Security, Compliance

Increased Security Doesn’t Guarantee Better Compliance


In cybersecurity, it’s easy to assume that more security tools would equate to better protection and, subsequently, better compliance. Businesses constantly seek ways to protect their sensitive data and comply with regulatory requirements. However, adding more security tools doesn’t necessarily improve compliance. IBM Security’s 2023 Cost of Data Breach Report revealed an intriguing finding: Organizations with high-security system complexity face significantly higher data breach costs. Simply put, more security tools can increase complexity, vulnerabilities, breach costs, overwhelm resources, and more. Organizations must understand compliance’s true essence and prioritize efficiency over complexity.


What Does Compliance Truly Mean?

Compliance isn’t simply checking off a list of controls or having many security tools at one’s disposal. Instead, compliance is about ensuring your organization adheres to the requisite laws, standards, and internal policies. Moreover, it is about aligning security measures with controls and requirements. Compliance requires a thorough understanding of the risk landscape, consistent monitoring of requirements, an evaluation that controls remain effective, and a comprehensive approach considering the organization’s specific needs and challenges.


Balancing Security with Compliance

Financial, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, industrial, communications, and technology sectors bore the brunt of breach costs in recent times, amounting to 58% of the total. This indicates that regulated industries are prime targets for malicious actors.


With the intricate web of existing regulations and the continuous influx of new legislation and mandates in security and privacy, such as evolving state privacy laws, SEC’s cybersecurity incident disclosure, and the FTC Safeguard Rule, the instinctive reaction for many organizations is to integrate another tool to align with a specific control. However, this ‘tool accumulation’ mindset might lead to more harm than good.


Reflecting on the 2022 Panaseer Security Leaders Peer Report, there was a 19% surge in security tools utilized by security teams from 2019 to 2022. With the ensuing compliance procedures, reporting mandates, and the rigors of daily operations, not only are resources stretched thin, but the overlapping functionalities of these tools can create unseen vulnerabilities, leave blind spots in the security architecture, and reveal a lack of good security strategy.


Understand Your Tools Functionality

In cybersecurity, it’s all too familiar to see organizations hastily adopting solutions without truly understanding their capabilities. While working with the security departments of numerous organizations, an all-too-common scene unfolds tools that are either unconfigured, misconfigured, or underutilized. And while each tool might have been acquired with the best intentions, a lack of thorough understanding and configuration can inadvertently render them inefficient, if not vulnerable.


Moreover, organizations often need to pay more attention to the fact that many tools have functionalities catering to diverse use cases. It’s not uncommon for tools to be acquired with a singular use case in mind and then never be expanded upon. Given some of these tools’ capabilities, it’s a missed opportunity not to leverage them to their full potential. By delving deeper into these toolsets and optimizing their functionality, businesses can tap into heightened layers of protection and efficiency, making the most of their investments.


According to the 2023 IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach Report, organizations with high levels of security system complexity experienced an average cost of USD 5.28 million in data breaches. This represents an increase of 31.6% compared to organizations with low or no security system complexity, with an average cost of USD 3.84 million. These findings emphasize that more security tools can contribute to increased complexity, inflated budgets, greater risk for vulnerabilities, and subsequently higher breach costs.


Balancing Efficiency with Compliance

For businesses, the focus should be on improving efficiency. This doesn’t mean compromising security but tailoring security solutions to match the organization’s challenges and risk profile. Rather than merely fulfilling compliance control or ticking a box, security tools and strategies should seamlessly integrate with business processes, ensuring protection while promoting productivity. It is crucial that organizations strengthen their security posture and achieve compliance, but ultimately, driving business success is critical.


The Path Forward

Considering the complexities highlighted, the way forward demands a recalibration of approach. Organizations must step back and audit their security toolset, ensuring each piece contributes value and isn’t just a nod to compliance. Ditching the ‘tool accumulation’ mindset is paramount, quality over quantity. Focusing on leveraging tools to their fullest potential can bridge many existing gaps. Equally crucial is fostering an environment where compliance and security are seen as intertwined allies, not separate checkboxes. The future belongs to organizations that can deftly weave security into their operational fabric, ensuring a protective shield while advancing their business objectives.


About the Author

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Brent Neal

Brent Neal, the lead vCISO and principal advisor at Vanguard Technology Group, brings over 25 years of extensive experience in Security, IT, and GRC departments. With expertise in strategy, governance, program development, and compliance, Mr. Neal has paved the way for VTG’s comprehensive services. We specialize in providing holistic consulting, strategic planning, and tailored solutions to meet the unique security needs of various industries. Our expert guidance helps organizations establish a strong security posture, align initiatives with business objectives, and confidently navigate the evolving cybersecurity landscape.

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