Why 2023 is the year to go agentless

In today’s fast paced IT environment, networks are changing at an accelerating pace. In just these past few years we have seen the widespread migration to the cloud, introduction of remote working and adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. What we are facing here is a crisis of complexity. Users want more functionality, but this creates a web of complexity, the perfect environment for cyber attackers to manoeuvre.

Attackers always have the advantage because just one gap in your defences is enough for them to get in. Old, dated agent-based asset management software is struggling to keep up, and giving way to a new breed of agentless security asset management software. As the old saying goes, “you can only protect what you can see”, so it really is important to get it right.

Why asset management software is struggling

Asset management was never designed for security, it was designed for ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). Basically, it is IT maintenance software repurposed for security, and it’s age is starting to show.

Traditionally, asset discovery has been done through active scans, where probes are sent out to identify devices and services running on them. While this approach can provide useful insight into your IT landscape it is simply not up to the task of modern IT needs.

The biggest issue with active scans is that they’re very disruptive. Scanning tools can generate large amounts of network traffic, causing congestion, downtime and disruptions to workers. And some devices or services don’t even respond to the scans, leading to incomplete or inaccurate data.

Another drawback of active scanning is poor visibility. It misses any assets that are offline during the scan.

Active scans don’t gather enough information to perform security functions, so you also need to install agents on devices.

Agents are information gathering software that you install on devices to perform security functions. All the big asset management software use agents. But now they are struggling to force agents to work with IoT devices, developing new types of agents when really, agents are yesterday’s technology.

Also, let’s say you find out there is an unmanaged device on your network from a scan. How do you install an agent on it if you don’t know where it is? Scans don’t provide enough information to physically find devices meaning there is a lot of manual device hunting to install agents on them. It’s simply too much work for IT departments now, since networks are changing at such a rapid pace. Agents get in the way of productivity and network growth. And the problem of Shadow IT is only getting worse.

So why agentless?

Agentless asset discovery can find any asset as soon as it connects to the network, with no extra installations necessary. It’s much simpler.

Agentless asset discovery tools use different techniques to identify assets on a network, such as network topology mapping, SNMP polling, and passive monitoring of NetFlow data. These techniques do not require installing any agents or scans, making them less disruptive and more accurate.

Passive monitoring, for example, can detect devices and applications by analysing the traffic passing through the network, without the need to install agents. This technique can identify devices that are not visible through active scans, such as IoT devices and other non-computing devices.

Agentless asset discovery also provides continuous monitoring, which means that organisations can track changes in their network environment in real-time. This feature allows them to identify new devices or applications and track changes in their configurations, reducing the risk of security breaches and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Passive network monitoring is up and coming in 2023. You can see many passive network monitoring products, that were designed for network operations, that are now shifting gears and repackaging themselves for security. And for good reason, agentless is the future of IT asset discovery.

But these products are still in their infancy in terms of security, they aren’t really fleshed out yet with immature security features.

However, Rebasoft offers a security-first, agentless cyber security solution, built from the ground up to using real-time data to perform security functions.

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