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IT Asset Discovery Tools

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By: Nihad Hassan

March 2, 2021

Digital transformations and an increasing reliance on Information Technology (IT) are prevalent across most industries. Computing devices have become an essential business tool. For instance, computers are used in an organization's operations, such as product/service creation, marketing, administration, finance, HR, communications, and data tracking and storage. Indeed, no one can imagine a world without computers!

A medium-sized enterprise can have hundreds of computing devices and maybe thousands of software licenses. This number is exponential for the bigger enterprises. No matter the size of your organization's IT department, managing a large number of software, operating system licenses, and hardware devices is a daunting task and cannot be accomplished manually. Asset discovery programs were invented to solve the problem of IT assets management.

Asset discovery is the process of discovering IT assets within an organization. It works by scanning the subject organization's network and finding all connected devices and installed programs so IT administrators can better track and manage their IT assets. The IT assets range from operating system license (e.g., endpoint and server operating system) to other hardware devices (e.g., networking devices, printers).

Having a comprehensive picture of an organization's IT assets will help it make better-informed decisions by knowing the number of active devices and identifying those that need attention to avoid any sudden defect.

This article discusses the advantages of using asset discovery tools and explores four of the most popular asset discovery tools.

Why is an asset discovery program important?

Using an asset discovery tool is critical for any organization that wants to protect its IT systems from cyber-attacks. The following list covers some key benefits of using such a tool:

  1. Improve the level of cybersecurity by discovering unlicensed software. Malware authors exploit unlicensed software to plant malware and gain an entry point into your network.

  2. Asset discovery tools warn IT administratorsabout expired software licenses to avoid paying fines related to software entitlement.

  3. Asset discovery software helps network administrators visualize computer networks, which improves security by discovering all hardware and software assets across the organization network, in addition to the license status of every software.

  4. Asset discovery tools help organizations reduce hardware and software costs by discovering unused programs, computers, and other licensed IT assets, identifying products that do not need renewed licensing or support.

  5. Asset discovery tools help organizations to discover vulnerabilities in software and hardware devices through detecting the software versions. Discovery tools are also used to identify potential risks. For example, it can detect if a particular device on your network does not have an antivirus installed. Antivirus programs are considered the first defense line and help guard endpoint devices and servers against malware and potential threats.

Top 4 asset discovery tools

Here are four asset discovery programs to choose from.

Virima Virima is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform used for asset discovery, IT asset management, and IT service management. The Virima IT asset discovery solution can be deployed either on-premises or in the cloud. It provides an agentless solution to scan devices on both the cloud environment and locally (see Figure 1).

Virima integrates with most cloud service providers, such as AWS and Azure, and can detect thousands of IT asset types and hardware configurations and almost any installed program on Windows, Mac, UNIX, and Linux operating systems.

Virima supports different IT asset discovery environments, such as data centers, virtual machines, edge devices, cloud (e.g., AWS and Azure virtual machines, etc.), in addition to subnet IP addresses.

Virima detects vast arrays of software, operating system, and device-specific hardware technical details such as CPU, RAM, Hard Drive, Peripherals, network adapters, OS and BIOS version, and OS patch levels. alt_text

Qualys Qualys AssetView is a web-based asset discovery solution. To work, it requires a lightweight agent, and the program will gather various technical information, such as installed software and its versions, existing vulnerabilities, and hardware configuration details. AssetView also detects improper security configurations (e.g., unauthorized software and outdated or expired licenses) and detects IT policy violations (e.g., a disabled, personal firewall or a user lowering an app security setting).

Qualys can be used to scan millions of assets and performs the search very fast.

ImmuniWeb Discovery ImmuniWeb is a commercial service that leverages Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to gather as much information about the subject organization. The search is not restricted to subject organization local assets. Instead, it scans the entire web (surface, deep, and the dark web) to discover all IT assets related to subject organization, such as published files online, websites, and related sub-domain names.

ImmuniWeb can be used to discover the following IT assets:

  • APIs & Web Services (web services used by your websites and mobile app, and any API attributed to the subject organization)
  • Websites (including subdomain names and any linked websites)
  • SSL certificates
  • IoT device and other digital devices such as surveillance cameras
  • Public code repositories such as Github
  • SaaS and PaaS systems
  • Mobile applications and databases

Lansweeper Lansweeper (see Figure 2) discovers all IT assets within a network without installing any agent on endpoint devices. The range of assets that Lansweeper can find include the following:

Windows, Linux, networking devices, Mac, UNIX, vCenter, Citrix, Hyper-V, switches, routers, firewalls, printers, VMware, servers, workstations, monitors, cloud services, Office 365, databases, PLC, USB devices, antivirus, user accounts, IP cameras, scanners, Raspberries, POS equipment, music systems, smart TVs, gamer consoles, sensors and many more…
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Summary

Organizations can reduce their IT expenses by purchasing licenses for only the essential devices and products using IT asset discovery programs. Asset discovery also reduces the attack surface by knowing precisely the number of IT assets, their locations, installed software and OS, and whether they suffer from any security vulnerability such as unpatched OS, missing antivirus, or unlicensed installed software.

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