Security Experts:

Security Posture Fatigue

As SecOps Teams Increasingly Take on Proactive Risk Reduction, Posture Fatigue Will Grow 

Security operations teams are once again feeling overwhelmed and under pressure. Although advances in cloud SIEM and the fusion of AI alerts, events, and logs has enabled SecOps teams to finally get ahead of common threats and automate much of the day-to-day repetitive investigative work, the rapidly expanding footprint of the digital enterprise has opened the door to a new headache—security posture fatigue.

Many high-performing SecOps teams will inform you that their threat hunting has evolved from searching for a needle in a haystack to managing haystacks of needles. Consequently, the desire to add yet another threat detection tool to an environment that generates yet another alert that needs to be investigated and actioned isn’t high on their product purchase wish list. Organizations are driving hard to consolidate threat detection and protection capabilities by reducing the number of vendors and products and pursuing integrated suite solutions where they can—reducing overall alert noise and triage time.

Although threat detection and response are being tamed, SecOps teams continue to battle enterprise sprawl. Business units and departments are adding new workloads in an increasingly diverse range of environments—public cloud, private cloud, corporate WAN, third-party SaaS platforms, manufacturing floors, CI/CD pipelines, etc.—each of which require a mix of tailored and ad hoc security configuration management, posture monitoring, and policy configuration. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for SecOps teams and CISO organizations to answer basic questions such as “where are all my assets?” “are we compliant?” and “are we vulnerable to last week’s headline attack?”

To tackle this problem, security policy compliance and posture management is increasingly becoming a centralized function. 

Each environment an enterprise operates and does business in requires tooling for security posture management and risk reduction, and for the past decade, the number of tools that can provide posture metadata, risk assessments, and security policy lapses has grown.

The broad mix of work environments, a wide variety of security posture management products (some of which are decades old), and fragmented tool capabilities has not only resulted in an inundation of security posture alerts but added new dimensions and complexity to risk-reduction orchestration and policy enforcement—causing posture fatigue as SecOps teams are overwhelmed with new and disparate datasets.

More modern work environments have proved to have more capable tools for security configuration management and remedy orchestration. For example, Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) has become the poster child for what is possible when managing modern enterprise production environments—and showcases what is technically possible in day-to-day security posture and risk management.

There is increased pressure on vendors to modernize many of the products used in older (but still critical) enterprise environments. Integrated Risk Management (IRM), Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), Vulnerability Assessment Management (VAM), Security Configuration Management (SCM), Application Performance Management (APM), etc., are product categories ripe for consolidation across workload environments as the requirement to “sort the wheat from the chaff” of posture lapses grows.

There is a lot to be learned from how CSPM has advanced the visibility and manageability of security posture management and business risk reduction of enterprise workloads within public cloud environments. The challenge ahead is to gain similar capabilities across the full estate of enterprise operating environments.

As SecOps teams increasingly take on proactive risk reduction, their vocabulary expands from security threats to include posture lapses, and posture fatigue will grow. 

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Gunter Ollmann is currently the CSO of Microsoft’s Cloud and AI Security division. He is a seasoned information security leader who has defined and trailblazed new security markets through his work with globally recognized companies, including Microsoft and IBM X-Force, and startups, including IOActive and Damballa. As a seasoned C-level executive and technologist, Mr. Ollmann has been instrumental in several dozen M&A deals (as acqui-hire, acquirer, consultant, or adviser) ranging from tens-of-millions to billion dollar transactions.