Understanding High-Impact, Low-Code Security Automation

Top Four Causes of Unsustainable Security Operations

4 Minute Read

Here are the main SecOps challenges security teams currently struggle to overcome.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that organizations are struggling to establish and maintain superior security operations methods. In fact, 78% of security leaders lack confidence in their organization’s security posture.

So, what’s affecting the majority of organizations so much that they can’t implement effective security methods? Industry analysts point to four key challenges in the security operations center (SOC) that hinder operations and lead to lasting difficulties.

Let’s explore these four causes of unsustainable security operations further.

Unsustainable Operations: What’s Happening?

Challenges stand in the way of organizations establishing a solid cybersecurity strategy. These factors, on a macro level, lead organizations to an unsustainable security operations situation.

SOC analysts face major alert fatigue from growing attack volumes. SOC managers struggle to connect siloed tools and departments so their team can work more efficiently. CISOs and security leaders attempt to highlight the business value of security, but that’s much easier said than done.

Why do these challenges impact security operations so much? In the SOC, everything is expanding. Data breaches have increased by 11% since 2018 and 67% since 2014. The cost of a breach is higher than ever, at $4.24 million. Ransomware attacks increased by 435% from 2019 to 2020 alone. Manual security operations can’t keep up.

Let’s dive deeper into each of the causes of unsustainable security operations.

Unprecedented Volume of Attacks & Data Breaches

Throughout recent history, there has been a year-over-year increase in the number of cyberattacks affecting companies. This increase in attack volume, coupled with the numerous monitoring technologies being used to detect and identify attack and vulnerability data, can leave organizations dealing with tens of thousands of alarms each day.

Cyber attacks can take many forms, from phishing scams and ransomware attacks to more sophisticated, targeted attacks designed to steal sensitive information or disrupt critical infrastructure. The increase in frequency and impact of these attacks have led to increased spending on cybersecurity measures, but the threats continue to evolve and outpace the defenses put in place to protect against them.

Alert Fatigue & Cybersecurity Staffing Shortages

The growing number of alarms leads to what many in the industry describe as alert fatigue or the exhaustion felt by companies trying to keep up with the required response activities—including the threat intelligence made available through both commercial and open source providers. It’s no surprise that security operations teams are exhausted by the sheer volume of data being dealt with—especially if they’re relying on antiquated tools to get the job done.

The answer isn’t to hire more cybersecurity staff. Why? They aren’t out there. It’s estimated that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2025. That’s approximately the same as in 2021. The most important and difficult hurdle for organizations is a lack of qualified staff. It can be difficult to find, cultivate and retain cybersecurity staff, especially when the churn rate is abnormally high.

Disparate Technology & Siloed Teams

It might be an old ticketing system, for example, or a homegrown security solution that can no longer support your organization’s security measures or needs. Whatever the case, legacy technologies will make it difficult for organizations to manage and support the use cases they are trying to implement. In fact, only 59 percent of organizations say they are equipped with the “very up to date” security tools (down 5 percent year-over-year), according to Cisco’s findings.

When different security teams or departments operate in isolation, it can lead to a lack of coordination and an inability to effectively respond to incidents that cross organizational boundaries.

Lack of Visibility into Performance & Business Value

Security performance metrics and KPIs are key to understanding the health of the SOC. How quickly are potential threats detected? What’s the average MTTD and MTTR? False positive rates? Decision speed? Security leaders need clear visibility into incident response metrics so that it’s easier to quantify the business value of SecOps.

Limited visibility into security performance can also look like:

Lack of standardization: A lack of standard processes and protocols can result in confusion and inefficiencies, which makes it more difficult to respond to security incidents in a timely and effective manner.

Poor communication: A lack of effective communication between different parts of the organization can result in a lack of visibility into security risks and incidents. This makes it more difficult to respond in a timely and effective manner.

Ineffective incident response planning: A lack of effective incident response planning can result in slow and ineffective responses to security incidents. This can increase the negative impact of those incidents.

A lack of visibility can make it more difficult for security teams to respond to security incidents, prevent future incidents from occurring, and demonstrate the value of their work to other parts of the organization. Addressing these challenges requires investment in the right technology and tools, a commitment to standardization and effective collaboration between different parts of the organization.

Moving forward, arm your organization with sustainable operations by tackling each of these challenges head-on. Adopting a more sustainable security approach is a great way to improve the ability of your organization to handle current and future threats without sacrificing staff productivity. While there are plenty of challenges to overcome, with the right tools in place you’ll increase your organization’s security risk posture and stop more threats faster. 

gartner soc model guide

Gartner SOC Model Guide

Download the Gartner SOC Model Guide to learn: how to select the best SOC model for your organization, the key components of the Gartner SOC framework, and how to gain organizational alignment when engaging with leaders enterprise-wide. Access this Gartner SOC report, courtesy of Swimlane.


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