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Why Data Integration Is the Oxygen of Modern Cybersecurity  

Nov 4, 2021
Monica White
VP of Product Marketing

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Security’s relationship with data? Let’s just say, it’s complicated. 

The average enterprise maintains 45 different security tools. Not surprising: Powerful tools and services abound for securing various aspects of your IT infrastructure. Each has a job to do, and in doing that job, each tool generates a trove of data—asset inventories, vulnerability scan results, threat, and vulnerability intelligence, etc. 

Remediation teams need all of this data to identify and prioritize the thousands, even millions of vulnerabilities within their environment. But this means that teams are too often drowning in alerts. A recent survey revealed some troubling trends among Security workers. When asked about the volume of security data they have to manage, 51% feel their team is overwhelmed and 55% said they lack confidence in their ability to make enough sense of the data to effectively prioritize and take action. Even more worrisome, 70% reported the stress of managing this data is negatively impacting their personal lives and emotional well being. 

Fortunately, powerful advancements in data integration and data science can help cybersecurity teams harness the value of their data and find the needle (or needles) within their haystack.

Overcoming the overload

Data is both an advantage and an obstacle for modern enterprise security. The more data you generate, the more confident you can be in the conclusions you draw from that data. But more data puts you at risk of overload. To minimize data overload and maximize accurate, meaningful conclusions that matter most to your organization, you need a few very key ingredients: 

  • Unfettered access to the data you need;
  • Core security solutions that ingest and analyze large volumes of data from virtually any source; and
  • Advanced data science powered by AI, ML and predictive algorithms to surface specific insights you can act on. 

These ingredients unlock the actionable context around your vulnerability data. For example, it’s one thing to observe a vulnerability in your environment and see it’s been exploited in the wild. These are two very important data points, but they only tell part of the story. You’ll need additional information to determine whether that vulnerability is likely to be exploited in your environment. 

Some exploits, for instance, target certain types of organizations or industries, and if you’re not in that targeted group, you probably face less of a risk than enterprises that are. Other vulnerabilities could be hiding in assets highly valuable to your organization. Even yet, certain exploits could be making headlines but aren’t being as heavily targeted on certain assets. And some vulnerable assets may not be customer facing or business critical, in which case they won’t rise to the top of your fix list.

Enhanced data integration coupled with predictive analytics helps teams extrapolate richer context from their seemingly endless security data and develop a comprehensive game plan.

Data context breeds data confidence

Context is where data confidence comes into play. Without comprehensive, real-world intel, teams can lack confidence in the data that informs their decision making, ultimately hampering strategic maneuvers such as deciding what to automate, how to optimize finite resources, and when to remediate a risk (and when not to).

Ed Bellis, CTO and Co-founder of Kenna Security (now part of Cisco), recently explained the criticality of data confidence and why teams should put a stronger focus on enhancing context around their security data. “With more comprehensive data from across your email, endpoints, servers, cloud workloads, and networks, you can create higher fidelity and accuracy that breeds confidence. Coupling that data with a risk-based approach to prioritization can help triage events and lighten the load on overworked security teams.”

Increasing data context has a beneficial trickle-down effect: increased data context increases data confidence which improves a team’s ability to make better decisions faster. Fewer expended resources, simplified security operations, and lower cyber risk—everybody wins. 

Achieving simple and effective cybersecurity for all

The final phase of this data integration chain reaction culminates in simplified security operations. Streamlined security empowers users to easily access the data they need when they need it, understand at a glance the health and security of their environment, and glean clear and actionable next steps.

What does this look like in real life? Risk scores offer a great example.

A risk score measures the severity of any given vulnerability but takes it a step further by integrating context into the results, helping teams gauge the relative risk that vulnerability poses to their specific environment. For a deeper dive into risk scores, check out Vulnerability Scores and Risk Scores: What You Need to Know.

So, instead of being given cryptic fix lists from Security without a sense of why those fixes are a priority or how those fixes reduce risk to the business, remediation teams now have access to risk scores to unearth their truly critical vulns and effectively track their progress in lowering risk. Risk scores can be assigned to asset groups, departments and more so organizations can track risk in the way that best makes sense for them. We’ve even seen instances where departments and remediation teams compete to see who can lower their scores the most.

Data integration is the catalyst to real risk reduction

Evolving to a simplified, risk-focused company has become absolutely necessary to navigate today’s tumultuous threat landscape.

Getting there requires an increasing reliance on rich threat and vulnerability data, the ability to harness advanced algorithms needed to anticipate what users want in any given situation, and the technology to automate tasks that present a low enough risk to your business without the need for human intervention. All of these work together to make it possible to democratize security, enabling more stakeholders to take an active role in securing the enterprise. The more people rallied around risk and taking an active role in cybersecurity, the more effective security efforts will be in the long run. 

The first step toward this more secure future begins with data integration to yield insights that can be acted on with confidence. Ready to explore what that looks like for you and your team? Start here.

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