CMDB as a crucial base for cybersecurity

9 November 2022| 4 min|Adam Bernaś - Chief Product Officer

SPOC

Cybersecurity is a continuously growing topic, as cyberattacks on big and medium organizations are a constant and serious threat. Since the start of the coronavirus, cyberattacks have increased by 300%, and as reported by Accenture, 68% of business leaders foresee the rising tendency. There are numerous cybersecurity tools and technologies to stop the threats. But to keep your organization’s safety on a good level, you need to look into your configuration management quality. Asset management is critical to improved security on the web in companies that require tracking, updating and mapping the hardware and software assets that have access to the organization’s data.  

CMDB
Source: ServiceNow

Why configuration management database is necessary for security 

Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a valuable tool if it can be trusted. It allows you to log devices in the organization’s IT infrastructure together with relations to other CIs, facilitating better targeting and resolving any security breaches or devices that can put your company at risk. Therefore, CMDB is a sort of foundation for your ServiceNow platform, a single source of truth for IT asset configuration data. It can improve your cybersecurity and help you with critical operations and compliance audits if it is complete, accurate, and up-to-date.   

Keeping your data secure is challenging. Unfortunately, most companies know its importance, but many do not prioritize it. Knowing and doing it in the right way are two different things. Investing in CMDB is the right step, as you can only gain by minimizing the impact of outages, improving network security, accelerating issues resolutions and simplifying compliance. A well-established CMDB will answer questions about the number of:  

  • a particular type of hardware in the organization;  
  • installations of specific software;   
  • users affected by an email service outage in a given time frame;  
  • software licenses to be purchased. 

Business value from CMDB implementation 

Service, operations & asset management, cybersecurity, cloud operations and organizational compliance. They all rely on accurate information coming from CMDB. If configuration items (CIs) are kept accurate, the IT (and/or SecOps) team’s reaction time to risky situations is fast, which translates into reducing financial losses.

Well-functioning CMDB helps keep your ServiceNow instance healthy, improves the services lifecycle management and processes effectiveness. By having a total overview and control of your organization’s IT infrastructure, you can model your services and digital products and accelerate time-to-market, which as a consequence, improves the pace of innovation. Your organization can move more fluidly at the pace of its network, customers, markets and competitors. Your IT team gets the right technology to track and lower the risk.

Discover 4 things you need to do for successful implementation

How we helped our client establish a well-functioning CMDB 

One of our clients asked for a simple Configuration Management Database audit. We checked their CMDB and all the processes connected to it as well as assets that are using the CMDB in the organization (as well as corresponding assets). The scope of the audit was to find errors and score the quality of the data. We were supposed to discover if everything is reported and certified in the organization’s CMDB environment. During the audit, we analyzed company infrastructure, including hardware, computers and other connected devices, and the relations between hardware and software. We also focused on the business aspect, the CMDB structure and the KPIs of the processes. 

Audit results 

We discovered the lack of integrations, manual and uncontrolled processes connected to assets. There was no configuration management process or system control whatsoever. We found many duplicates, assets that were not used or imported for a long time and technical errors. The audit became a trigger to apply changes in asset management and promoted best practices through the business services oriented approach. The business was willing to look into configuration and asset management not only because of cybersecurity but also from a holistic point of view. It created a higher sensibility to CMDB processes across the digital services and how good quality data can improve the whole system.   

CMDB challenges 

As a big corporation, our client highly customized the ServiceNow instance. That implied some difficulties in rebuilding the CMDB. Some of the custom solutions were not perfectly fitted for ServiceNow but were somewhat adjusted to the internal needs. It created a few limitations.   

Main challenges:  

  • Duplicated CIs with empty serial numbers or with no name. 
  • High customization of the ServiceNow instance. 
  • Asset synchronization.  
  • Manual processes.  
  • Irregular updates. 

Our solutions for a better asset management

We prepared a separate dashboard for assets and CMDB. We synchronized the assets with CMDB and designed a set of technical reports highlighting data management inconsistencies that need extra attention. During our audit, we found out that there is an urgent need for a channel service data model to monitor the security across the organization.

As a result of our findings we:  

  • tracked errors and fixed them;  
  • proposed automatic insert process; 
  • came up with an automatic way to keep the CMDB up to date by doing regular scanning; 
  • applied ServiceNow Discovery for improved cybersecurity; 
  • developeddefined configuration management process and asset management process with controlled updates etc. 

Follow CMDB security best practices

Establishing a CMDB and maintaining a healthy digital environment for your customers or users are two different stories. A good CMDB should be up-to-date, and you should have good practices to get the best out of it. You need to allow the system to do the deep scanning of the network. This way, you can track and identify all the connected devices and, if required, disconnect them. You should also ensure that the IT asset database is up-to-date and complete for better system visibility.

Download EBOOK: 6 stories of implementing CMDB in ServiceNow

It is vital to carry out automated asset discoveries to stay on top of assets’ patches and updates, as it enables a smooth detection process and lets your IT team find the right assets to upgrade them in the system. Keeping an accurate asset inventory will help you better understand all the data maintained in your CMDB to know what kind of assets you need to protect and how. Remember that an accurate CMDB will be a foundation for different functions contributing to critical business performance.   

CMDB
Source: ServiceNow