Why Companies Are Consolidating Their Security Tools

To keep up with a complex cyber threat landscape, companies often adopt new tools designed to combat these specific threats, accumulating disparate tools over time. But problems emerge when having excessive tools because they can create overly complex security environments and inefficiencies. This article overviews some reasons for a notable uptick in security tool consolidation among businesses of all sizes.

Tool Sprawl in Cybersecurity

Tool sprawl refers to the use of a variety of security tools that often have overlapping functions. Many companies end up facing tool sprawl issues not just due to an ever-changing, complex threat landscape that calls for new solutions, but also because of the following reasons:

  • Disruptive technological changes, like rapid improvements in generative AI, lead to new vulnerabilities that require new solutions to address them.
  • Increased compliance demands see businesses in specific industries subject to strict regulatory requirements that may necessitate the use of specific tools or types of tools, which just add to an organization’s existing stack of cybersecurity tools.
  • Organizational silos might result in different departments within a company independently choosing and deploying security tools that best meet their specific needs.
  • Pressure from government advisories highlighting best practice security or effective marketing by security vendors may result in adopting tools that feel essential but aren’t actually needed to address specific risks that companies face.

In one recent survey, 43 percent of respondents replied that their number one challenge in threat detection and remediation is an overabundance of tools. This figure explains why a different survey of SMBs using managed security service providers (MSSPs) found that 86 percent of those companies want to reduce their current portfolio of security tools through consolidation.

While tool sprawl can provide a wide array of security capabilities to businesses, it also creates security management difficulties, increased costs and potential security gaps if the tools are not integrated or used properly.

The Arguments for Security Tool Consolidation

Security tool consolidation involves reducing the number of security tools and unifying security capabilities into integrated systems. The objective here is a more optimized tech stack. Here’s why you might consider consolidating the security tools you use:

  • Cost Reduction: Operating a lengthy lineup of security tools is expensive; licensing, training, maintenance and support costs can easily get out of control. Consolidation helps reduce these costs and provides better budgeting predictability, especially during economic uncertainty.
  • Increased Speed of Threat Detection and Response: Integrated security tools often improve the speed and accuracy of threat detection and response by reducing the time needed to correlate data across disparate systems.
  • Greater Automation: With talent shortages and menial processes plaguing security teams, tool consolidation can provide greater automation. In particular, integrated security capabilities can streamline workflows by performing routine tasks without human intervention, correlate data to automatically detect threats, respond to them in real-time, and help enforce security policies consistently.
  • Improved Vendor Management: Dealing with multiple vendors can be challenging and time-consuming. Consolidation often means fewer vendor relationships to manage, although it’s worth noting that tool consolidation is not the same as vendor consolidation.
  • Reduced Complexity: Each security tool in your environment adds a layer of complexity. By reducing the number of tools, you can streamline your security processes for better efficiency and reduce the potential for errors or misconfigurations.

While there are several advantages to consolidating security tools that explain why it’s currently such a hot topic given security budgetary constraints, talent shortages and continued high-profile breaches, there are also challenges and potential downsides worth bearing in mind:

Vendor Lock-in: Consolidating security tools can lead to a situation where you become overly reliant on one vendor for many essential security capabilities. This vendor lock-in makes it difficult to switch vendors in the future.

Single Point of Failure: With tool consolidation, an integrated solution may become a single point of failure. If the consolidated tool fails or is compromised, it could potentially bring down the majority or entirety of security defenses.

Integration Issues: Combining several security functions into a single platform can sometimes lead to integration issues, particularly when incorporating legacy systems or when the consolidated tool doesn’t fully support certain infrastructure components, like IoT. Then you have the difficulties associated with lengthy vendor contracts to add to the equation.

Transition Challenges: The process of migrating from multiple tools to a consolidated toolset can be complex and disruptive. A difficult transition period may require extensive retraining for staff and could temporarily reduce security effectiveness.

Simplifying Security Operations with Managed Security Services

Security tool consolidation hints at an overarching desire for companies to simplify their security operations. More tools do not necessarily guarantee better protection.

A complementary strategy for simplifying security operations is to use managed security service providers to whom you outsource monitoring and management of different security functions. Here’s how you get that security simplification from MSSPs:

  • Expertise and Experience: MSSPs have deep expertise and experience in handling a wide range of security threats. You can leverage this expertise without needing to develop it in-house or expend resources trying to recruit in a challenging labor market.
  • 24/7 Monitoring: Leading MSSPs offer round-the-clock 24/7/365 security monitoring. This means you get always-on threat detection and response that reduces the chances of a successful cyberattack.
  • Access to Advanced Technologies: MSSPs often have access to the latest cybersecurity technologies and tools. You can benefit from these technologies without having to invest in them directly and add to your tool sprawl.

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