How to Improve IT Asset Management With the CyCognito Platform

By Dixie Fisher, Senior Product Marketing Manager | July 9, 2021
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Discover Unknown Assets for Both Better Business and Risk Management

The goal of asset management is to ensure that an organization's assets are accounted for, deployed, maintained, upgraded, and disposed of when the time comes. Successfully addressing this foundational business process isn’t easily achieved because asset management tools (or, in many cases, a spreadsheet) are designed to just catalog assets that you know about. These tools don't help identify unknown and unmanaged assets, and this presents a huge security risk to your organization. 

Asset management is foundational for meeting the requirements of several cybersecurity frameworks, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework (NIST CSF), the Center for Internet Security’s (CIS) controls, ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and the Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT). The process of inventorying and managing your enterprise IT assets all the software and hardware assets on your network has always been challenging, but the acceleration of digital transformation across the global enterprise landscape increases the challenges, and demands an expansion of asset management practices.

Asset Management Tools Help You Manage Known Assets

The internet is the new network. And most enterprise IT and security teams do not have a view of their internet-exposed assets that includes on-premises, cloud, partner and subsidiary environments. When assets in these environments aren’t known or inventoried, they can’t be protected from cyberattacks. Some IT asset management (ITAM) products offer asset discovery, but that discovery process is focused only on known and managed areas of your organization and networks. This rudimentary IP-range-based discovery won’t find assets outside of those ranges, nor will it look for things like domains or certificates. Some ITAM tools use or look for agents installed on your systems, so will only discover assets that were known in the first place. In short, you won’t get a complete view of your attacker-exposed assets.

With the CyCognito platform, discovery, inventory, and categorization of your assets is just the first step. We can automatically feed all of that information into your ITAM or configuration management database (CMDB) tool so that you can move on and address the question, “what needs to be done to secure these assets?”

Beyond the assets that we help you bring under management, our next step is to discover and assess the security of all of the assets in your extended IT ecosystem, including your organization’s unknown and unmanaged external assets, whether on-premises or in cloud, partner or subsidiary environments. On average, our platform discovers 30-70% more of an organization’s attack surface than was known prior to using it, thus identifying a significantly more accurate view of your attacker-exposed assets.

Finding External Assets That Other Solutions Miss

The CyCognito platform is able to identify and categorize externally exposed assets missed by ITAM discovery tools and even attack surface mapping tools designed for discovery. CyCognito performs incognito, attacker-like reconnaissance that discovers and fingerprints digital assets globally. 

Without input or configuration, the CyCognito platform discovers your cloud-based assets, unknown, unmanaged and abandoned assets, partner and subsidiary assets, as well as assets you manage. Then the platform classifies and organizes your assets by their business context and relationship to your organization and captures those relationships in a graph data model. That provides you with a clear view of all of your externally exposed assets — what each one is and how it relates to your business. This foundation allows you to progress from basic asset management to the governance and cybersecurity risk controls of whatever IT or cybersecurity framework you follow.  

Key Benefits of Using the CyCognito Platform to Eliminate Asset Management Blind Spots

Here are key benefits of the CyCognito platform’s asset identification and management approach. 

1. Intelligent, Comprehensive Discovery of Externally-Exposed Assets 

The CyCognito platform is able to identify assets that are related to your organization that other tools miss, because it is able to find business-level connections of assets to your organization even if there is not a connection to your IT infrastructure. For example, it can identify your company’s brand, subsidiary and affiliate assets that are not IT-connected, such as abandoned subsidiary assets. Identifying and decommissioning them is critical to effective asset management and cybersecurity best practices.

2. Continuous Asset Discovery

Your IT assets are in a constant state of flux, so continuous identification of newly emerging assets is essential. By continuously discovering and fingerprinting all of your internet-exposed digital assets, the CyCognito platform gives you ongoing visibility of all the assets in your ever-changing attack surface. 

3. Automatic Asset Classification and Assignment to Organizational Groups

While it’s important to identify all of your assets, all of the time, you don’t want to treat them all equally. CyCognito helps you quickly identify those assets that are most critical for your team to protect. The CyCognito platform automatically and accurately assigns assets to the appropriate business unit or subsidiary within your organization. It uses innovative mathematical graphing techniques along with machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to understand and map the relationships between discovered assets and companies, with business context. With this method, the CyCognito platform is able to automatically classify your attack surface assets and attribute them to the appropriate business organization or IT platform. 

The CyCognito platform improves the effectiveness of ITAM and CMDB tools by providing visibility to more assets and delivering context about each asset at a lower cost and greater frequency than other methods. 

Instead of having to manually assign each asset to an organization as most attack surface mapping and many CMDB and ITAM solutions require, your organization benefits from the automated intelligence of the CyCognito platform. It continually refines its understanding of your assets and where they should be assigned and propagates that intelligence to new assets. And you have the ability to further tune the results and help teach the platform about the intricacies of your organization, so that with just a few easy steps, the CyCognito platform is able to efficiently assign any remaining unclassified assets for you. 

The platform’s asset identification by organization can be integrated into your ITAM or CMDB system and offer significant time savings to your organization since you don’t have to manually assign assets.

4. Test the Security of External Assets

Beyond discovery and classification, the CyCognito platform identifies and evaluates the risks associated with each external asset and clearly communicates how you should prioritize those risks and how you should remediate them. 

Using its understanding of your attack surface and how attackers perform reconnaissance, the platform identifies which assets are most attractive to and exploitable by attackers and assigns each asset a security grade (A-F). We detect data exposures, authentication and encryption weaknesses, misconfigured applications, network architecture flaws, phishing threats and other risks as well as common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) and more. 

The CyCognito platform then evaluates the discoverability of the attack vector, its complexity, and the potential impact to your business if it is exploited. This detailed information is used to calculate the severity score, which helps your security team members know where to focus first. And the platform provides actionable remediation guidance and validation to speed their efforts. 

5. Integration with Your Asset Management Workflows

You can integrate all of the rich asset intelligence that the CyCognito platform delivers automatically into your asset management workflow or with custom and pre-built workflow recipes in the platform that take just minutes to implement or via the platform’s API. 

In short, CyCognito employs advanced methodologies to identify all of your attack surface assets so that your asset inventory and management processes are built on a solid foundation. And once we help you do that, we’ll give you the information you need to proactively protect those assets. 

About Dixie Fisher, Senior Product Marketing Manager

Dixie Fisher, Senior Product Marketing Manager, has been marketing innovative security solutions and best practices for over a decade.

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