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Do You “Mind the Gap” When Managing Your IT Assets?

by on March 18, 2014

ImageThe other day my sister was showing me pictures from her recent trip to London and I saw someone wearing a t-shirt with the “Mind the Gap” symbol on it in the background.  For those of you who don’t know, the “Mind the Gap” phrase is designed for passengers of the train to remind them to be careful when boarding the train and stepping over the space between the train and the landing where you wait.  It got me thinking how companies need that reminder, “Mind the Gap”, when managing IT assets throughout their entire lifecycle.

The current gap when managing IT assets happens to be the tail end of their lifecycle, from the moment they go offline to their final disposition destination. I have found that most companies lack a systematic way to manage offline assets.  This gap is a key part of the asset’s lifecycle.  Just because they are offline does not mean they do not retain value or hold sensitive information.  In fact, it’s just the opposite and that is why there is a need to “Mind the Gap” and manage your offline IT assets securely and properly.

Most companies have policies and systems in place to manage assets when they are online, however, security tends to lag when assets go offline and companies do not have automated procedures for managing their offline IT assets.  These companies are not “Minding the Gap”!

With an IT Asset Management (ITAM) solution, an analyst may simply mark an asset as “retired” or “disposed” or “returned” but what about everything that happens in between?  Take destruction for example, there could be steps like degaussing, sign offs from management, groupings of different hardware types, movement between locations, and on and on.  A “retired” asset could mean a lot of different things and any number of steps may be necessary to track for a retired asset.  Without a system in place to fill the gap between your ITAM solution and destroyed, it will be close to impossible to account for and verify 100% of your offline assets.

Why do you need to “Mind the Gap”?

– Most importantly, regardless of the fact that these assets are offline, they are still data bearing assets.  If they are not actually destroyed, if they are lost or stolen prior to destruction, or if data is not properly wiped before being resold, then your organization is running the risk of exposing sensitive information.

– Verify chain of custody: One’s organization will find it very difficult to determine the who, what, when and where of the actions performed on the asset(s) without transfer of ownership marked within a system.  As regulations get stricter, an audit trail will help not only protect the data on your assets, but also your organization.

– Visibility into the process: As I had mentioned a lot can happen to an asset once it goes offline.  Being able to quickly and easily locate assets and know with certainty what the status is of any offline asset will help you ensure assets are going down the right path and do not get lost along the way (don’t want them to miss the train!).

The gap could be larger or smaller for different disposition paths or different asset types, but if you do not “Mind the Gap” and manage those assets properly, you run the risk of your assets not reaching their final destination.

From → General

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