Enhancing team harmony: Three strategies for integrating network and security solutions

IT professionals

In the fast-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, organizations face the challenge of maintaining operational efficiency while ensuring the security of network devices and firewalls. The increasing complexity, with factors such as cloud services, IoT devices, remote work, and legacy assets, has led to a growing list of potentially vulnerable devices. To address these issues, The Center for Internet Security (CIS) emphasizes the importance of inventory and control of enterprise and software assets.

Effective communication and coordination with the security team is often hindered by existing silos between IT and network teams, specifically network ops, network infrastructure, and network security. The lack of collaboration between teams can result in costly misfires, exposing organizations to cybersecurity threats.

To navigate this challenge, here are three tips to foster a more synchronized relationship between infrastructure and security teams:

Establish Common Ground
In many organizations, the security and network teams operate in isolation and communicate in different terms. While the security team discusses vulnerabilities, the network team concentrates on mitigation and configuration.

Consider vulnerability scans. When the security team conducts routine vulnerability scans, they usually forward an extensive list to the network and IT teams for remediation. However, without the security team furnishing sufficient threat and business context, the network and IT teams frequently resort to their own patching methodologies instead of prioritizing based on the business's risk factors.

Conversely, when the network team is tasked with reconfiguring firewall rules or network access, they may lack awareness of the potential cyber exposure these alterations introduce. Their focus is primarily on meeting the requirements from a network operation perspective or addressing compliance implications if they lag. Unfortunately, they lack visibility into the security risks that may arise when implementing these changes.

Therefore, it is essential for teams to convene and reach a consensus on prioritizing context and data over technology alone to establish common ground. Whether it involves the security team providing insights on prioritizing vulnerability remediations or the network team scrutinizing network changes for potential cyber exposure risks, this approach ensures the active involvement of both teams. It facilitates a better understanding of each team's priorities, challenges, and concerns. Fostering this open communication, akin to a common language, enables the two teams to collaborate effectively in safeguarding the organization.

Establish Shared Objectives

After teams consistently convene and engage in open communication, it presents an opportune moment to delineate and formally document shared goals and priorities. This entails determining the data sources to be utilized for assessing context and risk and devising strategies to mitigate risks during patch lags—the intervals between each scheduled patching window. The network team, in particular, can often identify alternative compensating controls, such as network segmentation or the addition of IPS/IDS signatures, significantly reducing business risk until permanent remediation is achieved. Embracing alternatives during these intervals proves beneficial for both teams.

Organizations also should foster robust relationships among the executive teams overseeing these groups, typically the CISO and CIO, to enhance operational alignment. Strategies and goals should be crafted with input from both teams, creating a shared vision for the company. Once articulated and documented, both teams become fully committed to the process, collaborating to enhance organizational security. Alignment among the executives heading the silos is crucial for bolstering security measures and propelling the business forward with minimal risk of disruption.

Implement Information Sharing Solutions

Many organizations grapple with an overwhelming influx of security and vulnerability data directed at their network and security teams. Identifying hundreds of thousands of security vulnerabilities, often with high or critical severity, poses a challenge, leaving teams feeling inundated and needing more precise guidance to focus on the most significant risks. Organizations commonly resort to acquiring diverse point solutions to address this issue and enhance team focus. However, stacking multiple solutions often leads to conflicting recommendations and increased noise.

The solution is finding a unified platform that serves as a shared security data repository for all relevant teams. This simplifies workflows and establishes a single source of truth, allowing for budget consolidation. A unified solution with multi-source aggregation ensures seamless communication between systems, enabling the prioritization of vulnerabilities using the best data from each platform. This solution should also provide insights into the security risk associated with each recommended patch and offer alternative mitigation and remediation options. Such an approach enables the network team to be mindful of the security implications of changes, factoring in potential risks while empowering the security team to mitigate risks effectively during extended patching periods.

Ultimately, it is crucial to recognize that cybersecurity is a collective responsibility within the organization. The pivotal roles played by the network and security teams lay the foundation for the entire company. Collaborating as a unified defense against cyber criminals makes their tasks more manageable and contributes to enhancing the company's overall security.

Image credit: vasylchipiha.gmail.com/ depositphotos

Alastair Williams is Vice President, Worldwide Sales Engineering at Skybox Security.

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