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Everything You Need To Know About IT Asset Management (But Were Afraid To Ask)

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IT asset management is often the elephant in the room that IT, security and senior executives try to ignore, until a security incident or other event sheds light on how critical it is. Asset tracking – and the inevitable data cleanup – of everything from the virtual and physical servers that keep your business running smoothly to the smartphones and other devices your employees use daily is a persistent problem for organizations of all sizes and industries.

Despite being an important foundation underpinning your company’s ability to execute well on critical security functions such as incident response and vulnerability management, few companies have comprehensive and accurate asset management strategies in place. IT asset management needs to answer the question of what, where, and how IT assets are being used. This data supports security’s questions of “which devices are vulnerable to the latest threat?” and “which devices need the most recent vendor patch?”

Although IT asset management may be viewed as a perpetually unsolved problem, it doesn’t need to be the most difficult one. Like brushing your teeth, you may not enjoy it, but you need to do it on a regular basis to prevent future pain and significant expense. Practicing due diligence is a must.

Here are four ways to successfully tackle asset management at your organization with less pain and more gain.

Narrow your thinking. Even the term “asset” gives many practitioners pause because, in a cybersecurity and IT context, an asset simultaneously refers to physical hardware devices, virtual assets like software and even data itself. Asset management on the whole includes all assets of value, although data is typically handled independently from traditional IT asset management, with control mechanisms defined and applied to different data classifications.

Limit the scope of your IT asset management endeavors to the traditional IT categorization of hardware and software, knowing that what you do about those assets (once you know you have them) will be driven by the value of the data they contain and the protections dictated by your data classification standard. For example, you may need to monitor certain servers’ access more than others if it contains systems which house confidential data.