Since the year 2004, more than 9 billion personal records have been stolen by hackers who managed to breach corporate and government agencies. That’s more than the entire human population!

Clearly, some people’s data has been compromised at least twice by agencies with whom they had entrusted their data. Sadly, that number is rapidly growing!

The FBI reports that the number of global ransomware attacks have now reached a shocking 4,000 per day. As per a 2012 report by Sophos Security, 30,000 websites are hacked every day, and over the past 6 years, that number has registered a double digit growth rate. The victims are not just the average individuals or small businesses. Some of the most secure organizations in the world, viz. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Equifax, and the Pentagon, have found themselves to be the victims of sophisticated hacks in the recent past. That’s a wakeup call for every security-conscious citizen, business, and government agency. A fundamental question before every organization concerned about its corporate and consumer data is – how can we safeguard our digital infrastructure from the ever-growing menace of hacking?

The answer may lie with IT Asset Management (ITAM).

ITAM: A Security Driver

A comprehensive IT asset management (ITAM) program grants businesses a 360-degree view of the various IT assets – hardware, software, and cloud – owned by the businesses. It presents an extensive amount of information about the specifications, capabilities, licenses, compliance requirements, maintenance requirements, renewals, and more. More importantly, a robust ITAM solution streamlines the management of all of these assets throughout their life cycle, so that businesses can optimize their operational efficiency, minimize the costs, realize the benefit of various IT assets, and have just the right information to make smarter investments into IT assets in the future.

In addition to offering all of these tangible benefits, ITAM solutions can bring profound improvements to the security of an organizations’ data simply by establishing critical asset management protocols. Here’s how:

Timely Implementation of Security Updates
Seemingly simple functions like reminding the IT executives about the latest security patches, updates, and software upgrades, or even automatically installing the security updates as and when they are released, can fix the security vulnerabilities before they are exploited.

Data Erasure from Assets
Every hardware asset that is being tracked under an ITAM program must automatically be assigned a ‘flag’ for data erasure. When the asset is being finally disposed of, the flag ensures that the data on the asset is mandatorily wiped out in a way that it cannot be retrieved using data retrieval systems. Improperly disposed hardware assets can still carry confidential data that can be accessed by unauthorized people.

Multi-Tier Asset Management
Roughly 40% of the global workforce is mobile, and continues to grow in size and share. This has catalyzed an explosion in enterprise mobility. Organizations are scrambling between BYOD, CYOD, and COPE enterprise mobility strategies to tackle the data and network security challenges thrown up by a dizzying variety of mobile devices and their varied platforms.

While the organizations can exercise a high degree of control over the plethora of devices that they are already handling, such as servers, routers, workstations, storage devices, and so on, they cannot do so with their workforce’s mobile devices, without severely limiting those devices’ usability. Then there are the devices of their customers who might have some level of access to company data or networks, depending on the industry and services provided by the organizations. Clearly, a one-size-fits-all security policy cannot be implemented across all categories of devices.

A capable ITAM solution can enable organizations to establish multi-tiered security protocols in place. For instance, the various incoming systems can be separated into multiple categories, such as secure, unsecure, high level employee access, low level employee access, siloed employee access, and so on. Every type of device must be allowed access to only that part of the corporate network for which they are prequalified. This way, sensitive corporate data will never find its way into unsecure mobile devices, preempting any loss of data from the end points.

Security Compliances
Software products, hardware products, and cloud services come with a vastly different set of security, license, and copyright requirements. In addition, every organization has its own corporate security policies. Modern ITAM solutions have proven themselves capable of identifying the various compliance requirements too. They are even capable of detecting improper installation of software, illegal use of an IT asset, and other such non-compliances. For instance, industry regulations like PCI DSS and HIPAA require organizations to record the location and movement of confidential data and any device that accesses it. A meticulously drawn and implemented ITAM program can easily ensure compliance with such regulations.

The ITAM software market is still in its nascent stage with a market size of $708.9 million in 2015. It is expected to reach $1.3 billion in size by 2024. Evidently, this is just the tip of the potential benefits of the ITAM solutions. As more organizations continue to embrace ITAM solutions and realize its benefits, it will further unlock the hidden potential of these solutions. The various regulatory compliance, performance, and cost benefits offered by ITAM solutions bring enough cost savings for the organizations to easily recover the investments made into these solutions. The additional security advantage is just an icing on the cake. But, the security will be the primary driver of enterprise adoption of ITAM solutions, as data privacy, security, and compliance requirements around the globe grow more stringent on the lines similar of EU’s GDPR.

The future of IT is indeed IT asset management solutions.