Gavin Selkirk, President Asia, Pacific & Japan, BMC Software
With reports of large-scale hacking attacks in the past year a common news headline, 2015 did not score well when it came to cybersecurity awareness. In 2016, it is morecrucial than ever for executivesto take control of cybersecurity to protect their businesses and customers while delivering innovation.
Together with Forbes Insights, BMCreached out to executives in North America and Europe to get their perspectives on critical issuessurrounding cybersecurity threats. These threats are not geographically specific, and are also prevalent in Asia Pacific. A few notable examples from 2015 include several attacks by Anonymous, a hacktivist group, on Thai government sites, as well as a privacy breach at Kmart Australia, which exposed customers’personal information.
With cybersecurity threats on the rise, businesses should begin to build a game plan to eradicate the problems from the root. Here are three key findings from the Forbes Insights report that could serve as guidelines for this game plan.
1. Security breaches occur even when vulnerabilities and their remediation havealready been identified
On the surface, vulnerabilities may seem trivial oreasy to fix. Ideally,a business would scan for vulnerabilities, prioritize them, and then set off to fixthose with a known patch before working to address the rest.However, in order for this chain of steps to happen, there has to be a significant level of engagement and collaboration between the security and operations teams. As a result of misaligned or conflicting priorities, inability to come to a consensus between both teams may result in delayed remediation.
2. Security and operations teams have little understanding of each other’s requirements
The security team is responsible forkeeping the business secure, while the IT operations team works to keep the business up and running. After running a scan for vulnerabilities, the security team then hands off to operations to fix the problems. If the operations team are not clear which vulnerabilities have patches, the severity of the different vulnerabilities, or the impact of the patch on the production environments, they will either fail to prioritize or ignore it all together. This gap between security and operations is known as the “SecOps” gap.
3. Poor coordination puts a strain on labor costs for security and operations departments
In this context,the misalignments go deeper than just teams not meeting regularly. When the security team runs scans and produces reports,they may not be delivering information that the operations team considers actionable. The operations team then has to go through and figure out which vulnerabilities have a known patch, and also make an assessment of how severe the risk. This places a huge drain on already tight resources.
Set Your Game Plan in 2016
With security breaches not looking to decline in the short-term, it is crucial for businesses to set a game plan to address the SecOps Gap. There are three critical elements to the plan - People, Process, and Technology.
People - A strong people strategy is the heart of an effective change management initiative. Start with setting a consistent vision for the security and operations teams. The teams need to realize that they are interdependent and have shared goals with regards to the overall security of the business. These goals need to be balanced together with the needs of the business to be agile and reliable.
Process - The processes need to be reviewed in light of the shared goals and objectives. Repetitive, manual workflows should be evaluated to find out the possibilities of automation. Hand-overs within the businesses need to be tighter and provide opportunities for feedback and learning.
Technology - Technology should be deployed to facilitate the coordination and collaboration of businesses. It is vital to be precise, and ensure that the technology you choose is built to solve the root problem and not just portions of it. It must also be able to handle the demands and complexity of your business. Automation tools to institute corrective actions and a centralized view into vulnerabilities and remediation actions are key.
The bottom line is that the flood waters of security breaches will continue to rise until something significant is done. 2016 needs to be the year for action.