Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
(and Modest Budgets)

information technology asset management - Dynamic Quest One of the most effective cybersecurity measures is also one of the most cost-effective.

Companies of all sizes are rightly concerned about cybersecurity. The big ones have the wherewithal to invest in evolving, expensive technologies like machine learning and Security Information and Event Management, or SIEM. Small business cybersecurity is a different challenge; it must be modest in cost and at the same time exceptionally effective. This is where a network security management program really delivers. Central to this cybersecurity strategy is Information Technology Asset Management, or ITAM.

What is Information Technology Asset Management?

Information Technology Asset Management ensures that your IT budget is deployed where it will do the most good at the best cost. It focuses on knowing what you’ve got, taking good care of it, and upgrading it in a deliberate, informed process—as opposed to shopping for cutting edge new technologies that may not have been proven yet. Done right, ITAM will reduce costs and enhance security.

To use an everyday analogy, think of your IT system as a car. (Let’s assume it’s not a Lamborghini.) If you really want to get the most out of it, you’ll check every component in the car and assign it a value. The crankcase needs oil changes or the pistons will freeze and you’ll never get to the beach. On the other hand, the washer fluid needs to be refilled, too, but you can get to the beach with a dirty windshield. You take your car budget and if you can change the oil AND refill the fluid—great. If you’ve got to choose one or the other, well, you know what to do.

A comprehensive, updated inventory is key.

The effectiveness of security management via ITAM depends on a thorough knowledge of all the hardware and software in your company’s system, including the age of every asset. When you know the state of the network—switches, servers, firewalls, etc.—you can make timely decisions that keep your small business cybersecurity at its most effective.

A good rule of thumb is that many IT assets have a roughly 5-year lifecycle. When you know that something is reaching its 5-year anniversary, you’re alert to the need to upgrade and you can set aside part of your budget to do that. To use a current example: Windows 7 is entering the final stretch of usefulness. Time to migrate? Yep.

A managed security services program is your most powerful cybersecurity tool.

When you’ve got a team inspecting your inventory on a regular basis, you are protecting yourself from costly disruptions. In addition—and most importantly—you are arming yourself with information that keeps your small business cybersecurity robust and effective.

An ITAM program—particularly as a component of your security management solution— should cover the following stages in an asset’s life:

  • Purchase
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance
  • Utilization
  • Disposal

How ITAM strengthens your small business cybersecurity.

When a threat is identified, solid ITAM helps to isolate the compromised asset, preventing it from spreading to other areas of the network. This prevents unauthorized individuals from making damaging changes to the desktop or operating system. It also gives your department the ability to quickly block or limit the access of any user as the situation requires.

How ITAM saves your business time and money.

Without ITAM, your IT department spends a large portion of their time manually watching over your assets as best they can. ITAM transfers that burden to a managed security service team.

ITAM saves your IT department time and resources by mitigating the risks of desktops requiring repairs due to user fault. An ITAM database can determine whether the software a user attempts to install is necessary to perform her work effectively. If it’s not a good idea, the installation can be blocked. This eliminates the need to provide standard users with administrative privileges over their desktops.

Here’s how to implement a security-focused ITAM program.

  1. The IT requirements of the organization are evaluated, and the best combination of hardware, software, and other options is determined.
  2. A standard list of hardware and software each position requires is created, and each person is assigned specific devices that already have all the programs and applications they may need.
  3. Each employee’s use of assigned device(s) is tracked and documented.
  4. Device maintenance/replacement, and software updates, are streamlined.
  5. Standards for the disposal of assets are set, and each “end of life” event is documented.

Ultimately, a sound ITAM will not only help control inventory, but help you meet compliance requirements, and improve accountability. Supplement your security capabilities with Information Technology Asset Management. If you have any questions about ITAM, or general cybersecurity inquiries, contact Dynamic Quest. We’re happy to be of service.