According to recent research by ESG, 52% of respondents believe security operations are more difficult today than they were two years ago. Responses stated this was due to multiple factors, such as the increasingly dangerous threat landscape, a growing attack surface, the volume and complexity of security alerts, and public cloud proliferation.
Today’s threats are more sophisticated than ever, making them more challenging to defend against. Security teams must constantly do more with less, protecting more data, endpoints, and applications. And, as the threat landscape evolves, so will they, but chances are they must do so with fewer resources.
The growing list of challenges is never-ending. So what tops the list?
An Ever-Growing Attack Surface
Organizations are collecting and storing more data than ever, driven by more cloud-based applications and services. This new on-prem/off-prem environment has created more potential entry points for attackers. Additionally, many organizations lose track of their assets, failing to update policies and their security infrastructure, leaving them vulnerable to attacks that exploit known vulnerabilities.
Another reason security teams face more challenges today is the increasing number of mobile devices and cloud apps used by employees. These devices and apps can provide a convenient way for employees to access company data, but they can also be a security risk if they are not adequately secured.
The Evolving Threat Landscape
As the attack surface grows, so does the number of potential threats. Security teams must now contend with a broader range of threats, including sophisticated malware, zero-day exploits, and ransomware. Additionally, attackers are becoming more brazen and are targeting high-profile organizations with well-funded security operations.
In addition, the rise of social media has created new opportunities for hackers to launch cyber attacks. Social media platforms can spread malware or gather information about people’s online habits, used to launch targeted attacks and infiltrate enterprise organizations.
Increasing Compliance Requirements
Organizations must comply with an ever-growing number of regulations, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), that require security teams to put in place additional controls and processes, which can be costly and time-consuming. Additionally, compliance failures can result in heavy fines and strain an already tight budget.
According to (ISC)²'s 2021 Cyber Workforce Report, the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow 65 percent to defend organizations’ critical assets effectively. While the number of professionals required to fill the gap has decreased, the number of qualified cyber professionals will fall even further due to the growing demand for highly skilled individuals.
Complex Tech Stack
Enterprises frequently deploy new security tools and services to address changing needs and increased threats. As previously mentioned, a typical enterprise SOC may use a combination of twenty or more technologies, making it difficult to customize each solution for its environment. The interoperability issues caused by the possibility of using multiple vendors make it very challenging to get a complete picture of your overall security environment.
The Need to Adapt
Despite these challenges, security teams must find ways to adapt to protect their organizations effectively against ever-evolving threats.
So what can they do? It starts with working together cross-functionally and putting the right strategy in place. There’s no one size fits all for security. Every organization is different. Putting the right plan in place will help ensure alignment on what’s needed to protect the organization effectively.
Understanding Your Attack Surface
An organization’s attack surface represents the different points that attackers could exploit. This includes physical locations, networks, applications, databases, servers, operating systems, third-party suppliers and partners, cloud deployments, hardware devices, etc.
Attackers are well organized, conducting targeted recon, constantly looking for vulnerabilities in systems, both internal and external, to exploit to gain entry and extract information.
Understanding the attack surface is key to knowing what assets need protection and how best to protect them. Unfortunately, most organizations struggle because their attack surface keeps changing.
While building out your strategy, It’s essential to outline a plan to identify and monitor your attack surface, whether using attack surface management tools, platforms, or resources. Seeing what an attacker sees and understanding your most vulnerable areas will go a long way in ensuring you can adequately defend your attack surface.
Understanding Your Threat Landscape
It’s been said multiple times, but there’s no denying the role digital transformation has played in the evolution of the modern cyber threat landscape. The pandemic made working from home necessary. And as executives began to realize employees can be just as if not more productive at home, remote work has remained.
Security teams are facing new challenges related to implementing emerging technologies. They must meet the increasing demands of IT infrastructure virtualization and automation, data storage, and management, data privacy and protection, etc.
But just as organizations learned to deal with digital transformation, threat actors also learned to leverage the digital transformation era to achieve attack precision and scalability.
Our Cybersecurity Insights report found that most businesses (87%) have fallen victim to successful cyberattacks in the past three years that resulted in damage, disruption, or a breach to their businesses. Despite their efforts, around two-thirds (67%) say more successful cyberattacks have impacted their organization since the start of the pandemic.
Maintaining a pulse on new and emerging global cybersecurity threats was the number one challenge cited by Enterprise Security Decision Makers and is the reason threat intelligence needs to be at the foundation of any security program.
Threat intelligence enhances detection capabilities and informs security professionals of potential cyber risks with real-time information to help them better understand:
- Who are my adversaries, and how could they attack me?
- What are the attack vectors that affect the security of my business?
- What should my security teams be looking out for?
- How can I reduce my company’s risk of a cyber attack?
Understanding your company’s security posture relative to the changing threat landscape is essential. Implementing an effective threat intelligence management solution can help your security team stay on top of your relevant landscape.
Breaking Down Silos
Now more than ever, global organizations must balance a rapidly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape against business requirements. Organizations need to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity that helps break down barriers and open communications across their entire organization to help them identify and address cyber risks before they become an issue.
Cyber fusion is becoming increasingly popular in the cybersecurity industry, with organizations creating cyber fusion centers or using technologies like threat intelligence management or XDR (extended detection and response) solutions to eliminate silos, enhance threat visibility, and increase cyber resilience and collaboration between security teams.
A cyber fusion approach helps foster collaboration among different departments within the company to focus on areas that ensure protection against relevant threats.
By getting more people involved in keeping up with security issues and cyber incidents, organizations can ensure their investments and resources focus right where they need to be.
Investing in the Right Tools
Security teams need to ensure they have the right tech stack for their environment to manage risk effectively. Unfortunately, when adding tools, too many organizations look for a quick fix, working in silos to solve one problem rather than taking a holistic approach to evolving their cybersecurity strategy.
Gartner found that security and risk management leaders purchased tools based on short-term needs or as rushed, reactive responses and offered these recommendations:
- Prepare the SOC team and relevant stakeholders for a process-driven evaluation with a “premortem” analysis to reduce the chance of failed projects.
- Align the tool selection process according to the SOC's target operating model and goals, avoiding premature investments.
- Make technology investments that will provide the best results against new threat vectors, address the biggest blind spots, and enhance areas of the SOC with operational challenges.
- Be flexible in case of organizational and business changes. New workflows and tools to support changes to processes and capabilities might be required.
Deciding when to invest in tools, and selecting the right ones, for the SOC is challenging for many organizations. It’s essential to understand your current attack surface to address any holes. Where are the gaps in your existing tech stack? What tools will help your organization enhance its defenses and reduce overall risk for your company?
Mapping out your high-level requirements to meet your identified problem or any specific needs or use cases of the organization and security team will go a long way in picking the right tools for your organization.
Investing In Your Security Team
Security tools are a requirement and serve multiple purposes to do many good things for organizations. They help prevent threats, detect security issues, and help remediate attacks.
They don’t replace people. People are the heart of any security organization. Skilled analysts are needed to analyze the collected data, identify trends, and suggest solutions. They’re the ones to analyze the data and ask the questions that can help get to the root of the problem. Am I affected? Why did this happen? What do I need to do now? And then take the action necessary based on their insights.
As mentioned above, the cybersecurity skills gap is not going away. As the number of suitable candidates shrinks, the competition for their services will be fierce.
Invest in current employees, whether they are already a part of the security team or are showing an interest in security. Employees already familiar with your company’s infrastructure, threat landscape, and business model can be perfect candidates to step into a security function. This could mean developers or IT staff, for example. You could also invest in an intern program to try to attract talent and invest in their education.
If you don’t invest in your company’s cybersecurity team, you risk losing them to better opportunities elsewhere. As they leave, a lack of knowledge sharing between different groups within a SOC and broader security organization can create significant problems. Ultimately, these can lead to wasted resources and high mean time to detect or respond.
The bottom line is that security operations are more complex today than ever. And it’s only going to get more challenging. With the right combination of strategies, tools, and personnel, organizations can ensure they are well equipt to meet those challenges head-on.
Download this ESG report to learn how XDR is helping security teams overcome these challenges.