What is cybersecurity platform consolidation?
Cybersecurity platform consolidation is “the strategic integration of diverse security tools into a single, cohesive system.” Put simply, it is the concept of simplification through unification applied to your cybersecurity toolbox. Organizations that consolidate their cybersecurity platforms often find it fortifies their defenses against online threats and makes it easier to manage and monitor their cybersecurity efforts.
Why is this approach becoming more attractive? Cyber threats are growing more complex, sophisticated, and rampant. Adversaries are also expanding into new domains, using stolen credentials to impersonate valid users or exploiting misconfigurations in cloud workloads. If organizations use multiple, disparate cybersecurity tools to monitor this growing tapestry of domains, they can encounter overlapping functionality, the sprawling complexity of managing different tools, and higher costs — including the cost of hiring and training staff to operate these tools. On top of this, they face an increased risk of security gaps and a slower incident response time because their various tools are not integrated with one another.
By unifying your cybersecurity tools, your organization can eliminate redundancies, reduce blind spots in visibility, and centralize investigations, ultimately leading to a stronger and more efficient system of defense. In this article, we’ll guide you through five best practices for effective cybersecurity platform consolidation.
Best practice 1: Identify your security needs and goals
Your consolidation initiative should begin with a clear understanding of your organization’s security needs and goals. This means identifying what you’re trying to protect and how much protection you need.
As a first step, identify your organization’s most valuable assets and data, which could be anything from customer data to intellectual property. Where are these assets stored (in the cloud, on-premises, or on endpoints)? What types of devices are they associated with? Who has access to these assets?
Next, evaluate your existing security measures for these assets. How effective are they? What information is needed to monitor activity across these assets? Are there any known vulnerabilities? Have any previous breaches occurred, exposing system weaknesses?
With this information in hand, map out your ideal security state. What improvements or changes are necessary to result in a more robust cybersecurity posture?
By implementing this best practice, your organization will be able to plan a phased consolidation strategy that provides coverage for your organization’s critical assets and closes existing gaps in visibility or integrations.
Best practice 2: Create a comprehensive inventory of tools
Build a thorough inventory of all the cybersecurity platforms and tools that your organization currently uses. Before you can consolidate your toolbox, you need to know what’s in it.
After you have listed all the cybersecurity tools, platforms, and systems in use, evaluate each one according to the following questions:
- What is its current usage level?
- Is there any redundancy of functionality with other tools in my inventory?
- Is this up-to-date, or is it obsolete? What is the operational impact of managing and updating this tool?
Finally, look at the interconnections between your tools. In addition to understanding how these tools communicate and work together, you should document these dependencies. Doing so will help you identify any functionality overlaps and security gaps between tools. This process will also help you surface potential blind spots, such as vulnerabilities that malicious actors were able to exploit in the past.
After taking these steps, you will have a clearer picture of your cybersecurity landscape, identifying which tools are truly necessary and which you can phase out.
Best practice 3: Prioritize based on risk and impact
This best practice focuses on the impact and potential risk of compromise, helping you clarify your priorities as you consolidate your cybersecurity platforms.
Begin by determining which assets — systems, data, or otherwise — would bring the most significant harm to your organization if compromised. Some of these assets may be critical to your business operations, and others may have sensitive data that would irreparably damage your organization if compromised.
Protecting these high-value assets should be your first priority as you consolidate your cybersecurity platforms. As you ensure the security of each asset, you can move down the list to systems that pose a lesser risk. In addition to asset criticality, users can also take an approach that considers active/reactive measures of defense (such as next-generation antivirus or endpoint detection and response) and gradually incorporate more proactive measures of protection as part of a phased plan (such as vulnerability management).
The changes introduced by platform consolidation may impact your business operations. Because of this, you will need to find a balance between minimizing security risks and maintaining operational efficiency throughout this process of migration.
Best practice 4: Foster cross-team collaboration and communication
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Success in your platform consolidation effort will require input and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders. Ensure that stakeholders across your organizations — from IT professionals to upper management — are adequately informed about the consolidation process and understand their roles in it. Encourage open communication about the potential benefits and challenges of consolidation.
Stakeholder buy-in is not a given. When you encounter pushback, discuss how platform consolidation can contribute to better security outcomes and operational efficiency by minimizing cross-team operational dependencies to update or deploy new tools, for example. Promoting collaboration and communication throughout the process will ensure a smoother experience for everyone, and it will encourage buy-in.
As you plan for your consolidated platform setup, identify any staffing or operational changes that you will need to implement for continued success.
Best practice 5: Plan and execute a phased approach
Finally, take a phased approach to cybersecurity platform consolidation. If you rush your consolidation efforts, then this could lead to overlooked gaps or vulnerabilities, operational disruptions, or even team conflicts.
Outline a consolidation plan that details the process steps and timeline. Begin with the highest-priority areas, and as you make small changes, test the new consolidated system at each phase to ensure security and functionality. Once you’ve verified a successful migration, then move on to the next phase, incorporating new functionality or scaling technology to additional assets within your environment. By maintaining a controlled environment and iterating, you can manage unforeseen issues or complications.
By taking a phased approach, you keep your changes manageable and your risks to a minimum. The gradual shift also allows room for adjustments along the way.
As enterprises navigate an increasingly fragmented landscape of cybersecurity technology and increasingly cross-domain attacks, the need for cybersecurity platform consolidation is growing. A singular and unified platform can improve operational efficiency and streamline the management of security infrastructure, significantly strengthening an organization’s security posture
The best practices we’ve highlighted provide guidelines to begin planning a cybersecurity consolidation strategy. A successful execution can lead to improved visibility, more efficient operations, cost savings, and a stronger defense against cyber threats.
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