins with understanding exactly what physical and virtual devices are connected to the organization network. However, BYOD, shadow IT, IoT, and virtualization are making that more tough.”.

These blind spots not just enhance security and compliance risk, they can increase legal threats. Info retention policies created to restrict legal liability are not likely to be applied to electronically saved details consisted of on unauthorized virtual, mobile and cloud assets.

Preserving an up-to-date inventory of the assets on your network is crucial to great security. It’s common sense; if you do not know it exists, you can’t know if it is secure. In fact, asset visibility is so essential that it is a fundamental part of the majority of information security frameworks consisting of:

– SANS Critical Security Controls for effective cyber defense: Establishing a stock of licensed and unauthorized devices is primary on the list.

– Council on CyberSecurity Crucial Security Controls: Producing a stock of licensed and unauthorized devices is the first control in the prioritized list.

– NIST Info Security Continuous Tracking for Federal Info Systems and Organizations – SP 800-137: Information security continuous tracking is defined as preserving continuous awareness of info security, vulnerabilities, and hazards to support organizational threat management choices.

– ISO/IEC 27001 Information Management Security System Requirements: The standard requires that all assets be clearly recognized and an inventory of very important assets be drawn up and kept.

– Ziften’s Adaptive Security Framework: The very first pillar includes discovery of all your licensed and unapproved physical and virtual devices.

Factors To Consider in Evaluating Asset Discovery Solutions.

There are several techniques utilized for asset identification and network mapping, and each of the methods have benefits and downsides. While evaluating the myriad tools, keep these two crucial factors to consider in mind:.

Continuous versus point-in-time.

Strong info security requires constant asset identification despite what method is utilized. However, many scanning strategies used in asset discovery take some time to finish, and are thus performed regularly. The drawback to point-in-time asset identification is that short-term systems may just be on the network for a brief time. Therefore, it is extremely possible that these transient systems will not be discovered.

Some discovery strategies can trigger security notifications in network firewall software, intrusion detection systems, or infection scanning tools. Since these strategies can be disruptive, identification is just executed at regular, point-in-time periods.

There are, however, some asset discovery techniques that can be used continuously to locate and recognize linked assets. Tools that offer constant tracking for un-managed assets can provide better un-managed asset discovery results.

” Because passive detection operates 24 × 7, it will spot transitory assets that might just be periodically and quickly linked to the network and can send out notifications when brand-new assets are found.”.

Passive versus active.

Asset discovery tools supply intelligence on all discovered assets consisting of IP address, hostname, MAC address, device manufacturer, as well as the device type. This innovation helps operations teams quickly clean up their environments, eliminating rogue and un-managed devices – even VM expansion. However, these tools tackle this intelligence gathering differently.

Tools that utilize active network scanning successfully probe the network to coax actions from devices. These responses provide hints that help recognize and fingerprint the device. Active scanning regularly analyzes the network or a segment of the network for devices that are connected to the network at the time of the scan.

Active scanning can normally supply more extensive analysis of vulnerabilities, malware detection, and configuration and compliance auditing. However, active scanning is performed regularly because of its disruptive nature with security infrastructure. Regrettably, active scanning dangers missing out on short-term devices and vulnerabilities that occur between scheduled scans.

Other tools use passive asset discovery methods. Since passive detection operates 24 × 7, it will identify temporal assets that may just be occasionally and briefly linked to the network and can send notifications when new assets are discovered.

Additionally, passive discovery does not disrupt sensitive devices on the network, such as commercial control systems, and permits visibility of Web and cloud services being accessed from systems on the network. Further passive discovery techniques avoid activating notifications on security tools throughout the network.

In Summary.

BYOD, shadow IT, IoT, virtualization, and Gartner’s newly-coined BYOT indicate more and more assets on to the organization network. Regrettably, many of these assets are unknown or unmanaged by IT. These unmanaged assets position severe security holes. Getting rid of these unmanaged assets from the network – which are far more most likely to be “patient zero” – or bringing them up to business security requirements significantly reduces a company’s attack surface and general risk. The bright side is that there are options that can provide continuous, passive discovery of unmanaged assets.

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