Tool sprawl is a common predicament for IT organizations. It usually starts innocently enough. For example, I’ll bet you carefully selected a combination of best-of-breed point solutions to meet your security needs. Then, when the latest data breach was announced, you rushed to implement the latest tool to safeguard against the threat. And what about the new board member’s recommendation of a state-of-the-art AI security tool? Looks like that’s now a must-have for your security lineup.
Next thing you know, your team is managing 20, 30, even 60 individual security tools. Ponemon Institute research found that 30% of organizations currently use more than 50 unique cybersecurity products.
Those individual tools are a problem:
- They’re expensive to deploy, learn and upgrade.
- They often can’t accommodate changes over time, so they have short shelf lives.
- Each tool provides different visibility based on different data.
- Each tool sends its own notifications and alerts – often duplicating alerts and false positives making prioritization and investigation difficult.
- Integration usually requires duct tape, elbow grease, and lots of wishful thinking.
Security tool sprawl reduces operational efficiency and increases costs. In an environment of persistent and increasing skills shortages (ESG research found that 51% of organizations have a problematic shortage of cybersecurity staff and skills), there simply aren’t enough people to care for and feed all these unnecessary security tools.
Homing in on the security threat
The security risk of tool sprawl lies primarily in the lack of control, visibility, and coordination across multiple tools within your organization’s infrastructure. Here are seven specific security risks associated with tool sprawl:
- Increased attack surface: Each additional tool increases the overall attack surface and introduces new potential vulnerabilities and attack vectors. If these tools are not properly secured, patched, or monitored, they can become entry points for malicious actors.
- Inadequate or inconsistent security controls: With numerous tools in use, it can be challenging to maintain consistent security controls and configurations across the entire environment. This can lead to gaps in security practices, leaving systems and data exposed.
- Complexity and misconfiguration: Managing multiple tools often leads to complexity, which can result in misconfigurations or security settings being overlooked. Misconfigurations can introduce security weaknesses that can be exploited by attackers.
- Lack of centralized monitoring and visibility: Tool sprawl can make it difficult to consolidate security monitoring and gain a holistic view of your organization’s security posture. Without centralized visibility, security events and threats may go unnoticed or be harder to detect and respond to promptly.
- Integration challenges: Different tools may not seamlessly integrate with each other, making it difficult to establish effective workflows and information sharing between systems. This can hinder incident response, threat intelligence sharing, and overall security operations.
- Skill and resource gaps: Each additional tool requires expertise and resources to manage and maintain effectively. If an organization lacks the necessary skills or resources to handle all the different tools, security gaps may emerge due to insufficient training or oversight.
- Compliance and regulatory risks: Tool sprawl can complicate compliance efforts, making it harder to demonstrate adherence to industry standards and regulatory requirements. Failure to properly manage and secure tools may result in compliance violations and potential legal consequences.
To mitigate these risks, organizations should strive for a well-defined and streamlined toolset, consolidating where possible, and ensuring proper security practices are implemented consistently across the environment. Regular security assessments, vulnerability management, and monitoring are crucial to maintaining a robust security posture and reducing the potential risks associated with tool sprawl.
Curbing the shopping spree
So, how can your IT operations and security team tame tool sprawl, while reducing costs and securing your organization against cyber threats?
One approach is to deploy a single, unified platform that handles multiple functions. This streamlines operations and improves security. A unified platform can also cut the cost of running, managing, and maintaining multiple security tools, while:
- Improving your ability to cost-effectively meet tightening global regulatory and compliance mandates.
- Addressing the pressure to make the right bets strategically when it comes to tooling and security practices.
- Deploying patches automatically with greater efficiency.
- Reducing the attack surface in the face of trends such as a growing remote workforce.
- Meeting cyber-insurance carriers’ stricter mean-time-to-patch and mean-time-to-repair standards.
- Consolidating tools without compromising security.
- Simplifying the discovery, management, and protection of all assets within the IT estate.
With a unified security operations platform, CISOs, CIOs and CTOs can:
- Monitor and optimize software needs to reduce unnecessary spending.
- Eliminate legacy solutions and reduce unnecessary point tools and the infrastructure required to support them.
- Unify endpoint management and security onto a single console.
- Rally your IT teams around instant, accurate, and actionable data to maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
- Proactively monitor and resolve end-user performance issues to lessen the burden on IT support resources.
- Reduce mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) and the number of tickets to improve workplace productivity and reduce support costs.
- Improve IT decision-making around critical software change initiatives.
- Smartly manage hardware lifecycles using historical data to assess the need for hardware refreshes.
A converged platform that provides visibility, control and trustworthy data to IT teams is not going out of style. Tool sprawl was once a logical way to fill capability gaps but it’s now driving higher costs and creating additional security vulnerabilities. To learn more about curbing tool sprawl, read our newest ebook, “Tools designed for security could be your biggest cybersecurity threat.”
Are your organization’s legacy cybersecurity tools working against you? Analyze the effectiveness of your tech investments with a Tanium ROI report.