By Haider Pasha, Sr. Director and Chief Security Officer for Emerging Markets at Palo Alto Networks
Cybersecurity has long been one of the most complex landscapes an organization must navigate; with each new threat or vulnerability, complexity continues to grow. This is especially true for organizations that have traditionally taken a point product approach to their security because implementing new security measures properly and reliably takes time and expertise. Today, as more businesses look to digitize their services, dealing with these cybersecurity challenges is no longer optional.
Every new tool must be installed, tested, and validated, and then people must be trained to leverage them well. On average, organizations are adopting dozens of different products, services, and tools for their cybersecurity. So, finding ways to make implementing cybersecurity smoother, faster, and more efficient has become a key goal for cybersecurity professionals. As businesses plan for a post-pandemic and digitally accelerated era, many CISOs across multiple industries strive for simplicity and focus on reducing their security vendor blueprint as part of their annual KPIs. Implementation, in particular, has always been an important consideration for successful cybersecurity programs because of the time, expense, personnel, and expertise often required not only to implement individual point products but to stitch them together in order to avoid security gaps while also eliminating redundancies. In the event of a serious incident, security operations center (SOC) analysts typically confess to switching between multiple vendor consoles and event types in order to decipher alerts. Organizations and teams need a better approach, so they’re not either continually exposed or overworked from the alerts created by overlap.
Implementation Benefits of Cybersecurity Platforms
Research conducted by Palo Alto Networks with a wide range of its customers, supplemented by additional first-person, one-on-one interviews, highlighted a range of implementation benefits that result from taking a platform approach to cybersecurity architecture. By definition, a platform is the culmination of integrated points, such as integrated threat intelligence using automation and orchestration across a variety of security tools to take action against incidents in real time and as one system. This approach helps ease the procurement, management, and operations of the cybersecurity stack while reducing cyber risk. Deploying multiple products from different vendors typically requires a level of expertise beyond the capabilities of many in-house teams. Rather than “buying” implementation resources from consultants or cybersecurity services companies, organizations are looking for a more integrated approach to solutions implementation. Platforms, such as those provided by Palo Alto Networks, smooth and facilitate implementation while reducing the risk often associated with integrating different products in a seamless manner
Identifying the Top Areas of Value
Respondents surveyed on the implementation benefits pinpointed five specific areas where a platform approach delivers tangible value:
Reducing solutions complexity and the number of integration points
Decreasing deployment time
Cutting the risk of time and budget overruns
Trimming deployment effort and personnel “touches”
Reducing the amount of practitioner and user training
On average, respondents said that our platforms helped them reduce solution complexity and the number of integration points by 29%, while each of the other four benefits resulted in savings of approximately 23.3%. As organizations evolve their cloud infrastructure, for example, taking a platform approach helps reduce the number of vendors required to secure multiple instances on the cloud, such as containers, serverless systems, and traditional virtual machines. By binding the cloud security tools under one management system, the complexity of deployment as well as the procurement process means that customers are able to scale their cloud infrastructure much faster than before.
This generally translates to cost savings in the form of faster security policy updates, incident management lifecycles, and reduction of alerts. In fact, according to calculations made by Palo Alto Networks related to customers’ actual implementation costs, a typical organization can achieve an annual economic benefit of more than $500,000 by utilizing a cybersecurity platform model for solutions implementation. In customer interviews, those operational and financial benefits of implementation were brought into greater focus.
“Earlier on, we had at least four to six different integration points just for firewalls and endpoint security before we went with Palo Alto,” said one customer. Using Palo Alto Networks platforms, customers are able to standardize and unify security policies and reduce their risk exposure due to the likelihood of reduced human errors.
As a platform-based approach encourages an open consortium of cybersecurity vendors, customers see the value of this ecosystem: “Having one ecosystem really does get a lot of efficiencies with integrations being so seamless.” Yet another client put it succinctly: “People already know how to do troubleshooting.”
Another tangential yet very important implementation benefit to platforms is the ability to overcome the much-discussed cybersecurity skills gap. By consolidating all cybersecurity tools under the same architecture with easy integration and common connectors, organizations alleviate the need for armies of technical staff—each with different certifications and experiences—to integrate new tools as the need occurs.
As organizations look for comprehensive solutions and services to secure the network, cloud, and endpoint and optimize their SOC, our Palo Alto Networks portfolio of platforms allows them best-in-class capabilities along with leading third-party evaluations and efficacy tests, and together, deliver coordinated security enforcement across our customers.
Haider Pasha is Sr. Director and Chief Security Officer for Emerging Markets at Palo Alto Networks. Over the course of his 20 year IT career, Mr. Pasha has held various certifications, including CCNP, CCSP, CISSP, CCIE (Security) and CEH.