With digital assets rapidly being acquired and deployed, inventory monitoring can be vital to cybersecurity preparedness and attack mitigation.

In a multi-industry poll of more than 728 technology decision-makers across more than a dozen global industries, including information technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, health care, and retail, 70% of respondents reported that a secure cloud management strategy was key to avoiding cybersecurity attacks.

Also, 67% of respondents cited continuous asset monitoring as the cornerstone of that secure cloud management strategy.

The poll included in-depth interviews from public- and private-sector organizations in the Asia-Pacific region (22%), Europe (38%), North America (24%), and the Middle East and Africa (13%). Conducted by MIT Technology Review Insights in association with Palo Alto Networks, the study has uncovered complex challenges APAC respondents faced in securing networks and systems for remote workers in the post-pandemic era.

Other report highlights include:

  • More attacks expected: 51% of respondents had experienced a cyberattack originating from a digital asset they did not know about or did not manage, and 16% expected such an attack eventually.
  • Securing cloud assets was a priority: 43% of respondents reported that more than half of their digital assets were in the cloud. Well-funded and well-organized hackers and the fast-evolving nature of technology were forcing organizations to consider multiple ways to secure their cloud environments and monitor digital assets.
  • C-suite executives were paying attention to cybersecurity: Respondent organizations mitigated risks by adding cybersecurity to the C-suite agenda. 68% of respondents indicated that their organizations’ board of directors requested an ‘attack surface management plan’ for cybersecurity this year.
  • A need to gain control over shadow IT: The latter comprises rogue purchases of cloud services and installations of IoT-type connected devices, which opens the doors for bad actors. Smart locks and other types of mobile access applications for employees can allow hackers to gain access to corporate networks.
  • Importance of monitoring inventory: 46% of respondents conducted inventories to discover unknown or un-prioritized digital assets. 31% reported taking such action monthly or less frequently.
  • Greater focus on developing talent: Competitive salaries, stimulating projects, and opportunities for upskilling can help organizations attract and retain top talent. Even employees without extensive cybersecurity skills can mitigate security risks by increasing their understanding of the threat landscape.
  • Seeking expert consultancy in APAC: Only 29% of APAC respondents used the help of external experts.

According to Palo Alto Networksresearch, 79% of observed issues in the poll came from the cloud. Its Senior Vice President of Products, Tim Junio said: “This (poll) makes all too clear the reality of unknown or unmanaged assets: they are a major security risk, and the only way to protect yourself is to have a complete and up-to-date inventory of all internet-facing assets.”