3 Ways Manual Processes Fuel Risk Creation

By Michael
December 1, 2015

Managing offline IT assets may not be a priority for many businesses, but it needs to be if you want to avoid serious regulatory and security risks. This isn’t to say that most companies don’t know what they are doing. IT leaders, of course, know what is necessary to keep data safe. Instead, the issue is more about prioritization. Assets that are out of sight, and out of use, are often going to end up out of mind. This is especially true as technology teams face mounting complexity and huge fiscal challenges.

All of these factors come together to create a situation in which offline IT assets are so far down the list of risk management priorities that they are a perfect target for hackers. Physical access to a hard drive that has been erased, but not destroyed, is a gold mine for a data thief. For an IT manager trying to keep up with staggering operational requirements, that same hard disk is a nuisance that needs to be packaged, shipped and sent to the third-party company that destroys hard disks for them. Even if a company has its own offline IT asset disposal systems and isn’t outsourcing the process, the act of moving assets between departments and managing them along the way can be cumbersome. Three ways having manual process in place can create risk include:

1. Poor documentation
Offline IT assets can go missing with ease. Whether an insider threat has stolen a device and hoped to get away with it, somebody moved it to a different shelf or somebody shipped it to a disposal specialist by accident, there are plenty of ways to misplace an old IT asset. What’s more, the fact that offline IT assets aren’t always a priority means that you could easily go days without noticing a problem, especially if you haven’t allocated significant resources to managing these systems. These problems are heightened when you have manual documentation processes in place.

When employees are asked to manually record the location of assets as they interact with them, they will not only operate at a much slower pace, they are also more likely to make mistakes. Writing the wrong letter or number from a serial code, for example, can lead to an item appearing as lost. Manual documentation can also lead to records only being viewed by managers on a periodic basis, making it more difficult to identify lost or stolen items quickly.

Automating documentation and adopting serialization streamlines all of these processes and ensures that managers are flagged immediately if a barcode scan reveals something problematic. It also accelerates everyday operations, leaving your workers with more time to problem solve as they work, ensuring they can keep better track of items.

2. Items slip through the cracks
Offline IT assets often go through multiple checkpoints between being unplugged and getting destroyed. Slow, manual processes in moving these assets around can make it easy for somebody to drop an item by accident or steal it without somebody noticing. Checklists must be manually referenced at each station to prevent this problem, and unless your technicians are extremely thorough, it can be easy for them to miss something. For example, somebody checking in a batch of 125 hard disks may not manually count them all, but just sign off on the shipment. Having somebody sneak away with one of those drives is easy.

Offline IT asset management systems make it easier to verify asset shipments through serialization. Furthermore, as the system interconnects at every checkpoint, you have an electronic paper trail that will tell you precisely when an item goes missing if a problem arises at any location.

3. People make mistakes
Human error is a huge source of risk for enterprise IT departments. The more dependent you are on manual processes, the more likely you are to run into mistakes that lead to data loss or theft.

Solutions like AssetAware automatically track offline IT assets through every phase of the disposal process and can integrate with barcodes and similar technologies to simplify asset tracking. This limits the potential for human error and lets you catch any mistakes quickly if they do happen. All told, advanced management systems can play a key role in helping your IT staff deal with offline IT assets while minimizing risk.

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