As the IT landscape evolves, and as companies diversify the assets they bring to their networks - including on premise, cloud and personal assets - one of the biggest challenges becomes maintaining an accurate picture of which assets are present on your network. Furthermore, while the accurate picture is the end goal, the real challenge becomes optimizing the means to obtain and maintain that picture current. The traditional discovery paradigm of continuous discovery sweeps of your whole network by itself is becoming obsolete. As companies grow, sweeping becomes a burden on the network. In fact, in a highly dynamic environment, traditional sweeping approaches pretty quickly become stale and irrelevant.
Our customers are dealing with networks made up of thousands of connected assets. Lots of them are decommissioned and many others brought to life multiple times a day from different physical locations on their local or virtual networks. In a world where many assets are not 'owned' by their organization, or unauthorized/unmanaged assets connect to their network (such as mobile devices or personal computers), understanding the risk those assets introduce to their network is paramount to the success of their security program.
Rapid7 believes this very process of keeping your inventory up to date should be automated and instantaneous. Our technology allows our customers to use non-sweeping technologies like monitoring DHCP, DNS, Infoblox, and other relevant servers/applications. We also enable monitoring through technology partners such as vSphere or AWS for virtual infrastructure, and mobile device inventory with ActiveSync.. In addition, Rapid7's research team through its Sonar project technology (this topic deserves it's own blog) is able to scan the internet and understand our customer's external presence. All of these automated techniques provide great visibility and complements the traditional approaches such that our customer's experiences on our products revolves around taking action and reducing risk as opposed to configuring the tool.
Why should you care? It really comes down to good hygiene and good security practices. It is unacceptable not to know about the presence of a machine that is exfiltrating data off of your network or rogue assets listening on your network. And beyond being unacceptable, it can take you out of business. Brand damage, legal and compliance risks are great concerns that are not mitigated by an accurate inventory alone, however, without knowing those assets exists in your network in a timely manner it is impossible to assess the risk they bring and take action.
SANS Institute has this topic rated as the Top security control https://www.sans.org/critical-security-controls/control/1. They bring up key questions that companies should be asking to their security teams: How long does it take to detect new assets on their networks? How long does it take their current scanner to detect unauthorized assets? How long does it take to isolate/remove unauthorized assets from the network? What details (location, department) can the scanner identify on unauthorized devices? and plenty more.
Let Rapid7 technology worry about inventory. Once you've got asset inventory covered, then you can move to remediation, risk analysis, and other much more fun security topics with peace of mind that if it's in your network then you will detect it in a timely manner.