Just a quick reminder, at some point during each quarter, it is a good idea to enact a process to seek out and remove any end-of-life products in your environment. This is not only a best practice but a significant risk reduction measure as well. Make it an ongoing periodic process, and you’ve got a powerful weapon against threats and emerging issues stemming from end-of-life hardware, firmware, and software in your networks.
How to Search for End-Of-Life Products In Your Environment
The first step is to identify the devices, applications, and firmware that are no longer supported by their vendors. You can do this manually or with a tool. The next step is to determine which of those devices have been deployed in your network. Once you know where they are, you need to find them. There are several ways to search for these devices:
Use Network Inventory Tools
Network inventory tools such as Nmap and Nessus will allow you to scan your entire network to locate all of the devices on your network. These tools will also tell you what operating systems and versions of software/firmware are running on the device. If you’re using a vendor-specific tool, you’ll be able to see if there are any known vulnerabilities associated with the product in many cases.
Talk to Device and Application Owners
If you don’t already have a relationship with the owners of the devices and applications, then you should start building one now. It’s important to get to know the people who own the devices and applications so that you can ask questions about how they use the devices and applications. You may even want to consider getting an end-of-life security policy together for the organization so that you can make sure everyone understands the risks of end-of-life components.
Once you have discussed the issues with the owner, remove the component if possible. Otherwise, add it to a list of components to look for workarounds or replacements. Many organizations that can’t manage to replace an end-of-life component either place it in a low trust network zone, front-end it with firewalls or ACLs, and increase monitoring and detection of the assets involved. Of course, the component should be reviewed quarterly until it can be removed from service.
Doing this process every quarter will increase your networks’ overall stability and trust worthiness, plus reduce risk and management headaches. It’s well worth your time and an effective part of an overall risk management strategy.