9/17/2018
10:30 AM
Gary Golomb
Gary Golomb
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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Security Teams

Security requires smart people, processes, and technology. Too often, the "people" portion of the PPT equation is neglected.



Worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies is expected to reach nearly $1.3 trillion this year, according to a forecast from IDC. But securing against today's threats requires more than just technology solutions — it demands a strong security team.

What constitutes a strong security team? If you've had a malware infection or some other security breach, you might think yours missed the mark. However, the analysis of a team goes beyond a single event.

Based on the experience of working with hundreds of security professionals and some of the most security-conscious organizations in the world, here are seven habits of the most effective security teams.

1. They Invest in Intelligence, Not Security Silver Bullets
Security technologies are a means to an end. Despite heavy investment, companies often find out about security incidents months after they happen and then scramble to close the hole after data has been exfiltrated.

What's worse is that post-breach analysis typically uncovers warning signs that were overlooked. The best security teams use technology to become more proactive in making risk management decisions. They use technology to combine data from across the enterprise, so analysts can make more intelligent decisions.

2. They Understand What Needs Protecting
Attackers have an end goal in mind when aiming at a company. Successful teams adopt an attacker mindset to understand how each and every device, server, and piece of technology relates to this end goal — and how each puts their organizations at risk if compromised.

Attackers spend an inordinate amount of time studying their targets and infrastructure, looking for weaknesses and reassessing the environment every step of the way. Understanding these patterns is critical to protect against the attacks. You can't protect everything all the time — prioritizing assets that are most critical to the organization and the likely avenues of attacks on those is a sign of a great team.

3. They Recognize That Alerts Don't Tell the Whole Story
The most effective security teams almost never "respond to security alerts." Instead, they use them as another data point in the risk assessment that defines their priorities.

Chasing after every alert provides a direct line of failure for security teams, creating chaos and work without improving enterprise security. The best security teams consider alert severity in context, with factors such as what's being targeted and the likelihood of impact to the organization caused by the activity. Effective security teams prioritize the incidents that could cause the most harm.

4. They Understand No Amount of AI Replaces Human Intuition
Replacing security teams with artificial intelligence and machine learning may be one of the most overhyped — and dangerous — trends in our industry.

Human decision-making is indispensable in creating and enforcing strong enterprise security because human insight compensates for the intrinsic limitations of mathematical models. Technology investment should focus on supporting the security teams and automating cumbersome tasks such as forensic investigations that require a high degree of process-oriented expertise. The best teams democratize this capability and empower humans to make important risk management decisions.

5. They Learn from Yesterday to Protect Against Tomorrow
The best teams learn from past attacks to better protect themselves in the future. Although attackers will improve their malware and tools, their strategies remain largely the same. The most mature security teams don't just look for malware — they look for behaviors that are anomalous and don't belong.

6. They View Security as a Team Sport
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be a global shortfall of 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs by 2021. Security teams need to create the next generation of professionals. The most successful teams do this by creating processes that guarantee repeatable results. The best teams have repeatable playbooks that can be used by anyone on the team — and have mechanisms for preserving, sharing, and applying institutional knowledge into their technology stack

7. They Continually Sharpen the Saw
The best teams continually improve the security apparatus by testing for vulnerabilities and documenting the knowledge they generate about their organization. This information is fed to the security teams so they can identify and secure the vulnerabilities in the network infrastructure. This culture of collective responsibility keeps the entire team focused on the broader goal.

The job of defending the enterprise is continually evolving. It can be tempting to think that buying the latest security technology is the best and only pathway to a secure organization. However, even companies that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on security investments get breached.

Security requires a combination of investment in people, processes, and technology. Too often, the "people" portion of the PPT equation is neglected.

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Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec. 3-6, 2018, with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Gary Golomb has nearly two decades of experience in threat analysis and has led investigations and containment efforts in a number of notable cases. With this experience — and a track record of researching and teaching state-of-the art detection and response ... View Full Bio
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