Cybersecurity asset management is the process of finding, organizing, and managing an organization's digital assets to protect them from cyber threats. It includes knowing each asset's worth, importance, and limitations and establishing appropriate controls and measures to reduce threats.
Asset management in cybersecurity refers to the systematic process of identifying, categorizing, and monitoring digital assets within an organization's network infrastructure to ensure security and minimize risk exposure. It involves assessing and monitoring assets, protecting them, and ensuring their integrity throughout their lifecycle.
According to Enterprise Strategy Group, 73% of companies admit they only have a "strong knowledge" of less than 80% of their assets. The average time to detect and contain a data breach is 277 days. The total number of cyberattacks yearly went up by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021. Weekly cyberattacks increased by 7% in Q1 2023 compared to last year.
We will explore what asset management is in the context of cybersecurity and why organizations should consider engaging a cybersecurity provider or subscribing to third-party cybersecurity services to enhance their security posture.
What is Asset Management Cybersecurity?
Asset management in cybersecurity refers to identifying, classifying, and managing an organization's digital assets to protect them from security risks. It involves understanding asset value, location, and vulnerability, including hardware, software, data, and network resources.
Key Cybersecurity Asset Types and Risks
|Physical devices like computers, servers, ICS/OT devices
|Unauthorized access, theft, damage
|Apps, databases, OS, firmware, utilities
|Vulnerabilities, unauthorized changes
|Files, databases, archives, backups
|Breaches, leaks, deletion, corruption
|Switches, firewalls, routers, connections
|Disruption of access, snooping, takeover
|Staff, contractors, partners
|Errors, misuse, social engineering
|Manuals, procedures, drawings
|Inaccurate info, lack of institutional knowledge
By implementing an asset management framework, organizations gain visibility into their assets, enabling them to prioritize security efforts, detect vulnerabilities, and respond to incidents effectively.
Securing Your Operational Technology Infrastructure: Asset Identification and Protection"
To identify the operational technology (OT) assets that require protection, it is necessary to assess the specific systems and infrastructure present within your organization. Depending on your industry and operational environment, here are some common OT assets that need protection:
These include Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and other devices used to monitor and manage industrial operations. They are necessary for infrastructure to work, like power plants, factories, and water treatment plants.
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
PLCs are devices used in many businesses to manage and control tools and processes. They play a vital role in manufacturing, power generation, and other critical infrastructure. Securing PLCs is essential to prevent unauthorized access and potential issues.
Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs)
HMIs are graphical interfaces that allow operators to monitor and control industrial processes. These connections should be protected so that they can't be accessed, changed, or disrupted by people who shouldn't be able to, as they are a crucial point of contact between operators and the underlying OT systems.
Industrial Sensors and Actuators
These devices collect data and initiate physical actions in response to control signals. Sensors monitor variables like temperature, pressure, and flow, while actuators control valves, motors, and other physical components. By keeping these gadgets safe, you can be sure that the data is correct and reliable and that no one else can change it.
Data Historians and Loggers
These systems collect and store operational data, including process variables, alarms, and events. They play a vital role in monitoring and analyzing the performance of OT assets, as well as facilitating compliance with regulatory requirements.
Remote Terminal Units (RTUs)
RTUs monitor and control remote equipment or processes, typically in oil and gas, utilities, and transportation industries. Ensuring the security of these devices is essential to maintain the integrity and availability of critical operations.
While the focus is often on cybersecurity, physical security is equally important. Physical assets like power supply systems, computer rooms, control rooms, and access control methods need to be protected so that they can't be accessed or changed by people who shouldn't be able to.
Software and Firmware
OT systems usually work with the help of software and tools that are designed for them. The latest security fixes should be installed on these assets and checked for flaws frequently. When software or code is changed without permission, it can cause system problems or let people in who shouldn't be there.
Backup and Recovery Systems
Having robust backup and recovery mechanisms is crucial for the continuity of operations. Regularly backing up critical OT assets and ensuring that recovery systems are in place can help mitigate the impact of potential failures or cyber incidents.
The Significance of Asset Management in Cybersecurity:
Effective asset management protects an organization's digital infrastructure by detecting vulnerabilities and managing threats. Asset management in cybersecurity helps organizations protect their assets' integrity, availability, and confidentiality. Here are some of the essential reasons why managing assets is significant in cybersecurity:
This involves inventorying all digital assets within an organization's infrastructure. It includes identifying and documenting hardware devices, software applications, data repositories, network components, and other technology resources.
Once identified, the assets must be categorized based on their criticality and sensitivity. This helps prioritize the security measures and allocate appropriate resources based on the value and importance of each asset.
Risk Assessment and Mitigation
Asset management enables organizations to conduct comprehensive risk assessments. By knowing how much an asset is worth and how it works with other assets, possible risks can be found, and the proper security measures can be implemented to reduce those risks.
It is essential to check and evaluate assets for weaknesses regularly. This can be done with the help of vulnerability management scanning tools, which look for security holes and suggest how to fix them. Patch management is essential to risk management because it ensures that software and systems have installed the latest security fixes.
Keeping software and systems updated with the latest patches is crucial to protect against known vulnerabilities. A strong patch management method ensures that security changes and fixes are implemented quickly, making threats less likely to work.
Asset Tracking and Monitoring
Continuous tracking and monitoring of assets are essential to ensure their ongoing security. This means keeping an eye on network traffic, keeping a log of system events, and using intrusion detection systems to find any strange activities or attempts to get in without permission.
Real-time tracking helps organizations find possible security problems and act quickly to fix them.
Asset Lifecycle Management
Digital assets have a lifecycle that includes acquisition, deployment, maintenance, and retirement. Asset management ensures that each asset is properly managed throughout its lifecycle, including regular updates, patches, and upgrades to mitigate vulnerabilities and ensure security.
Incident Response and Recovery
Asset management plays a vital role in incident response and recovery. Organizations can quickly detect and manage security issues, analyze the damage, and restore services by knowing their assets. This minimizes downtime and reduces the overall impact of security breaches.
Asset Retirement and Disposal
As assets age or become obsolete, proper retirement and disposal processes are necessary to prevent data leakage and unauthorized access. Organizations must securely erase data from retired assets and adequately dispose of hardware devices to minimize the risk of data breaches.
Many industries have stringent regulations and standards regarding the protection of sensitive data. Proper asset management ensures these rules are followed by keeping a list of assets, keeping an eye on how secure they are, and putting in place the controls needed to protect data privacy.
Third-Party Risk Management
Asset management isn't just about an organization's assets; it also includes handling the risks involved with third-party suppliers or sources of information. Organizations may reduce asset risk by monitoring and analyzing external assets' security posture by ensuring their partners use proper cybersecurity measures.
Compliance Considerations for Asset Management
|Key Asset Management Implications
|Inventory and track all system components, implement access controls
|Conduct risk analysis, manage ePHI lifecycle, encryption
|Records of data processing activities, data mapping, breach notification
|Control and document change management, access controls
|Asset inventory, risk assessments, system security plans
Hypothetical Real-Life Scenario
A leading global technology firm recently experienced a cyberattack that resulted in a significant data breach. The attack exposed private customer information, intellectual property, and internal business data. The event has hurt the company's finances and image. The corporation invested in cybersecurity, concentrating on asset management, to avoid similar events in the future.
Definition and Identification
The company initiates a comprehensive asset management program to gain visibility into its digital assets. Asset management in cybersecurity is finding and classifying all digital resources an organization owns or uses. This includes hardware, software, data, and cloud-based services.
Common Asset Management Tasks and Workflow
|Inventory assets, document details, classify and prioritize
|Analyze value, criticality, risks, dependencies
|Implement controls like access management, encryption
|Track assets, monitor for issues, vulnerability scans
|Incident response, impact analysis, recovery
|Generate reports on status, risks, compliance
Inventory and Documentation
A dedicated team is formed to inventory all assets. They record each asset's purpose, location, owner, configuration, and dangers in a single asset repository. This helps the organization comprehend each asset's worth and criticality, enabling better security decisions.
Asset Management Program Roles
|Owns asset inventory, oversees program
|Implements controls, vulnerability management
|Conducts risk assessments, prioritization
|Manages hardware and software assets
|Classifies data assets, access controls
|Reviews asset compliance, policies
|Provides strategic direction, budget
Risk Assessment and Prioritization
The asset repository is used to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. This review helps the company focus its cybersecurity efforts on the most critical assets most likely to be attacked or whose loss would have profound effects.
Access Control and Authentication
The company implements full access control mechanisms to mitigate unauthorized access and ensure proper user authentication. It employs multifactor authentication for all critical systems, restricts user privileges based on roles and responsibilities, and regularly reviews and updates access permissions.
Patch and Vulnerability Management
The company establishes a proactive patch and vulnerability management process to address weaknesses in its assets. Operating systems, software apps, and networking equipment are regularly updated and patched for protection. Vulnerability checks and penetration tests are done to find and fix security holes before criminals can use them.
Asset Lifecycle Management
The company maintains a vigilant approach to cybersecurity throughout the asset lifecycle. It securely decommissions outdated assets, monitors asset ownership changes, and assesses and integrates new assets into the asset management framework. Also, the company keeps an eye on its assets and looks at them often to find new risks and deal with them.
Incident Response and Recovery
In the event of a security incident or breach, the company has an incident response plan incorporating asset management practices. The plan includes protocols for detecting, containing, and mitigating the impact of an incident on critical assets. It also outlines the steps for restoring operations and conducting forensic analysis to identify the incident's root cause.
Training and Awareness
The company knows how important it is to educate and inform its employees, so it holds regular training classes and marketing programs. Employees learn about the importance of asset management in cybersecurity and how to handle assets safely, spot risks, and report suspicious activity.
The company establishes a strong foundation for cybersecurity defenses by implementing a robust asset management program. The company improves digital asset visibility, risk-based security, and incident response. This proactive strategy helps secure important assets, reduce possible risks, and preserve consumer data and the company's image in the ever-changing cybersecurity market.
Partner with a Cybersecurity Provider or Subscribe to Third-Party Services
Alternatively, organizations can choose to subscribe to third-party cybersecurity services. Providers specializing in certain cybersecurity areas, like vulnerability surveys, penetration testing, threat intelligence, or incident response, offer these services. Subscribing to third-party services gives firms access to specialized knowledge and security solutions.
On-Demand Access to Expertise
By subscribing to cybersecurity services, companies have immediate access to skilled professionals who can assess, monitor, and protect their assets. This eliminates the need for extensive in-house security expertise.
Expertise and Specialization
Cybersecurity companies have the information, skills, and specific tools to deal with constantly changing threats. They keep up with the latest security trends, weaknesses, and best practices. This means that businesses can benefit from their deep knowledge of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity providers have access to advanced technologies and tools that help organizations implement robust asset management practices. From vulnerability scanning and threat intelligence platforms to security information and event management systems, these technologies provide the necessary capabilities to monitor, detect, and respond to security incidents effectively.
Comprehensive Security Solutions
Partnering with a cybersecurity provider offers access to comprehensive security solutions tailored to an organization's specific needs. These solutions encompass asset identification, vulnerability assessments, incident response, threat intelligence, and ongoing monitoring.
Compliance and Regulation
Cybersecurity companies know a lot about different legal systems, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI DSS, which are industry-specific standards. They can help organizations align their asset management methods with these rules, ensuring they follow the law and lowering the risk of getting fined or facing other legal consequences.
Threat Detection and Incident Response
Cybersecurity services offer proactive threat detection capabilities, including advanced analytics and artificial intelligence-driven techniques. They can swiftly identify potential threats, anomalies, or breaches, enabling organizations to respond promptly and effectively, mitigating the impact.
Scalability and Cost-effectiveness
Engaging a cybersecurity provider or subscribing to third-party cybersecurity services offers scalability and cost-effectiveness. Organizations can leverage the provider's infrastructure, expertise, and resources without substantial upfront investments in building an in-house cybersecurity team and infrastructure.
Factors When Evaluating Cybersecurity Providers
|Experience, credentials, specializations
|Tools for asset management, threat detection, response
|Asset inventory, monitoring, assessments, planning
|Expertise in regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc
|Cost structure, scalability, value
|Responsiveness, communication, support
|Reviews, case studies, thought leadership
|Interoperability, APIs, ecosystem support
Cybersecurity asset management will include advanced tracking, categorization, and risk assessment of physical and virtual assets. Real-time visibility, vulnerability detection, and proactive mitigation can help enterprises stay ahead of developing threats with enhanced automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Also, combining asset management with threat intelligence and incident response methods will help hacks be quickly found, stopped, and fixed. As the cyber world gets more complicated, future methods of managing assets will need to be flexible, adjustable, and scalable to protect the critical digital infrastructure of organizations.