Network asset discovery and why you need it for your applications

In today’s business climate, almost all companies are looking for a way to better leverage software and the power of applications. They’re developing new applications at an increasing pace using the latest technologies. Not only that, but they’re also migrating their older applications, primarily using microservices or cloud computing.

But with new technologies and programming languages come increases in security risk. You must be aware of your cybersecurity situation. How can you be sure that your new applications aren’t vulnerable? And worse, how can you secure apps you’re not even aware of?

That’s where asset discovery enters the scene.

So, if you’re wondering “What is asset discovery?” or “What’s the importance of asset discovery?” fasten your seatbelt. In this post, we’ll start a journey that will enlighten you about asset discovery, starting with its use in networks. Along with that, you learn the reasons why it’s a must-have for your applications.

What is asset discovery?

Asset discovery is the process of keeping track of all active and inactive assets. The tools assigned to this process aim to find the asset clusters. Then, it locates the relationship each has with its network, devices, and usage. Assets may include hardware devices like servers, internal applications, and software licenses.

If you have a complete picture of your technology, you can judge data by its importance, and better improve your security. The data acquired will empower you to make good decisions. Plus, once you have a better idea of your asset role, you can get a clear picture of the relationship between your assets, devices, and network. Having visibility into your environment makes it much easier to maintain a good security posture. It’s super hard to secure what you can’t see. 

What is network asset discovery?

Network asset discovery is the process by which an organization keeps track of all the resources connected to the company network, from all applications and services used to employee user accounts to third-party providers your company uses. But why do we need that?

Corporate networks have witnessed an evolution throughout the years. The networks grew in size. Along with that, they kept on adding new features, making it easier for employees to work and connect. Finally, in present times, companies took a step ahead and started migrating their physical networks into the cloud environment. For many startups, the cloud is the norm, and physical networks have never entered the picture.

So far, corporate networks have maintained their dynamic work environment. They’ve done that by bringing in interconnected devices and systems. Many companies have a BYOD policy, where employees can do their work by connecting with the company’s network. These changes proved to be quite challenging for enterprises since they gave birth to new security threats. The assets connected in a network don’t always fall under the control of the network security team. Because of that, it can be difficult to acquire insights into devices.

That’s where network asset discovery comes into play. It involves the process of keeping track of devices, users, and assets. Suppose you have 1,000 virtual accounts in your company and 1,000 employees who each use a single account. Using an asset discovery solution will provide you the information regarding which account is assigned to which employee. You’ll also get to know the device or machine ID from where your employees access the accounts.

Benefits of network asset discovery 

Now that we have an idea of what network asset discovery is, let’s take a deep dive into its benefits. We’ll get to know the importance of including asset discovery solutions for your network.

It helps you make data-driven decisions

Asset discovery adds efficiency by providing critical information for better decisions. For instance, how many computers need replacement? You’ll know because asset discovery lets you consolidate this data centrally. You can also use the data for efficient troubleshooting.

It helps you better manage software licenses

Another key aspect of asset discovery is the management of software licenses. It involves maintaining a database of the third-party providers your organization uses and their contracts. This process will help you keep track of registered and unregistered software on your network.

Unregistered or pirated software can lead to penalties from the stakeholder or client, which could cost your company thousands of dollars. If you’re tracking the software your employees have accounts for, you can reduce that danger.

It makes employees aware of affected assets

Your organization needs to be aware of the assets that support your employees and their associated services.

For larger organizations, an asset discovery solution provides you with IT asset management (ITAM) tools or software that helps you to maintain a configuration management database (CMDB). A CMDB includes information about infrastructure troubles. This lets IT teams locate the affected departments. Once they’ve done that, a data-driven assessment will tell them how to take action.

It addresses risks and enhances security levels

By using an asset discovery solution, your team can get information related to any given asset. This they can do either from service requests or an incoming ticket. By resolving tickets, your team can address all the incidents and identify asset-related risks. Thus, asset discovery assists you in preventing future instances of hardware or application malfunction.

By spending some time on asset discovery and building the list of your company’s assets,  you can detect any path, however unlikely, that might welcome security risks. Without having a good idea of what services your company uses and deploys, it’s easy to miss potential security risks However, asset discovery can locate and address that problem quickly.

It gives you intel on network-connected software and hardware assets

Your team can make the most out of asset discovery to comprehend your network infrastructure and application deployments. With this information, you’ll be able to safeguard your company more efficiently.

Asset discovery will help you and your team understand several things:

  • The condition of your cloud environment.
  • The number of assets present in your virtual and private networks.
  • Vulnerabilities present in your cloud or on-premise network.
  • Anticipated chances of attacks.

Along with that, an asset discovery solution should include a checklist or a spreadsheet that will inform you of the threats that require immediate attention.

It cuts down on redundant technology purchases

It’s important to know the devices available or in use for one single archive. With asset scanning, you can keep track of such devices.

Often, capital expenditure tends to go beyond the stipulated threshold. It becomes difficult for the finance team to track all expenses. For example, let’s say that an executive has a slightly outdated laptop. Perhaps the company bought him a brand new laptop when all his machine needed was upgraded RAM or GPU. What a waste of money! Thus, the visibility of devices on deck is important to avoid redundant purchases.

It provides a network update reminder

When you use asset discovery, your knowledge isn’t limited to the present assets. You’ll learn about license statuses, installed assets, and retired assets. This assessment will help your teams grasp the entire situation. That way, your team can optimize and maintain assets with even more efficiency.

It assists with report generation and automated tracking

Businesses are adopting the trend of “bring your own device,” or BYOD. As a result, they’ve allowed access to many external threats.

For instance, let’s suppose an employee of yours is bringing his personal laptop to the workplace. What if the laptop is already infected with a harmful virus or malware? As soon as he connects the laptop to the enterprise network, the malware may spread and affect other users connected to the same network.

If your asset discovery solution has an effective threat detection system, it can help you to scrutinize devices and locate any threat. This will eliminate your chances of falling victim to that threat. Plus, you can also generate quick assessment reports for your audit team or stakeholders.

It increases profitability and efficiency

Asset discovery and management solutions can efficiently combine business processes—processes like contractual, financial, inventory and maintenance functions. These functions empower teams to make more strategic decisions.

The formerly independent departments can now collaborate in cumulative decisions. That process as a whole furthers efficiency and profitability.

Taking the next step: what this means for applications

From the above benefits, we’ve come to know how beneficial it is for your network if you can maintain a list of all your assets. This all equips your company to cope with how fast technology changes and the shifting state of what your employees use.

By applying the ideas and principles of asset inventory to your applications, you can realize many of the same benefits. Modern development teams deploy new features, new components, and new applications on a near-daily basis. Without visibility into your applications and what has been deployed, it’s easy to overlook security risks and to duplicate effort. For security teams, trying to keep an inventory of applications requires either slowing down the speed of developers, which is undesirable and infeasible; compiling point-in-time manual lists, which get outdated almost immediately; or finding a way to automate the creation and upkeep of this inventory. 

Implementing a workable asset inventory solution for the application side of things is crucial for security teams. In fact, it’s one of the main issues modern application security teams are dealing with today.  As you consider your own security posture, don’t discount this essential element. 


This post was written by Arnab Roy Chowdhury. Arnab is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has strong expertise in the latest UI/UX trends, project methodologies, testing, and scripting.

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[…] This scaling up challenge is nothing new. There are similar challenges involved with managing larger infrastructures with regards to asset discovery. It is a related topic, and you can read more about it here. […]

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