Eight Ways Mature Software Asset Management can Minimize Security Risks


No business wants to experience a security threat, and with a 49% increase in Ransomware attacks in the first quarter of 2023 alone, the threat to security is only likely to increase.

How are you reducing your IT security risks?

Despite global spending on security technology being forecasted to reach over $214 Billion in 2024 according to Gartner, it’s surprising how many organizations are yet to realize the proactive as well as reactive benefits of a robust Software Asset Management (SAM) program in preventing security vulnerabilities.

Increasing SAM maturity isn’t just about reducing licensing costs and compliance risks. With the complexity of today’s hybrid IT landscapes increasing, ITAM & SAM provides a critical understanding of what’s out there, why it’s needed and what discovered software really is.

This understanding combined with the ITAM & SAM governance processes that sustain control, can nip potential security risks in the bud through a robust and agile proactive as well as remediative framework of control.

And so, here are the top 8 ways organizations can use ITAM & SAM to help minimize security risk:


1) Centralize IT Visibility & Intelligence

Simply, you can’t manage what you can’t see and yet plenty of businesses are still lacking a robust discovery & inventory capability that actively discovers changes to their networks and informs central IT teams of both what they know – inventoried or ‘managed’ IT devices, and what they don’t know – the newly identified systems, not yet inventoried and understood.

This critical visibility stage is at the foundation of a robust SAM capability, yet its value for security is sometimes lost if SAM solution vendors limit focus to just software license management, whilst IT Service Management (ITSM) tools lack the sophistication to accurately identify software.

The best of both worlds therefore, would be to invest in a solution that is designed for IT Asset Management as well as Software Asset Management.


2) Identify Malicious Software

To effectively maintain a robust security position, having access to a dynamically maintained, detailed inventory of all software deployed across the business is a must. This provides the ability to rapidly identify any software with known security vulnerabilities in seconds, down to the level of understanding specific minor versions, KB files and Hotfixes.

An enterprise-class ITAM & SAM solution allows for the scope of a potential threat to be rapidly identified, an update to be pushed-out and the remediating action to be measured through to completion, so you can see the risk – see the status of remediation actions and confidently confirm when it has been addressed effectively. The entire process, can be managed through a single pane of glass solution.


3) Block Access to Blacklisted Applications

With visibility of the software deployed within the business, it becomes easier to prevent the use of suspect, malicious or simply unwanted applications. Even with stringent usage policies in place for software usage, with organizations using portable storage and mobile devices, software can often be installed behind a firewall.

Using the information available from the ITAM discovery and inventory functionality, organizations can create an Approved & Denied list of software applications that can then be actively enforced using Access Control. This unique feature within Certero’s SAM solution is there because businesses need to actively restrict access to software applications on a per-user or per-device bases – proactively enforcing software policy.


4) Examine Software Usage Data in a Security Breach

SAM tools create an additional level of security for applications by providing a snapshot in real-time of which employees are accessing which programs. In the unfortunate situation that a security breach takes place, SAM functionality enables organizations to examine application usage data. This is essential for identifying when the suspect software was last used and who launched it to help solve the issue quicker.


5) Application Rationalization & Standardization

SAM tools can identify any redundant or outdated software ensuring only necessary and required software remains available. By encouraging the rationalization and standardization of the number of unused software titles, organizations enable IT to support and patch fewer applications in a security risk, especially when only 50% of organizations have conducted staff training to help deal with these threats.


6) Leverage Patch Management

Utilizing SAM to support patch management, or a SAM solution which features patch management software, can support process efficiency and ensure the scope of target systems are complete and current, which becomes more crucial following a recent statistic that less than 25% of organizations are applying the latest security software patches within the first 24 hours of release. This will result in quicker reactions in the unfortunate event of a threat, resulting in time and cost savings, as well as ensuring all devices on the network are running the required security software.


7) Check Anti-Virus Software

With access to a SRDB (Software Recognition Database), SAM tools enable organizations to perform anti-virus software checking notating computers which have no antivirus software installed. This results in the business being able to help reduce the number of risks in the future, by ensuring these computers are protected.

Though this type of ‘good house-keeping’ sits at the far end of the SAM maturity curve, there are services out there to support and complement internal SAM teams with specifically this type of activity – so internal teams can focus on their big-ticket costs, managing license compliance with Tier1 vendors, whilst a trusted SAM partner delivers the necessary support with Tier 2-3 vendors and increasing SAM maturity.


8) Support GDPR Compliance

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came in in May 2018. The aim of GDPR is to strengthen individual’s privacy and security rights, applying to any organization, whether they are based in the EU or not, that collects, retains or processes the personal data of EU citizens.

Organizations now have very clear controls in place around how they manage and use personal data. So, consider the instance of a data breach resulting in a quantity of customer information being stolen. The penalty for such a breach could climb to tens of millions. In such circumstances the organization will be expected to have the answer to some key questions, such as: “How many devices (PCs, laptops, servers, mobiles) do we have? Who has access to them and where are they? What software is installed and which applications are actually used and by whom? Do the devices all have data encryption installed?” But how many IT departments will be able to answer these questions accurately?

Clearly – with its inherent ability to establish a clear, complete and accurate understanding of the entire IT estate – ITAM/SAM technology can play a crucial role and ultimately help organizations overcome the challenges of GDPR compliance.


Using SAM to Prevent Security Risks

As the hybrid scope of IT has transformed once simple ITAM and SAM tools into full-scope intelligence platforms for IT, now is the time to fully leverage the benefits of SAM technology and best practices to prevent security risks.

SAM strengthens security tools and processes, which can significantly improve an organization’s ability to protect data, software and systems, helping to reduce the operational risk. For some, it even helps identity those systems missing critical security and control solutions your organization prefers to have in place.

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