6 Tips For Doing More Security With Less

Security ranks as a top priority in many IT budgets, but this year the money may not be there for many organizations -- here's how to get creative
3. Get more out of your existing security tools and systems.

Look at your organization's existing Citrix or other terminal servers, for instance. "You might [realize] you've got this wonderful resource called Windows Terminal Server...where you can put some of your sensitive assets and eliminate the need to buy a separate product," Forrester's Jaquith says. Rather than purchasing an expensive data protection suite for your endpoints, you can use a Citrix box to help with data protection, he says.

"If the business requires users to be able to process bulk quantities of sensitive information on endpoints, you will still need either encryption tools or [data leakage prevention]," he says.

Consider reorienting the more labor-intensive tools, such as those for data leakage prevention (DLP), he says. Forrester recommends using DLP products mainly for monitoring activity rather than for blocking the leakage of data. And enlist the help of your business units to get the big picture on where data is flowing in the organization. "If you are looking at DLP to stop a data leak, you're probably a little too late. You need to understand how users are using the information they have, what they are downloading, [etc.]," he says.

Meanwhile, some security purchases are definitely non-negotiable. You can't skimp on purchases tied to compliance, regulation, or any auditor red-flagged issues, experts say. "For the most part, your compliance budget is not negotiable," Jaquith says.

4. Tie a security purchase to your compliance mandates.

Speaking of compliance, it can come in handy for helping fund security. Many organizations already employ this tactic, and it's an effective way to get a security purchase through. "The key is finding an angle that clearly ties it to a compliance mandate. That means getting specific," Jaquith says. If you handle payment data, for example, use PCI.

"A Web application firewall is a good example here because PCI DSS specifically calls out for code audits, code review, or WAF as a way to mitigate risks in application security," he adds.

5. Outsource or automate some security functions.

Security doesn't have to do it all in-house. Automating or outsourcing things like data provisioning or data entitlement can save big bucks. Johnnie Konstantas, vice president of marketing for Varonis, which sells automated data entitlement tools, points to the high cost of manpower in data governance tasks.

"A lot of where the money is being spent is in people, and it's being done inefficiently," says Konstantas, citing organizations that have people manually mapping users to data on file shares as an example. "That's a huge pool of data, and they're spending tons of money on IT people manually assigning permissions for who can get to what."

WhiteHat's Grossman says it makes sense to divvy up labor. And that can include farming out some security tasks if doing so is cheaper. "Often, outsourcing particular security functions, such as vulnerability assessment or intrusion detection, can lower the total cost of ownership of a particular action," he says.

6. Take advantage of a security buyer's market.

Enterprises aren't the only ones feeling the pinch of the economy. Security vendors are, too.

"Reasonable security vendors will be flexible on pricing and payment terms, especially when they know you are well-informed about competing solutions," WhiteHat's Grossman says. "Ask for additional discounts if purchasing decisions are made quickly, or by committing to multiyear contracts. Then once you've selected a solution you really love, forge close relationships and help the vendor evangelize by serving as or reference or case study."

That can pay off in the long term, too. You can get speedier support, influence on their product road maps, access to their more "seasoned" engineers, and more discounts down the line, Grossman says.

So far, few enterprises are taking advantage of this buyer's market, however, because they don't realize some vendors are willing to wheel and deal. "People are crossing off solutions they 'can't afford' without first investigating and trying to negotiate," Grossman says.

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Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading