Written By Roark Pollock And Presented By Charles Leaver CEO Ziften


Trustworthy IT asset management and discovery can be a network and security admin’s best friend.

I do not need to inform you the apparent; we all understand an excellent security program starts with an inventory of all the devices connected to the network. Nevertheless, preserving an existing inventory of every linked device utilized by staff members and organisation partners is challenging. A lot more difficult is ensuring that there are no linked unmanaged assets.

What is an Unmanaged Asset?

Networks can have countless connected devices. These may consist of the following to name a few:

– User devices such as laptop computers, desktops, workstations, virtual desktop systems, bring your own devices (BYOD), mobile phones, and tablet devices.

– Data center and cloud devices such as servers, virtual machines (VM), orphaned VM’s, containers, and storage systems.

– Networking devices such as routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, and WiFi access points.

– Other devices such as printers, and more just recently – Internet of things (IoT) devices.

Unfortunately, much of these connected devices may be unknown to IT, or not handled by IT group policies. These unknown devices and those not managed by IT policies are referred to as “unmanaged assets.”

The variety of un-managed assets continues to rise for lots of companies. Ziften discovers that as many as 30% to 50% of all connected devices can be unmanaged assets in today’s business networks.

IT asset management tools are normally enhanced to spot assets such as computers, servers, load balancers, firewalls, and devices for storage utilized to provide enterprise applications to organization. However, these management tools typically neglect assets not owned by the organization, such as BYOD endpoints, or user-deployed wireless access points. A lot more unpleasant is that Gartner asserts in “Beyond BYOD to IoT, Your Business Network Access Policy Need to Change”, that IoT devices have gone beyond staff members and guests as the biggest user of the business network.1.

Gartner goes on to describe a new trend that will present even more unmanaged assets into the organization environment – bring your own things (BYOT).

Essentially, staff members bringing items which were designed for the clever home, into the workplace environment. Examples consist of clever power sockets, wise kettles, clever coffee machines, smart light bulbs, domestic sensing units, wireless webcams, plant care sensors, environmental protections, and ultimately, home robots. Much of these things will be brought in by personnel seeking to make their working environment more congenial. These “things” can pick up info, can be controlled by apps, and can interact with cloud services.1.

Why is it Essential to Identify Unmanaged Assets?

Quite simply, unmanaged assets create IT and security blind spots. Mike Hamilton, SVP of Product at Ziften stated, “Security starts with knowing exactly what physical and virtual devices are linked to the corporate network. But, BYOD, shadow IT, IoT, and virtualization are making that more tough.”.

These blind spots not just increase security and compliance risk, they can increase legal risk. Info retention policies designed to limit legal liability are not likely to be applied to electronically stored info contained on unauthorized virtual, mobile and cloud assets.

Maintaining a current inventory of the assets on your network is vital to excellent security. It’s common sense; if you do not know it exists, you can’t understand if it is secure. In fact, asset visibility is so crucial that it is a fundamental part of many info security infrastructures consisting of:

– SANS Crucial Security Controls for reliable cyber defense: Developing an inventory of licensed and unapproved devices is top on the list.

– Council on CyberSecurity Critical Security Controls: Developing an inventory of authorized and unapproved devices is the very first control in the focused list.

– NIST Details Security Constant Tracking for Federal Info Systems and Organizations – SP 800-137: Info security continuous monitoring is specified as preserving ongoing awareness of info security, vulnerabilities, and risks to support organizational risk management decisions.

– ISO/IEC 27001 Information Management Security System Requirements: The standard needs that assets be plainly identified and a stock of very important assets be prepared and preserved.

– Ziften’s Adaptive Security Framework: The first pillar consists of discovery of all your authorized and unauthorized physical and virtual devices.

Considerations in Evaluating Asset Discovery Solutions.

There are multiple strategies utilized for asset identification and network mapping, and each of the techniques have advantages and drawbacks. While assessing the myriad tools, keep these 2 essential considerations in mind:.

Constant versus point-in-time.

Strong info security requires continuous asset identification no matter exactly what approach is employed. Nevertheless, numerous scanning strategies used in asset identification take time to finish, and are thus performed occasionally. The drawback to point-in-time asset identification is that short-term systems might just be on the network for a short time. Therefore, it is extremely possible that these short-term systems will not be discovered.

Some discovery methods can activate security notifications in network firewalls, intrusion detection systems, or infection scanning tools. Because these techniques can be disruptive, identification is just performed at regular, point-in-time periods.

There are, however, some asset discovery techniques that can be used continually to locate and recognize linked assets. Tools that offer constant monitoring for un-managed assets can deliver much better un-managed asset discovery outcomes.

” Since passive detection runs 24 × 7, it will discover temporal assets that might just be periodically and briefly linked to the network and can send alerts when new assets are found.”.

Passive versus active.

Asset identification tools offer intelligence on all found assets consisting of IP address, hostname, MAC address, device manufacturer, as well as the device type. This technology helps operations groups quickly tidy up their environments, removing rogue and un-managed devices – even VM expansion. Nevertheless, these tools go about this intelligence gathering in a different way.

Tools that utilize active network scanning efficiently probe the network to coax actions from devices. These reactions offer ideas that help determine and finger print the device. Active scanning occasionally analyzes the network or a segment of the network for devices that are linked to the network at the time of the scan.

Active scanning can typically offer more extensive analysis of vulnerabilities, detection of malware, and setup and compliance auditing. However, active scanning is performed occasionally because of its disruptive nature with security infrastructure. Regrettably, active scanning dangers missing short-term devices and vulnerabilities that arise between scheduled scans.

Other tools utilize passive asset discovery strategies. Because passive detection runs 24 × 7, it will spot transitory assets that might just be periodically and briefly connected to the network and can send notifications when brand-new assets are discovered.

Furthermore, passive discovery does not disrupt sensitive devices on the network, such as industrial control systems, and enables visibility of Web and cloud services being accessed from systems on the network. Additional passive discovery strategies prevent triggering alerts on security tools throughout the network.

In Summary.

BYOD, shadow IT, IoT, virtualization, and Gartner’s newly-coined BYOT mean more and more assets on to the organization network. Regrettably, a number of these assets are unidentified or un-managed by IT. These un-managed assets pose severe security holes. Eliminating these un-managed assets from the network – which are much more likely to be “patient zero” – or bringing them up to corporate security standards considerably minimizes a company’s attack surface and total risk. The bright side is that there are options that can offer continuous, passive discovery of un-managed assets.

Written By Dr Al Hartmann And Presented By Charles Leaver Ziften CEO


Diminishing Efficiency of Business Antivirus?

Google Security Expert Labels Antivirus Apps As Ineffective ‘Magic’.

At the current Kiwicon hacking conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Google’s Platform Integrity team manager Darren Bilby preached cyber-security heresy. Entrusted with examination of extremely advanced attacks, including the 2009 Operation Aurora project, Bilby lumped business antivirus into a collection of inefficient tools set up to tick a compliance check box, but at the cost of genuine security:

We need to stop buying those things we have revealed do not work… Anti-virus does some beneficial things, but in reality, it is more like a canary in a coal mine. It is even worse than that. It’s like we are loafing around the dead canary stating ‘Thank god it inhaled all the harmful gas.

Google security gurus aren’t the very first to weigh in against organization antivirus, or to draw uncomplimentary examples, in this case to a dead canary.

Another highly competent security group, FireEye Mandiant, compared static defenses such as enterprise antivirus to that infamously stopped working World War II defense, the Maginot Line:

Like the Maginot Line, today’s cyber defenses are fast becoming a relic in today’s hazard landscape. Organizations invest billions of dollars every year on IT security. However cyber attackers are easily outflanking these defenses with smart, fast-moving attacks.

An example of this was offered by a Cisco managed security services executive speaking at a conference in Poland. Their group had spotted anomalous activity on among their enterprise client’s networks, and reported the thought server compromise to the customer. To the Cisco group’s awe, the client simply ran an anti-virus scan on the server, found no detections, and put it back into service. Horrified, the Cisco group conferenced in the customer to their monitoring console and was able to show the assailant conducting a live remote session at that very minute, complete with typing mistakes and reissue of commands to the jeopardized server. Lastly convinced, the customer took the server down and totally re-imaged it – the business antivirus had been a futile distraction – it had actually not served the customer and it had actually not deterred the cyber attack.

So Is It Time to Dispose Of Business Antivirus Already?

I am not yet all set to state an end to the age of enterprise anti-virus. But I understand that organizations have to buy detection and response capabilities to match conventional antivirus. However progressively I wonder who is complementing whom.

Experienced targeted assailants will constantly effectively evade antivirus defenses, so against your greatest cyber risks, organization antivirus is basically worthless. As Darren Bilby specified, it does do some beneficial things, but it does not offer the endpoint defense you need. So, do not let it distract you from the highest concern cyber-security investments, and do not let it distract you from security procedures that do basically assist.

Proven cyber defense procedures include:

Setup hardening of networks and endpoints.

Identity management with strong authentication.

Application controls.

Continuous network and endpoint monitoring, constant watchfulness.

Strong encryption and data security.

Staff training and education.

Continuous risk re-assessment, penetration screening, red/blue teaming.

In contrast to Bilby’s criticism of business anti-virus, none of the above bullets are ‘magic’. They are simply the ongoing effort of appropriate organization cyber-security.