The Difference Between Cybersecurity Asset Management and IT Asset Management
Cybersecurity asset management and IT asset management can seem very similar on the surface. After all, both involve the systematic identification, classification, and tracking of all hardware, software, data, and network assets within an organization's environment. However, the goals of cybersecurity asset management and IT asset management are quite different. Because of this, how they are implemented, maintained, and used are quite different.
In order to understand these differences, let’s first explore each type of asset management.
Cybersecurity Asset Management
The primary goal of cybersecurity asset management is to gain a comprehensive understanding of an organization's digital assets in order to improve security and reduce risk.
Areas of cybersecurity that an asset management solution enables include:
Becoming cyber resilient starts with categorizing and classifying your assets based on their connection to critical business functions. This helps you prioritize security measures and resource allocation. Asset management is essential for business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) planning, ensuring that critical assets are accounted for in disaster recovery strategies.
Incident Detection and Response
Continuously monitoring and tracking assets allows your organization to detect changes or anomalies in your environment, aiding in the early identification of potential security incidents. Additionally, monitoring and tracking connections between your environment and third parties allows you to identify potential attack vectors, shadow IT, and other suspiciously abnormal activity. In the event of a cybersecurity incident, asset management provides a foundation for incident response teams to quickly identify affected assets, as well as assets connected to affected assets, and take appropriate action to investigate, contain, and mitigate the incident.
Attack Surface Management
Asset management is closely connected to attack surface management as it provides the comprehensive asset inventory needed in order for you to be able to track and monitor all third-party connections and identify potential attack vectors and exposure. Additionally, asset management aids in vulnerability management, a subset of attack surface management, as it helps identify which assets are vulnerable and require security patches or updates. It also helps prioritize asset remediation efforts based on asset criticality and potential risk.
Asset management is a record of what assets exist and how critical they are to a business function or for cybersecurity posture. This is vital information needed to determine who needs to have access to what assets and what level of permissions they should have, thus reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Maintaining an accurate inventory of assets is required to comply with various regulatory requirements and for audit purposes. Additionally, understanding the location of sensitive data and its interaction with various assets is essential for data protection and compliance with data privacy regulations.
Effective cybersecurity asset management enhances an organization's overall cybersecurity posture by providing a solid foundation for risk assessment, vulnerability management, access control, and incident response. It helps organizations make informed decisions about resource allocation and prioritization, ultimately contributing to better security operations.
IT Asset Management
The primary objectives of IT asset management (ITAM) are to ensure efficient utilization of IT resources, reduce costs, maintain compliance with software licenses, and enhance overall productivity.
Areas of IT management that are enabled by ITAM include:
ITAM tracks the lifecycle of assets, from acquisition and deployment to maintenance, upgrades, and ultimately disposal or decommissioning.
Continuously monitoring and tracking assets to ensure that they are used efficiently, help detect changes, and identify potential issues or anomalies.
ITAM allows organizations to control and optimize IT-related expenses by eliminating unnecessary assets, identifying underutilized resources, and streamlining procurement.
Managing software licenses and ensuring compliance with software licensing agreements helps prevent legal and financial risks.
Effective ITAM can lead to cost savings and improved operational efficiency for organizations of all sizes.
What’s the Difference?
The goals of cybersecurity asset management and ITAM are quite different. Cybersecurity asset management focuses on delivering the information and insights that inform and improve cybersecurity operations. ITAM focuses on improving IT operations. Because of this difference, how they are implemented, maintained, and used are quite different.
For example, both cybersecurity asset management and ITAM may be involved with patching systems. (For cybersecurity this is part of vulnerability management, while for IT this is generally considered part of regular maintenance and upgrades.)
The priority of the cybersecurity team will be to prioritize which patches are rolled out first based on the severity of the vulnerability (if any) that the patch will fix, as well as the criticality of the asset being patched. Decisions are made based on their impact on the overall security of the organization, and cybersecurity asset management facilitates this decision.
The IT team’s priority will be to minimize disruptions to operations while maintaining the health of the IT environment. ITAM is designed to help facilitate this decision-making process. If ITAM considers cybersecurity as part of this process, it is, at best, a secondary consideration.
This difference in decision-making criteria between the two different teams means that, in this example, what the cybersecurity team considers important patches that need to be made in order to address vulnerabilities may be vastly different from the patching priorities of the IT team.
This means that cybersecurity asset management and ITAM cannot be completely substituted for each other. Having an ITAM solution does not mean that your cybersecurity asset management needs are being addressed.
Upgrade Your Cybersecurity Asset Management
Redjack goes beyond basic cybersecurity asset management. The platform uses sensors in your network to identify communications between your connected devices, both within your environment and with third parties. It then uses that information to identify critical business functions, the assets that they are dependent upon, and how they are impacted by security gaps in your environment. It provides you with the visibility you need to improve your cyber resilience, create effective digital transformation plans, and improve compliance and lower risk.
Contact us to learn how Redjack helps the world's largest corporations and government agencies manage their cyber risk and drive resiliency efforts.