This article was originally published on Software Strategies blog.
Bottom Line: By securing every endpoint with a persistent connection and the resiliency to autonomously self-heal, CIOs are finding new ways to further improve network security by capitalizing on each IT assets’ intelligence.
Capturing real-time data from IT assets is how every organization can grow beyond its existing boundaries with greater security, speed, and trust. Many IT and cybersecurity teams and the CIOs that lead them, and with whom I’ve spoken with, are energized by the opportunity to create secured perimeterless networks that can flex in real-time as their businesses grow. Having a persistent connection to every device across an organizations’ constantly changing perimeter provides invaluable data for achieving this goal. The real-time data provided by persistent device connections give IT and cybersecurity teams the Asset Intelligence they need for creating more resilient, self-healing endpoints as well.
How Asset Intelligence Drives Stronger Endpoint Security
Real-time, persistent connections to every device in a network is the foundation of a strong endpoint security strategy. It’s also essential for controlling device operating expenses (OPEX) across the broad base of device use cases every organization relies on to succeed. Long-term persistent connections drive down capital expenses (CAPEX) too, by extending the life of every device while providing perimeterless growth of the network. By combining device inventory and analysis, endpoint data compliance with the ability to manage a device fleet using universal asset management techniques, IT and cybersecurity teams are moving beyond Asset Management to Asset Intelligence. Advanced analytics, benchmarks, and audits are all possible across every endpoint today. The following are the 10 ways Asset Intelligence improves cybersecurity resiliency and persistence:
- Track, trace and find lost or stolen devices on or off an organizations’ network in real-time, disabling the device if necessary. Every device, from laptops, tablets, and smartphones to desktops and specialized use devices are another threat surface that needs to be protected. Real-time persistent connections to each of these devices make track-and-trace possible, giving CIOs and their teams more control than had been possible before. Real-time track-and-trace data combined with device condition feedback closes security blind spots too. IT and cybersecurity teams can monitor every device and know the state of hardware, software, network and use patterns from dashboards. Of the endpoint providers in this market, Absolute’s approach to providing dashboards that provide real-time visibility and control of every device on a network is considered state-of-the-art. An example of Absolute’s dashboard is shown below:
- Asset Intelligence enables every endpoint to autonomously self-heal themselves and deliver constant persistence across an organization’s entire network. By capitalizing on the device, network, threat, and use data that defines Asset Intelligence, endpoint agents learn over time how to withstand breach attempts, user errors, and malicious attacks, and most importantly, how to return an endpoint device to its original safe state. Asset Intelligence is the future of endpoint security as it’s proving to be very effective at enabling self-healing persistence across enterprise networks.
- Asset Intelligence solves the urgent problem created from having 10 or more agents installed on a single endpoint that collide, conflict and decay how secure the endpoint is. Absolute Software’s 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report found that the more agents that are added to an endpoint, the greater the risk of a breach. Absolute also found that a typical device has ten or more endpoint security agents installed, often colliding and conflicting with the other. MITRE’s Cybersecurity research practice found there are on average, ten security agents on each device, and over 5,000 common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) found on the top 20 client applications in 2018 alone.
- Asset Intelligence sets the data foundation for achieving always-on persistence by tracking every devices’ unique attributes, identifiers, communication log history and more. Endpoint security platforms need a contextually-rich, real-time stream of data to know how and when to initialize the process of autonomously healing a given endpoint device. Asset Intelligence provides the centralized base of IT security controls needed for making endpoint persistence possible.
- Having a real-time connection to every device on a perimeterless network contributes to creating a security cloud stack from the BIOS level that delivers persistence for every device. CIOs and CISOs interested in building secured perimeterless networks are focused on creating persistent, real-time connections to every device as a first step to creating a security cloud stack from each devices’ BIOS level. They’re saying that the greater the level of Asset Intelligence they can achieve, the broader they can roll out persistence-based endpoints across their networks that have the capacity to self-diagnose and self-heal.
- Device fleets are churning 20% a year or more, increasing the urgency CIOs have for knowing where each device is and its current state, further underscoring Asset Intelligence’s value. Gavin Cockburn of ARUP is the global service lead for workplace automation and endpoint management, including how the firm acquires devices, manages and reclaims them. ARUP is using the Absolute Persistence platform for managing the many high-value laptops and remote devices their associates use on global projects. During a recent panel discussion he says that device replacements “becomes part of our budgeting process in that 33% of devices that we do replace every year, we know where they are.” Gavin is also using API calls to gain analytical data to measure how devices are being used, if the hard drive is encrypted or not and run Reach scripts to better encrypt a device if there is not enough security on them.
- The more Asset Intelligence an organization has, the more they can predict and detect malware intrusion attempts, block them and restore any damage to any device on their perimeter. When there’s persistent endpoint protection across a perimeterless network, real-time data is enabling greater levels of Asset Intelligence which is invaluable in identifying, blocking and learning from malware attempts on any device on the network. Endpoint protection platforms that have persistence designed in are able to autonomously self-heal back to their original state after an attack, all without manual intervention.
- Persistent endpoints open up the opportunity of defining geofencing for every device on a perimeterless network, further providing valuable data Asset Intelligence platforms capitalize on. Geofencing is proving to be a must-have for many organizations that have globally-based operations, as their IT and cybersecurity teams need to track the device location, usage, and compliance in real-time. Healthcare companies are especially focused on how Asset Intelligence can deliver geofencing at scale. Janet Hunt, Senior Director, IT User Support at Apria Healthcare recently commented during a recent panel discussion that “our geo-fencing is extremely tight. I have PCs that live in the Philippines. I have PCs that live in India. I have one PC or actually two PCs that live in Indonesia. If somebody goes from where they say that they’re going to be to another part of Indonesia, that device will freeze because that’s not where it’s supposed to be and that’s an automatic thing. Don’t ask forgiveness, don’t ask questions, freeze the device and see what happens. It’s one of the best things we’ve done for ourselves.” Gavin Cockburn says, “We actually do some kind of secretive work, government work and we have these secure rooms, dotted around the organization. So we know if we put a device in that room, what we do is, what we say is this device only works in this area and we can pinpoint that to a pretty decent accuracy.” From healthcare to secured government contracting, geofencing is a must-have in any persistent endpoint security strategy.
- Automating customer and regulatory audits and improving compliance reporting by relying on Asset Intelligence alleviates time-consuming tasks for IT and cybersecurity teams. When persistent endpoint protection is operating across an organization’s network, audit and compliance data is captured in real-time and automatically fed into reporting systems and dashboards. CIOs and their cybersecurity teams are using dashboards to monitor every device’s usage patterns, audit access, and application activity, and check for compliance to security and reporting standards. Audits and compliance reporting are being automated today using PowerShell, BASH scripts and API-based universal asset commands. Gavin Cockburn of ARUP mentioned how his firm gives customers the assurance their data is safe by providing them ongoing audits while project engagements are ongoing. “We need to show for our clients that we look after their data and we can prove that. And we show that again and again. I mean similar story, we’ve seen machines go missing, either breaking into cars, re-image three times. We wipe it every time. Put the new hard drive in, think it might be a hard drive issue, it wipes again. We never see it come online again, “ he said.
- Asset Intelligence improves data hygiene, which has a direct effect on how effective all IT systems are and the customer experiences they deliver. CIOs and their teams’ incentives center on how effective IT is at meeting internal information needs that impact customer experiences and outcomes. Improving data hygiene is essential for IT to keep achieving their incentive plans and earning bonuses. As Janet Hunt, Senior Director, IT User Support at Apria Healthcare said, “right now we are all about hygiene and what I mean by that is we want our data to be good. We want all the things that make IT a valued partner with the business operation to be able to be reliable.” The more effective any organization is at achieving and sustaining a high level of data hygiene, the more secure their perimeterless network strategies become.
For more on how Apria Healthcare relies on Absolute, download the full case study.