Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. The KonMari Method is a decluttering and organizing system that promises improvements in every aspect of your life. Marie Kondo meticulously goes through every item one by one to understand which items really “spark joy.” If something doesn’t spark joy, she recommends thanking it and letting it go.
It seems this underlying philosophy could be relevant to security. Think about this for a minute. Security organizations are grappling with anywhere from five to 50+ different security vendors. It is getting increasingly difficult to empower security teams to make decisions based on complete and actionable insights.
Imagine if we could “tidy up” security using the KonMari method.
Complexity is the worst enemy of security
Security expert Bruce Schneier summed it up best when he said, “Complexity is the worst enemy of security.” Your teams are constantly undertaking ambitious projects to take the next exponential leap. And they have continued to onboard products from best-of-breed vendors to meet their evolving security needs. We have fallen into the trap of bolting on more and more security technologies. Over 30% of survey respondents in ESG’s 2020 Integrated Platform Report stated that their organization uses more than 50 different security products, while 60% said they use more than 25. This constant onboarding of new technology has led to a massive proliferation of siloed data sets and a lack of accountability from vendors. It is becoming increasingly difficult to enable a unified front-end experience for your team to collaborate effectively, which causes gaps in your security ecosystem. We’ve increased the level of complexity to the point where your teams are spending the majority of their time finding the needle in the haystack while the legitimate threats are left unattended. The siloed technologies fail to connect the dots and improve the fidelity of your alerts.
How does one deal with the increasing noise and the cacophony of alerts?
We need a new security paradigm; one that simplifies the way you secure your business so you can confidently pursue key initiatives such as digital transformation. The bottom line is that the simpler we can make our security platforms, the more secure you will be.
According to Marisa Chancellor, senior director of the Security & Trust Organization at Cisco, “If we can reduce the vendor footprint and have a more integrated architecture, that helps us significantly. I would rather have more automation on the back-end through an integrated architecture than having to slap something on top of it and write some new scripts to bring it all together.”
Isn’t it time to rewrite the rules?
At Cisco, we’ve are doing that with SecureX, an integrated platform approach that changes the way you experience your security environment. We believe that security solutions should learn from one another and respond as a coordinated unit. And, that security should be built in versus bolted on, making it simpler and effective.
Taming the chaos
Coming back to the KonMari Method, your first step is to imagine your ideal security ecosystem. If you’re serious about tidying in a way that will change your team’s productivity, this step is critical. Visualize how your team members will collaborate with one another. Imagine how you could automate manual tasks. What will a day look like for your incident response teams? What role will analytics play in driving your decisions? These are the sorts of questions to consider before you tackle your cybersecurity tidying. Then, follow the guiding philosophy and evaluate your security choices to support your broader vision. Check out these practical recommendations from ESG analyst, Jon Oltsik, featured in the Cisco ESG Research Insights paper for CISOs:
- Commit yourself to tidying up :Assess current challenges across people, process, and technology. Leading platforms should go beyond technology alone, helping organizations increase staff productivity while streamlining operations. CISOs should look for current bottlenecks impacting areas like employee training, MTTD/MTTR, and process automation. This assessment should help produce a list of platform requirements beyond technology integration alone.
- Identify the players: Include IT and network operations in RFIs and product evaluations. Remember that security is a collective activity, dependent upon strong communications and collaboration between security and IT/network operations teams. Smart CISOs will work with IT peers to uncover current challenges and then seek solutions in RFIs, product evaluations, and testing/piloting that can be used effectively by both groups.
- Plan for the long term: Cybersecurity technology platforms will likely grow organically, integrating more product categories and capabilities over time. Therefore, platform research should go beyond what’s available today. CISOs should press vendors for a 24 to 36-month roadmap. Leading vendors should have comprehensive plans but also be willing to work with customers as new requirements arise. On the enterprise side, CISOs should create metrics so they can assess progress and create programs for continual improvement as they deploy cybersecurity technology platforms more broadly through phases.
- Ask your peers if it sparks joy: Reach out to the community. Note to CISOs: You are not alone—just about every other enterprise organization is going through a similar transition. CISOs should seek out guidance from other industry organizations of a similar size. In this way, organizations may be able to work together to press vendors on some industry-specific nuances that can be added to cybersecurity technology platforms over time.
Author: Jon Oltsik
Sparking joy with Cisco SecureX
Many of the aspects discussed above – such as automation, integration, collaboration, and a platform approach to security – are addressed by Cisco SecureX. Just as Marie Kondo advises individuals to evaluate every item and ask whether it sparks joy, organizations should reconsider their technology choices and ask whether they support an integrated, platform approach to security that will simplify and strengthen defenses. A security platform like Cisco SecureX ties together various technologies (including those from third parties) to unify visibility, enable automation, and strengthen security across network, endpoint, cloud, and applications. With Cisco SecureX, you can:
- Reduce complexity and maximize portfolio benefits by adopting an integrated platform.
- Create a foundation that allows you to meet the security needs of today and tomorrow.
- Reveal the true potential of your tools and people by redefining your security experience through collaboration.
Let the tidying up conversations begin in your organization, and may your security stack soon resemble Marie Kondo’s perfectly organized linen closet. Consider products that fit into a platform that harmonizes your security architecture and brings you unparalleled joy. If that is not the case, thank the piece of technology for everything it’s given you, and politely say goodbye.