The software components that are connected to your IT infrastructure and network are both an advantage and a threat to the security of your business or organization. When properly maintained, and patches and updates are applied consistently, various types of software serve as valuable assets that benefit workflows, operations, and employee performance. However, when organizations fail to maintain these systems, gaping holes are created in the organizations’ cybersecurity (cyber security) that are vulnerable to exploitation by malicious users. Your perforated defenses likely won’t be able to stop an attacker, leading to issues of fraud, identity theft, and data breaches for your business that may close your doors for good.
This means that if your organization is spending thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a year on cybersecurity protections like firewall solutions, malware protection, anti-spam, and antivirus systems, but it fails to address one of your greatest vulnerabilities, then your efforts are pointless. Not keeping your software up to date leaves your business, clients, and all of your data vulnerable to cybercrime — the cost of which is expected to reach $6 trillion worldwide by 2021.
This is why software asset management (SAM) from a managed service provider (MSP) like FPA is critical to the safety of your business, clients, and reputation. A managed service provider is a company that partners with your IT services team to secure and maintain your network as much as possible to keep it up and running at optimal efficiency and effectiveness. They remain up-to-date on the latest industry news to know about the latest cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and concerns as well as how best to address them, such as updating software to fix critical vulnerabilities.
For an interesting twist on celebrating Improve Your Office Day on Thursday, Oct. 4, we invite you to work on improving the status and condition of your organization’s SAM. Here are a few of the ways that an MSP can aid the software management efforts of your organization.
The Risks of Unmanaged Software on Your System
Cybercriminals are always looking for the path of least resistance — to do the most damage with the least amount of work. Rather than trying to break through a hardened firewall, it’s significantly easier to bypass it altogether by taking an alternate route through outdated, unsupported, or unauthorized software.
Remaining compliant with software license agreements and managing the lifecycle of software assets is vital to your organization. The use of unauthorized and unlicensed software can exact a steep price. Because unlicensed and unauthorized software is not included on the “approved” list of software that receives regular upgrades or updates, that means that it is more prone to falling prey to viruses, malware, and other forms of attack. And, without a license for the software, your company is left to deal with the aftermath on its own and may even face legal consequences and fines as well for having pirated software installed.
These are just some of the reasons why it is imperative for every business to perform IT security and software asset audits regularly. These audits shine some light on what assets are connected to your network and what different types of software are installed (both authorized and unauthorized software).
What Software Asset Management Looks Like
According to the BSA (The Software Alliance) Software Asset Management Guide, software management is a multi-step process:
- Develop policies and procedures.
- Audit your software.
- Determine what is or is not authorized.
- Establish a routine audit.
There are a lot of “moving parts” involved with effectively managing software for a business or organization. It involves many different tasks, including:
- Managing, securing, and keeping all of your software up to date;
- Keeping track of current software licenses and what applications are or aren’t being used; and
- Tracking industry changes and news impacting software.
SAM provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s asset inventory (hardware and software alike), risks, and usage. As stated in a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article:
“Effective SAM provides critical insights into the number of devices and applications deployed, along with their location and warranty status, which can significantly reduce unnecessary product costs. As a budgetary tool, SAM identifies discrepancies between software licenses owned and deployed and ensures companies are investing wisely and not paying for licenses they aren’t using.”
How an MSP Provides Software Asset Management Services
Software asset management should be an “always on” method of maintenance and support. Efficient software management should be a proactively seeking out any issues and bugs, addressing and patching vulnerabilities, and resolving any other software-related problems that may arise.
As an agile and experienced MSP, the team at FPA Technology, Inc., operates a U.S.-based Network Operations Center (NOC) in California that uses sophisticated network management tools to monitor and manage your various network components, including your software. As an MSP that works with businesses across a variety of industries — certified public accountants (CPAs) firms and business management organizations, registered investment advisors (RIAs), non-profits, distributors and manufacturers, — we understand the importance of keeping your software current and running in optimal condition to reduce malfunctions and downtime.
What is your organization’s IT staff or MSP doing to manage your software? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below or by sending me an email if you’d like to discuss the topic further one-on-one.