New security threats emerge almost continuously, meaning we now deal with a known unknown. In the past year alone, malware and ransomware use has sharply increased, 43% of total breaches focused on web applications, and the trend of new vulnerabilities in hardware has continued to accelerate.
This ever-increasing threat landscape has become a massive headache for CISOs. They need to protect critical infrastructure against evolving threats, but they don’t know exactly how these will manifest or what tools they may need. And while the need to protect the business against heightened risks has traditionally been an urgent matter, the sheer number of new threats means more time is being spent on immediately patching any issues, and day-to-day security tasks are often pushed aside.
A recent study by PagerDuty found that 64% of IT professionals spent more than 100 hours per year on unplanned work, such as having to respond to incidents immediately after they arise.
By continuously adapting to try and combat what’s round the corner, organizations are putting themselves at a disadvantage by focusing on the short-term instead of the bigger picture. In this world of constant change, long-term security investment offers an alternative, reliable route.
Options like Extended Security Maintenance (ESM) help to reduce operational risk by ensuring that business applications are continually up-to-date, and CPU and hardware vulnerabilities are mitigated, shifting this responsibility from business to vendor.
Decreasing investments = increasing problems
Security will always be disadvantaged when coming up against threats, because there are too many for organizations to combat. The key is to find a balance that makes sense for the business and allows them to manage their risks and comply with their industry baseline. Reducing unplanned work caused by security breaches and fire drills means they can focus on core business tasks and maintain productivity.
Organizations that adopt a short-term approach, reacting to security threats as and when they come through, risk not only a productivity drop for some time, but bad publicity at the very least. If labelled as a bad actor, new deals could be lost for quite some time. In a worst-case scenario, a breach or incident could occur. This could then force them to quickly switch their approaches, even to the extent of changing leadership. For some time after, resources would need to be spent to correct public image and internal processes. Cutting corners will backfire, and many high-profile breaches offer examples of this.
Essentially, dialing back on security investment leads to three things. Firstly, you will fall behind competitors and will stand out negatively should a breach occur. Second, your IT personnel will spend unplanned time not only fixing the breach or incident, but also justifying the situation to customers instead of focusing on the business’ goals. Finally, the security and safety of your data will not be under your control.
Ultimately, success means having as few distractions to the business as possible. This also equates to lower cost. A strong organization will focus on security continuously rather than spend a large percentage of their resources on reactive approaches and maintain business as usual no matter what challenges arise.
Looking to the long-term
Understanding the importance of long-term security investment is one thing. Putting this into practice presents a new challenge entirely. Organizations can look to assign this task internally, but ultimately, IT personnel need to focus on business goals.
At the same time, it is not always reasonable to expect an IT department to keep up with developments on topics ranging from software security to cryptography to hardware architecture. By relying on vendors for security agility, organizations can outsource the technologies required for long-term protection.
Enterprise service management (ESM) is one such option that looks to ensure organizations are protected for a matter of years. As digital transformation accelerates, new technologies that enable the business tend to go out of date entirely too soon after deploying. Investing and enhancing the IT department to tackle the challenge can be one way forward, but ultimately businesses need their employees to focus on their own expertise. ESM enables the adoption of new technologies whilst allowing for organizations to move at their own pace.
As the threat landscape continually changes, ESM continually rolls out critical security updates for high and critical common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) in the IT environment, preventing issues from occurring in the first place instead of patching them on a reactive basis. With the security remit falling to the ESM provider, CISOs have more time to plan what comes next and build a more sustainable infrastructure.
These upgrades can be planned in line with business needs, such as scheduling within low-impact maintenance windows to reduce downtime. With downtime costs increasing year on year, and with every organization having specific requirements, dependencies and timeframes, this planning is critical when mapping out upgrades and migration.
Innovation, innovation, innovation
After more than a year of disruption and interruptions, 2021 is the year for organizations to reinvigorate innovation. With ESM removing the worries of continually patching infrastructure and undergoing new updates, IT teams can begin making up for lost time and once again start designing and building new solutions.
Security will always be of the utmost importance and reacting to threats to protect the business will undoubtedly come as a priority when required. But with the ability to leave this responsibility with ESM, organizations can shift the focus back to creating the innovations of tomorrow. Moving forward from a year of turbulence, businesses will begin to realize that security doesn’t always require immediacy, and that adopting long-term approaches are the best defense.