Harness the Power of IoT with a Comprehensive Inventory: Here’s Why

Engaging in your first network device inventory may feel like simply documenting what you already think you know. Most organizations feel they know the critical and risky devices that connect to their network, but our experience with customers indicates that many have unforeseen gaps. According to a 2023 G2 survey, approximately 64% of organizations are missing accurate IoT inventories.

Many companies worry that the time and effort an accurate inventory takes outweigh the perceived benefits. Often, they have identified the enterprise IT devices critical to their security posture, like workstations or applications that manage sensitive data. This gives them a false sense of security, allowing them to feel confident about their current internal defenses and ability to mitigate risks arising from a rogue device.

At a business level, organizations often think that building the asset inventory will increase overall costs because they assume the process is time- and skill-intensive. However, this is only a problem when companies use manual processes, like spreadsheets. Across disconnected spreadsheets and configuration management databases, manual processes become overwhelming as people from different IT and security functional areas cross-reference sources. Additionally, traditional IT network scanners generate traffic, increasing costs by creating service outages and disrupting business operations. 

Ultimately, organizations increase their overall security and IT costs with these error-prone practices if they even exist. The lack of a formal Internet of Things (IoT) asset inventory creates security blindspots that can lead to data breaches. Meanwhile, from the procurement perspective, organizations lack visibility into devices that may be end-of-life (EoL) and require replacement. 

With a formal inventory that includes fewer analyzed IoT devices, organizations can reduce administrative costs and security risks while more effectively managing their IT budgets with data-driven insights that identify necessary technology investments. 

What Are the Benefits of an Accurate IoT Inventory?

A meaningful inventory is a long, detailed, and classified list of all IoT devices that includes data like:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Operating system, firmware, and software
  • Configurations

While this enables you to gain insight into security posture, you can also use it to discover older technologies that should be replaced, pass audit inventory requirements, and identify how to optimize IoT to better serve business needs. With visibility into the various manufacturers and device types, organizations gain insight into their current technology investments to identify where potential risks might lie. 

For IoT devices, using a passive analysis of network traffic without actively pinging devices is critical to mitigate the risk of service outages. Active scanning can cause service interruptions for some IoT devices. By combining the documentation you created when installing your devices, deep packet inspection, and machine learning-based traffic analysis backed by a database of devices’ network traffic, you can generate an IoT inventory and network traffic analysis quickly.

Understand Your IoT Device Fleet and its Software

Whether you think you know what you have or know that you don’t know what you have, a powerful inventory and visibility software, like Asimily can match up network activity with known devices in the marketplace.

With visibility into your IoT device fleet and its associated software, organizations reduce the likelihood of malicious actors using them during an attack. Further, they gain visibility into devices that the manufacturer no longer supports, enabling them to more efficiently plan their budgets. 

With a robust IoT inventory solution,  you can:

  • Quantify the number of devices, the categories of devices, and the amount of each device in each category
  • Get a feel for how much Shadow IT trouble you have – or none. Find out what’s really there. 
  • Understanding of the different services using your network (SMB1, RDP, etc), and the versions (hint: are they secure?)
  • Classify your devices to understand where your overall business is growing and shrinking 
  • Data topologies, like where data flows in from and out to
  • Identify trends in the number of devices and specific IoT families such as building, maintenance systems, or programs of the logic controllers
  • See which applications are running on your network, and if any insecure versions are present
  • Gain insights into your organization’s boundaries and trends across business units or functional area
  • Operating system versions, age, and their vulnerabilities
  • Device traffic, including source and destination countries, organizations communicating with your devices, and how (which services) are being used 
Detect Incidents

As you increase the number of IoT devices, you expand your attack surface. The longer attackers evade detection in systems, the more damage they can cause, including stealing more sensitive data or moving laterally to compromise additional systems. From data breach costs to fines and penalties for compliance violations, the financial impact can undermine the organization’s revenue goals. 

When you engage in the IoT asset inventory process, you may identify potential security incidents by finding:

  • Indicators of compromise that reveal themselves during the process of taking inventory
  • Botnets resident on your network
  • Anomalous behavior, like a typically light IoT user, such as HR, having more activity than a high IoT environment, like a manufacturing floor

Improving IoT Security is a journey, but it always starts with understanding what the potential attack surface is and the threats that they face. Although Asimily has a broad set of benefits for the full lifecycle of a device, including pre-purchase risk analysis, anomaly detection, device packet capture, and vulnerability prioritization (among many others), getting that first confident inventory of devices conveys huge benefits to organizations.  It’s rare for Asimily prospects and customers to get that first inventory data without a surprise, and their security posture gets better as a result (no surprise).

To learn more about Asimily, download our IoT Device Security in 2024: The High Cost of Doing Nothing whitepaper or contact us today.

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