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Commentary

From FUD to Fix: Why the CISO-Vendor Partnership Needs to Change Now

CISOs and their staffs are up against too many systems, screens, and alerts, with too few solutions to effectively address pain points.

Memo to cybersecurity vendors: Enough already with the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) scenarios, followed by your "magic-bullet" solutions and sales pitches. CISOs' plates were full enough before the pandemic. Today, they are operating on perpetual overload, and they need real and immediate responses to their problems.

Why? Because they are much savvier about the modern nature of attacks and they now assume that they can and will get breached (or just as likely, already have been breached). So, they don't have time for FUD fog from dozens of vendors, each with a single-purpose solution to hawk. They realize that the cost and complexities of acquiring and implementing these tools cannot be sustained.

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How could they? There are too many systems. Too many screens. Too many unmanaged devices with more on the way, thanks to embedded systems, BYOD, and the Internet of Things. There's too much information for beleaguered analysts to deal with as they struggle to assemble the "story" behind every single incident.

Then, there are the alerts — more than 10,000 a day for most security professionals, with roughly 80% of survey respondents stating that on average it takes about 10 minutes to investigate each alert, and nearly half suggesting a false-positive return of 50% or higher. All of this results in a simple yet foreboding reality: Bad "things" get missed. Analysts simply cannot get to everything.

CISOs understand that it isn't always possible to monitor every app, user, and endpoint. But they recognize that it is critical to have tools in place that enable their teams to identify where threats exist, so they block and/or remove them in real time, while minimizing impact.

This means vendors need to change their tune — now — if they want to be valued as true partners by CISOs who are still receiving the go-ahead for spending on cyber projects despite these challenges. Four out of five organizations will see their cybersecurity investment increase this year. Overall, the global cybersecurity market is forecast to exceed $326 billion by 2027, up from $167 billion today.

The upshot is there are still opportunities for vendors to deliver lasting, positive value, but CISOs are going to evaluate and choose more wisely. To deliver real fixes instead of dwelling upon FUD, vendors must incorporate the following into their partnership playbook.

Empower CISOs With Actionable Data
Hundreds of vendors pound on the door of CISOs with point solutions. But point solutions cannot take organizations to the next level of threat defense. Instead of constantly getting outpaced by the variety, speed, and sophistication of attacks, security teams will get ahead with tools that deliver durable, customizable, real-time contextual insights to find incidents quickly, and hunt for undiscovered attackers. They also thrive when these tools can provide actionable evidence of new threats as they are discovered, and allow that evidence to be incorporated into their other analytic tools, improving team members' capabilities as the landscape continues to shift.

Don't Hold Customers Ransom — Open Up to Open Source
Siloed, single-purpose proprietary products put CISOs in a box. The solutions do what they do but often make it hard for security analysts to see how or why an alert was generated. They normally don't offer access to the underlying data, which can be critical to understanding context. Open source communities are about building toward something better, sharing knowledge to expand upon an already-rich repository of resources.

By bringing security professionals together so they solve the problems that CISOs are seeing every day, open source validates the timeless adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By incorporating open source projects into their solutions, and contributing to those projects, vendors add significant value for their customers and can use their knowledge to be a true partner that will provide actionable data for analysis, forensics, and real-time response.

Be Transparent and Available
Ultimately, it's all about the customer, right? Yet CISOs frequently encounter interoperability issues as they attempt to swiftly deploy or replace solutions. Vendors must take a proactive role in transparently collaborating with other vendors to quickly resolve interoperability obstacles. They also bear the responsibility of ensuring that customers can easily and seamlessly integrate new technologies into their security stack while being available to them in case any issues arise. It is critical that CISOs see early value in their investments instead of headaches.

If organizations settle for vendors that rely on FUD to sell more point solutions, they will find themselves falling behind. CISOs shouldn't be satisfied by settling; they should insist on products and services from customer-first vendors that incorporate real-time data with community-generated insights. They must demand nothing less than productive partnerships that will stand up to whatever the adversary comes up with today ... and tomorrow.

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