Balance is an important concept to keep in mind for a well-designed cybersecurity program. Just as a healthy diet requires a balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, carbohydrates and other necessities, a healthy cybersecurity program requires similar equilibrium.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies across many industries and of varying size. It is amazing to see the number of companies that rely too heavily on cybersecurity products in their security programs. They are continuously searching for a silver bullet that will solve all of their problems and make their concerns disappear. While technological products are important, the reality is that a healthy cybersecurity program requires a balance of people, processes and technology to be truly effective.
Any security professional who is a technician at heart enjoys tinkering with a new, shiny toy. Even newcomers to the industry quickly see there is no shortage of new tools to test drive. By some counts there are more than 1,200 technology vendors playing in the cybersecurity market. Despite the opportunity-rich environment, security teams should be leery of chasing the latest and greatest tools until they have assessed the real need for the added capabilities.
Purchasing the latest and greatest tool — and then investing in the labor to install and configure the components — has the potential to offer unfocused help to the organization in achieving security objectives. This approach lacks the ability to capitalize on the results. In fact, a track record of not utilizing new purchases will work against security leaders because new requests will be seen as more “shelfware.” All leaders in an organization, including security leaders, have a duty to be fiscally responsible with purchases.
By balancing people, process and technology, an organization can see that that it is purchasing the right tools at the right times. People are trained on the new capabilities, and processes are established to integrate their use. The results of the new investments can be captured in key performance indicators (KPIs) to show real business value every time.
There are three other key aspects of a healthy cybersecurity program that must be balanced: risk tolerance, affordability and continuous improvement. These are the real driving forces behind a security program’s progression up the maturity scale. These facets are important because they will dictate how to focus your people, processes and technology investments.
An organization that chooses to accept greater risk of an incident is likely to invest less in its cybersecurity program. Major changes won’t come often, so a greater focus on incremental, continuous improvement is an effective means for improving a program’s maturity. Conversely, organizations with very low risk tolerance must be willing to invest more in people, processes and technology based on where they are in the program life cycle. This enables larger jumps up the maturity scale. There is less focus on incremental, continuous improvement because the security teams are pressed to reduce risk at any cost.
There is no silver bullet in the world of cybersecurity, and anyone who tries to sell you one is ignoring the complexities of modern business. A healthy cybersecurity program demands a balance among effective use of people, solid processes to utilize capabilities, and the right technologies to enable organizations to protect themselves. Failure to achieve balance will result in a program that will eventually falter. Due diligence by security leaders throughout the program life cycle will be well worth the time invested.
Amidst all the software and tech tools on the market, having a solid plan in place can help you build a more comprehensive security program that’s ready to tackle risks today and in the future.