Managing Risk – Missing/Stolen Assets that Return

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Multi-factor authentication

Theft and/or loss of company assets and employee devices can be frustrating, but when missing or stolen devices appear on your company network, the situation can become scary. If a hacker wants to access an open enterprise like a hospital or from a parking lot over WiFi, then what better device than an authenticated laptop? Multi-factor authentication is great at providing an added level of protection to your company’s operations and data without overly impacting ease-of-use for end users. If you aren’t careful, however, then lost and stolen assets can enter your environment and cause harm.

Multi-factor authentication works great when you control the asset

Company-owned assets and approved employee devices are registered and authorized to access resources on the company network. This is the first level of security. If the device isn’t trusted, then someone can’t gain access. The user then signs in to the device either using a type of biometric scanner (more secure) or, more often, using traditional passwords and PIN codes (less secure). The user is only able to access company resources and data if he or she is using an authenticated device known and trusted on the company network. The strategy is that two levels of authentication provide security assurance – and they do most of the time.

Why missing and stolen assets are problematic

The multi-factor authentication security protocol can be less secure in the case of a lost or stolen device. If a would-be hacker is in close proximity to a building with Wi-Fi, then he or she can potentially gain open access to the company’s IT environment. There is still the challenge of obtaining the user’s password or PIN, but most hackers have determined how to overcome those barriers. When your employees are not in possession and control of an authenticated device, you must take action steps.

What you can do to manage risk and protect your company’s resources

There are 3 actions every company should take to manage the risk of lost and stolen assets returning to your IT environment and becoming a security vulnerability.

  1. Ensure operating systems are updated and security features enabled. Conducting frequent inventories of device configurations and turning on remote security and administrative functions can enable company administrators to access lost/stolen devices, lock them and, if necessary, delete sensitive information before it can be used to cause the company harm.
  2. Establish a policy and process for reporting lost and stolen devices to the company administrator. This will allow them to be blocked from accessing company resources. You must also have a process for unblocking the device if it is recovered.
  3. Monitor for blocked devices trying to access network resources. You may have blocked a single device, but hackers tend not to quit easily and will likely try again in hopes of being lucky. Because the intruder has to be located in physical proximity to a building with WiFi, building/parking lot security cameras can possibly help ID the intruder, so law enforcement is able to apprehend him or her.

Effective monitoring requires the right toolset to help your network administrators and security staff identify potential risks and act quickly. Discovery and visualization capabilities like those found in Virima can help make this process easy and dependable. Lost and stolen assets certainly frustrate end-users, but when those assets return in the hands of a hacker, the situation just became scary.

The ability to monitor configurations of most common operating systems, correlate data with loss prevention databases and network configuration tools help provide your staff with a complete monitoring picture. To learn more about how Virima will help your company manage IT risk, download our IT asset security circle white paper here .

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