Security Maturity: The Role of Technology in Cybersecurity

Zach DeMeyer
June 13, 2023

People, processes, and technology, or PPT, are the three pillars of any cybersecurity strategy. As businesses seek to improve their security maturity, they need to find ways to improve upon their PPT as well.

Technology plays an integral role in modern businesses. This is especially true as organizations continue to drive cloud adoption and embrace distributed workforces to ensure they can work from anywhere and remain successful.

Of course, this general reliance on technology also presents the threat of cyberattacks. Business technologies make up most, if not all attack vectors exploited by adversaries. To defend against said adversaries, cybersecurity experts boil programs down to PPT: people, process, and technology. Although people and process are certainly critical, the role technology plays in cybersecurity—for both attackers and defenders—is undeniable.

The role of technology in cybersecurity

Technology is the cornerstone of today’s business operations. The internet now serves the role of the corporate network, and everything relies on connectivity: endpoints, applications, and even infrastructure. The trade-off of this connectivity is that anyone can connect to a business’s network since each piece of technology expands the attack surface area. And, if the proper security and access controls aren’t in place, anyone can move laterally to access anything that connects to it.

Due to this, organizations need to invest in the right technologies to defend all aspects of their business. Cybersecurity technologies automate tasks like threat detection, log management, network access management, and more. Armed with these tools, organizations can establish processes and controls to detect, prevent, and respond to adversaries.

An effective technology stack must be centered around a framework like NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework, zero trust security, or defense-in-depth model. Without this anchor, today’s businesses are soft targets for attackers. Sophisticated or otherwise, adversaries have access to nation-state-grade attack technology that they can use to exploit businesses of any size. Ransomware, malware, and even in-memory and living off the land (LoL) scripts can be easily purchased on the dark web and used to achieve nefarious purposes.

Maturing the cybersecurity tech stack

Thankfully, although attacker technology is as advanced as ever, so is defender technology. Even businesses with immature security programs still likely have firewalls and basic anti-virus in place. These certainly help from a cybersecurity perspective, but against more advanced and persistent threats, more is required.

Evolutions in cybersecurity technology have created massive opportunities for businesses to improve their solution stack and keep attackers at bay. With advances in ML (machine learning)-driven software, organizations can actively detect and prevent intrusions to their network in real-time. Here are some of the most impactful cybersecurity technologies businesses can implement to mature their security stack:

  • Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV) and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): These solutions collect and interpret data at end-user workstations and other endpoints to identify and prevent threats like ransomware, malware, and in-memory attacks. One of the premier uses of ML, NGAV technology can even stop attacks as they happen. Not only does this keep the organization safe, but it usually has little to no effect on the end user, maintaining their productivity.
  • Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): SASE solutions enable organizations to leverage and control access to global cloud networks, ensuring end users can securely connect to their resources from anywhere in the world. The best SASE solutions include cloud firewalls, DNS management, web proxy and content filtering, and more. This secure connection also establishes access controls to network resources, allowing admins to enforce zero-trust network security. They also monitor network activity, informing IT teams of anomalous network behavior.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): A SIEM collects and presents data from across various other parts of the tech stack, including NGAV, EDR, and SASE. With SIEM, IT teams have full purview over the goings-on of their entire ecosystem. That way, if any unknown or anomalous behavior occurs, they know instantly and can take the requisite action to deter or remove the threat.

As technology improves, more and more capabilities are packed into these solutions, allowing businesses to cover all their bases from a single platform. Although there’s no cybersecurity silver bullet, having these and other technologies in place certainly sets organizations on the right track toward a mature security program.

Measuring the efficacy of cybersecurity technologies

Of course, simply having technologies in place doesn’t mean a business is secure from threats. Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving field, and its practitioners must constantly evaluate their approach to stay ahead of new threats. Here are a few metrics to measure your cybersecurity stack’s efficacy:

  • ROI: Simply put, cybersecurity technology will always cost an organization something, whether in upfront hardware costs, recurring SaaS usage fees, or the overhead of developing something in-house. Compared to the cost of a breach, however, much of that cost can be recouped over time. Understanding this, businesses can track their security tech stack's capital/operational expenses against the breaches they prevent or otherwise stifle. The result is the return on the overall investment, which, with an effective stack, should far outweigh the tech cost.
  • Comprehensiveness: Does your technology cover all aspects of the IT environment? Developing cybersecurity programs have solutions for endpoints, networks, infrastructure, and apps. Mature ones go deeper, protecting emails, system memory, and more. Evaluate your coverage and ensure that each potential attack vector is protected from bad actors.
  • Ease of use: Part of an effective cyber stack is your ability to use it. If you can’t implement it properly, adversaries will easily exploit the gaps you leave behind. Invest in technology that works well across your team’s expertise and skill level.
  • Mean times: A quintessential measure of security solutions, mean times are the average period between detecting, responding to, and remediating a threat. Having the best cybersecurity technology should lead to quicker detections, responses, and prevention. This metric is a bit more advanced, as it requires both intensive tracking and multiple breach attempts on an organization. Despite this, it is an excellent way to understand how well the tech stack measures up against current threats.

Achieving security maturity across PPT

Of course, technology, while critical, is only part of the full cybersecurity program. As you evaluate your tech and your approach to people and process, finding a method to measure your progress should ensure you’re on the right track.

Our Security Maturity Model eBook details how businesses stack up against NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework, bettering your understanding of cybersecurity while you move your organization up the curve. Download it here today.

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