The security space has evolved in complexity and scale, especially since 2020’s forced digital transformation hit virtually every industry. Day to day tasks for IT and security teams extend beyond the scope of people and their devices. Cyber attacks are now a “when” rather than an “if,” and security operations (SOC) teams are on the front lines of their organization’s attack surface: collecting, evaluating, routing, and remediating a continuous stream of high priority risk findings that reflect all of the exploitable gaps or vulnerabilities within an organization.
These methods, although largely manual, have worked until recently; but, in a digitally transformed world, they are outdated and untenable for SOC teams to keep up with.
High vulnerability volume, low remediation velocity
Most job functions have workflow and project management tools that keep their teams running smoothly. HR teams can use Workday or Rippling. Engineering teams can use Jira and Azure Boards. Marketing teams can use Asana or Monday. But vulnerability and risk management teams are still largely using static spreadsheets and manual communications.
Today’s security practitioners can no longer fulfill their main responsibility; instead, they’re functioning as project managers that evaluate risk, route findings to developers and operations teams, call meetings and update information across teams, project management software (or spreadsheets), vulnerability scanners, and reporting tools.
While this might work to an extent, there are a few problems that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of remediation teams:
Inefficient process and scalability
Security teams that manually collect findings from an array of scanners are often leaving critical context behind and presenting remediation teams with incomplete risk data. The consequences of these inefficiencies will only magnify as the organization scales up, resources are lost, or the IT ecosystem changes.
Communication and coordination issues
Similar to a game of telephone, lapses in communication are amplified when spread across multiple stakeholders and tools. As priorities shift, it’s imperative that updates be made to all stakeholders and documentation. Manually executing this level of communication and coordination will exhaust any team over time.
Limited visibility and inefficiencies
There are an increasing number of point solutions and security vendors looking to address the volume and complexity of today’s risk and vulnerability management challenges. Multiple testing tools across multiple domains typically result in uncoordinated, conflicting, remediation requests and gaps in visibility.
Focus on findings, not on fixes
Discovering vulnerabilities is only half the battle. After ticket creation, the burden of prioritization, resolution, and communication is left to an already-overwhelmed DevOps, CloudOps, or ITOps team.
Unlimited backlog, limited resources
Because of their limited bandwidth, remediation teams often default to a first-in-first-out process where exceptions are ad-hoc and untrackable.
Vulnerability management needs to change
This complexity is never going to slow down, and the scale is never going to shrink. Yet, this new digitally transformed world requires teams to scale up their efficiency. But how? While adding another vulnerability scanner onto your existing tech stack can help you achieve a bit more visibility, simply knowing these vulnerabilities exist isn’t enough.
According to Gartner, CISOs that evolve their security assessment practices toward continuous threat exposure management (CTEM) programs will experience ⅔ fewer breaches. To achieve sustainable exposure management, organizations should be looking for a few key things:
Organizations should be looking to achieve comprehensive visibility of their assets and attack paths across cloud, code and infrastructure domains. This insight informs severity assumptions and prioritization actions.
Integrating the findings from a new security testing scanner into workflows shouldn’t require weeks to months of ramp time and tiresome work – especially when it comes to something as time-sensitive as finding attack vectors.
Whether you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of findings from one testing tool, or weaving together results from several, leveraging no-code automation accelerates today’s manual efforts to tailor definitions of severity, vulnerabilities, connect remediation owners to findings, and more.
Gaps and discrepancies between teams, tools and perceptions clouds remediation actions and outcomes. Investing in a tool that delivers quantifiable facts and clean collaboration empowers teams to work seamlessly together, and gives them direction when it comes to solving difficult problems.
Many of the solutions on the market today are focused on one or two of the areas listed above – only visibility, automation, depth of integrations, or collaboration. But without having all four, manual, case-by-case decisions still have to be made.
Introducing Remediation Operations
Imagine that one of your security testing tools found a critical vulnerability in your attack surface that requires a massive shift of focus from security, development, IT, DevOps, and DevSecOps to come up with a remediation plan. Developing this plan requires the teams to rally, and prioritize collaboration over pre-existing tension.
The entire exercise can be frustrating, chaotic, time-sensitive, and slow all at the same time. Someone on the security team will have to pull all of the details and context related to that finding from their scanner, and try to determine who on the developer and/or IT operations team has the bandwidth and the capability to fix it. From here, the scenario could go one of two ways:
Begin the remediation ticketing process:
Once the security team determines the appropriate remediation owner, they must create a ticket, include all the necessary information, and ensure that all remediation actions are executed. Once the vulnerability is addressed, the IT operations or developer team communicates the update to the security team who then validates that the remediation action was effective.
Accept the risk:
If your IT operations or developer team is unable to attend to the vulnerability, security teams are tasked with the job of evaluating the risk. There are a number of components to this evaluation, such as the magnitude of the risk and whether it is part of an attack path to or from third-party applications, the Internet, or critical infrastructure. Assuming they determine that they can accept the risk for a certain amount of time, they will eventually need to revisit it and follow the steps in part 1 above.
Although these might seem like small logistical steps, some organizations have thousands or hundreds-of-thousands of vulnerabilities. When these steps are multiplied across a massive volume of vulnerabilities, it becomes a monotonous, error prone task, and untenable for the security team’s already-limited resources.
Enter remediation operations, or RemOps, a new category of technology that transforms outputs from a wealth of security scanners, cloud misconfiguration testing tools, and other automated testing tools into actionable outcomes, so that teams can remediate smoothly and collaboratively.
A RemOps platform brings a holistic view and approach to the remediation process, eliminating guesswork and manual processes by unifying remediation teams, tools and processes in one connected, continuous flow. It brings clarity to the situation by automatically aggregating and normalizing all necessary data into a single backlog. From that centralized, de-duplicated view, teams can achieve a clear understanding of the risk at hand, prioritize accordingly, tailor their remediation workflow to the appropriate parties, and validate that the vulnerability was actually resolved – all while monitoring the efficiency of the security program overall.
Seemplicity, a RemOps platform
Introducing automation and connectivity into the remediation process revolutionizes the existing fragmented, manual process. Security teams can focus on finding vulnerabilities, remediation teams can cut down on fatigue and oversaturated backlogs, and organizations can maintain a new level of security hygiene and agility. The Seemplicity platform achieves these outcomes with six unique approaches:
Cross-domain Automated Findings Collection
Instead of navigating to siloed, environment-specific scanning tools to find and manage vulnerabilities across the attack surface, Seemplicity integrates with the scanners already testing your attack surface and centralizes findings into one consolidated, deduplicated backlog.
Seemplicity Remediation ChoiceTM Engine
Choosing what to remediate next looks different for each organization, based on critical assets, PII, attack paths, business context, and more.
Seemplicity Intelligent RemediationTM Router
The severity, priority, and remediation timeline is always prone to shifting, and manually assigning these tickets leaves room for error, lag, and oversight. Seemplicity makes remediation actionable by routing tickets to the appropriate remediation teams, in the work tools they already use, and makes adjustments when necessary to protect your organization better.
Bi-directional Multi-Fixer Queue Management
A backlog with thousands or tens-of-thousands of open issues is intimidating for anyone, so make the backlog work for your team – not the other way around. Adjust the number of tickets in each remediation team’s queue based on their bandwidth so they know what to address in the next sprint or patch cycle.
No Code / Low Code Remediation Workflow Engine
Seemplicity is an end-to-end remediation operations platform that supports code, cloud, and infrastructure remediation teams from the moment a vulnerability is found to the moment it’s closed, including quality assurance. It will update the status of a ticket throughout its lifecycle.
Remediation SLA Tracker and Manager
SLA compliance can be hard to achieve. Seemplicity makes sure teams stay on track by monitoring remediation progress against process and SLA compliance goals, and helps you evaluate remediation efficiency.
By empowering security and remediation teams with Seemplicity, they’re able to achieve the level of organization, process, and scalability needed to stay secure in today’s digital world.
Learn more about Seemplicity’s RemOps platform today.