What is IT Asset Management (ITAM)?

Adam Roeckl - January 29, 2024

Digital asset management and cloud asset management are crucial disciplines in technology and cybersecurity. They fall under the broader umbrella of IT asset management (ITAM), which is essential for both operational efficiency and security hardening.

Traditionally, ITAM has focused on the operational side of things, such as inventory and hardware maintenance. However, with the continued digital transformation of enterprises, the role of ITAM in cybersecurity has become increasingly vital. Untracked or unsecured assets are attractive points of compromise and lateral movement for cyberattackers. A thorough understanding and strategic approach to managing all IT assets — from physical devices and data to cloud services — is key to preventing these vulnerabilities.

In this article, we’ll explore ITAM’s core concepts, including its key components and integration with broader cybersecurity strategies.

Understanding the basics of IT asset management

When talking about asset management, we’re looking at a wide range of assets. The assets within ITAM’s purview include digital assets, cloud assets, and traditional hardware assets.

An IT asset is any information, system, or hardware used in business activities. These include:

  • Digital assets such as data, images, video, written content, emails, websites, software, and more
  • Cloud assets such as cloud services and infrastructure
  • Hardware assets such as servers, endpoints, and laptops

The goal of asset management

The primary objective of ITAM is to oversee the full life cycle of IT assets, ensuring their effective use and compliance with various regulations. Ultimately, ITAM is about ensuring each asset contributes to a business’s overall strategy. This involves tracking an asset from acquisition until retirement, ensuring that the asset is up-to-date and functioning optimally throughout its life cycle.

The relationship between ITAM and risk management

If you’re unaware of certain assets in your system, then these can be weak points in your security that attackers could exploit. For example, what if your systems include an unmonitored device running outdated software? Overlooked and forgotten, this would be an easy target for adversaries. Similarly, any unauthorized or malicious software on any asset poses a significant risk. ITAM helps your enterprise keep an eye on all your assets, aiding in identifying and mitigating these risks.

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Key components of IT asset management

Effective ITAM involves several key components. Let’s break them down to understand how they contribute to a comprehensive ITAM strategy.

Inventory management

Inventory management involves tracking and documenting all of an organization’s IT assets. This begins with a centralized asset inventory that includes hardware, software, cloud resources, and internet of things (IoT) devices. Detailed and kept up-to-date, a centralized inventory helps track each asset’s location, usage, and condition.

The inventory should undergo regular audits and updates to account for all assets. This helps prevent the introduction of unauthorized devices or software into the network.

License management

To avoid legal issues and financial penalties, organizations must also track software licenses, including ownership, terms, and expiration dates. Proper management of this area ensures that all software in use is properly licensed. With effective license management, an organization can optimize software expenditures by identifying unused or underused licenses that can be discontinued or reallocated.

Life cycle management

Managing the entire life cycle of an IT asset begins with procurement, ensuring that the asset meets the necessary security and operational standards. Then, deployment involves assigning and/or installing the asset within the network. From there, regular maintenance and updates — including applying patches and hardware or software upgrades — keep the asset functioning efficiently and securely.

Finally, ITAM includes securely decommissioning an asset when it reaches the end of its life cycle. This prevents data breaches by ensuring the proper erasure of data and safe disposal or recycling of hardware.

Integrating ITAM with cybersecurity

Integrating ITAM within an organization’s cybersecurity strategy is essential. IT environments are growing in complexity, and cyber threats are growing in sophistication.

Enhancing security posture

By integrating ITAM with your cybersecurity, you can enhance your organization’s security posture. Comprehensive asset visibility — knowing what assets you have, where they are, and what their security status is — is essential for identifying vulnerabilities and protecting against threats. ITAM provides this visibility.

Identifying and mitigating risks

ITAM helps you identify assets with outdated or inadequate security measures. You can mitigate risk by spotting these unsecured assets before vulnerabilities are exploited. Additionally, it can help you track accounts across assets and help you prevent unauthorized access and usage.

By keeping all of your assets updated and secure, you can proactively manage risks. Regular patching and monitoring for anomalous activity are effective measures for ensuring basic security.

Aiding in compliance

Many regulatory bodies (based either on geography or industry) require organizations to maintain an accurate inventory of their IT assets to ensure their security. Organizations that undergo compliance audits or need to submit regular reports lean on their ITAM tools to help satisfy these requirements. ITAM provides the necessary documentation and reporting capabilities to demonstrate compliance.

Traditionally, ITAM and cybersecurity tools have operated separately and in silos. However, the growing need for integrated solutions brings together ITAM and cybersecurity for more effective overall management. Cybersecurity platforms integrate ITAM to offer a more unified approach to managing and securing assets. CrowdStrike Falcon® Exposure Management, part of the CrowdStrike Falcon® platform, brings comprehensive asset discovery and attack surface visibility to modern enterprises, solving the siloed ITAM problem.

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Public cloud services and cloud assets are agile and dynamic environments. Close oversight of these assets is a critical component of your asset management and security practices. Learn more!Blog: 3 Ways Visualization Improves Cloud Asset Management and Security

Asset visibility is essential

ITAM is much more than an asset inventory task; it’s an integral part of a cybersecurity strategy that mitigates risk and hardens enterprise security through comprehensive asset visibility. How do cybersecurity tools with ITAM integration make this possible?

  • Visualizing complex relationships: Tools like Falcon Exposure Management and CrowdStrike® Asset Graph™ allow you to see maps of how assets are interconnected and visualize attack paths that make you vulnerable. With a clear understanding of how your IT assets provide inroads to cyber threats, your security team is equipped to take proactive measures.
  • Comprehensive visibility: CrowdStrike Falcon® Discover gives you a comprehensive view of all your IT assets — digital assets, cloud assets, physical hardware, and more — empowering you to achieve effective management and security. With holistic visibility, no asset is left undiscovered, unmonitored, or unprotected.

In our modern digital landscape, the blurred line between IT operations and cybersecurity has made ITAM an essential practice. Beyond simply tracking assets, ITAM ensures that your organization understands how each asset affects your overall security security posture so that you can manage them accordingly.

By leveraging advanced ITAM-related tools like Falcon Exposure Management, Asset Graph, and Falcon Discover, your organization can achieve a more comprehensive and secure ITAM strategy. For more information, sign up for a demo or contact us to learn more.

GET TO KNOW THE AUTHOR

Adam Roeckl is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at CrowdStrike focusing on IoT/OT Security and Risk Management. Throughout his career in cybersecurity, Adam has built expertise in Security Operations, Threat Intelligence, Managed Security Services, Network Security, and AI/ML. Prior to CrowdStrike, he held Product Marketing roles at Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler. Adam holds a B.A. in Economics and Business Legal Studies from Miami University of Ohio and is now a resident of Golden, CO.