Throughout my career, I've taken part in cybersecurity investigations in many different Fortune 500 companies. Too often, I see organizations that own advanced cybersecurity technologies that are being utilized for only a fraction of what they're capable of doing. Often, these are good products, but the buyers either don't know the full extent of what they're buying or don't fully understand the workload required before and after implementation. It's like buying a Ferrari and not knowing how to drive.
When acquiring big-ticket cybersecurity solutions, especially those that have hardware attached, buyers must remember that these solutions require a lot of coordination and advanced skills to utilize them correctly. Deploying a sophisticated cybersecurity solution doesn't take place in a matter of days. You must build out advanced use cases, baseline the technology in your environment, then update and configure it to the risks your business is most likely to face. It's a process that takes several weeks or even months. And much like when considering a high-end vehicle, a person shouldn't look at only the sticker price. Organizations must also account for the cost and time associated with ongoing maintenance in their specific environment.
You must also assess the skills and expertise of your team memberse to determine if they have what's needed to configure the solution, to not only get it operational but to optimize and use it to its full capabilities. It is no small undertaking, and even veteran security team members may quickly find themselves overwhelmed if they have never worked with a similar technology or have never been involved in a deployment project of that magnitude.
I see this often with cybersecurity technologies like endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions, behavioral analytics, deception technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven solutions. Many large enterprises have EDR solutions, but very few are actually doing managed detection and response. They're simply collecting events on the EDR and bypassing deeper investigations or threat analysis necessary for responding quickly to incidents.
The descriptions of a technology's ability to detect, contain, and eradicate threats can sound impressive, and it can be easy for security professionals to be moved to buy a solution because of its capabilities. But if your team doesn't have the resources to maintain and drive it effectively, there is no sense buying it in the first place. It will just end up as wasted budget.
Develop a Security Maturity Framework — and Stick to It
The companies that I've seen fall victim to this common problem typically did not have a full business justification for buying that cybersecurity solution. They may have seen a need, or they may have been enticed by the idea that a particular solution would give them immediate visibility, but they never took it further and asked themselves how that product would fit into their security ecosystem. Visibility only goes so far. If you don't have the capability — either on your own team or through a partner — to review that visibility and take action.
To get the most out of cybersecurity investments, organizations should begin by creating a security maturity framework. This framework will help your organization assess where it stands today in its security capabilities, identify weaknesses and strengths, and provide a path forward for developing a more advanced cybersecurity program. Begin by assessing your organizations' risk tolerance. The lower the risk tolerance, the higher your security maturity will need to be.
Next, evaluate your people, processes, and technologies by comparing your program with the requirements of proven industry frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (C2M2). The latter was developed by the US government for use in the energy sector, but the basic model can be applied to any sector.
Once you've built a security maturity framework that extends three to five years in the future, you will be able to determine where you have gaps or areas of risk, and then be able to prioritize technologies or services to fill those gaps. The security maturity framework helps an organization focus on the technologies or products that fit its plan and not get distracted or tempted into buying a technology solution because it's new and exciting.
Assess Your Team's Ability to Drive
After creating a security maturity framework, assess your team's capability to manage and continually optimize the technology products in your plan. Ask yourself whether your team can take on this task or whether it would be more effective to garner support using outside resources. Ask yourself whether the newly acquired capabilities are now core to operations and whether it's important to retain expertise specific to those capabilities. If so, be prepared to invest in training and continued education to grow the skill sets of your current and future team members.
With every cybersecurity product purchase, you should be conducting a full skills and services assessment. No exceptions. Only then will you be able to ensure you are optimizing and maximizing leading-edge cybersecurity technologies, steering your cybersecurity program straight down the fast lane to its full potential.
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