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Published on 01/24/2024
Last updated on 06/18/2024

The hidden cost of cybersecurity tool sprawl


Let’s do a quick mental exercise. As quickly as you can, rattle off the names of different security tools you use in your organization. How many did you come up with? One study from Panaseer found that, “enterprise security teams are grappling to manage 76 discrete security tools.” Another study from Forrester reported that 55% of respondents noted having 20 or more tools between security and operations.

Here’s what happens in many enterprises: They start with a handful of security tools, each promising to be the silver bullet for some specific threat. One by one, the tools start to stack up. Eventually, they’re juggling dozens of solutions, each operating in its own silo. Before they know it, they’re suffering the effects of tool sprawl.

Cybersecurity tool sprawl is all too common in enterprises. You may even be aware of its presence in your organization. Some of the negative impacts of tool  sprawl—like increased complexity, inefficiency, and security gaps—are well-known. But what about the hidden costs of tool sprawl that slowly and silently chip away at your resources?

In this post, we’ll examine the subtle yet significant impacts of o many tools in your cybersecurity toolbox. Then, we’ll look at how a cloud-native application protection platform (CNAPP) consolidates all your tools into one, helping you combat tool sprawl and its hidden costs.

Hidden cost #1: Training and staffing

One of the first hidden costs of tool sprawl is training and staffing. When adopting a new tool, your organization will consider the costs of initial training and staffing. But the costs don’t stop there. To use a tool most effectively, security engineers will need continuous cycles of training.

Each new tool in your security stack comes with its own set of features, integration challenges, and caveats. Your security team is perpetually on the learning curve, trying to get a handle on the latest new tool while keeping up with updates to the existing ones.

Whenever you adopt a new cybersecurity tool, it’s like adding a new instrument to an orchestra. Each one requires a specialist who plays it well and understands how it fits into the larger symphony of your security strategy. This specialization and expertise can be costly. You’ll need to invest in ongoing training programs and certifications. You might even need to expand your security team just to cover it all.

Let’s set aside financial costs for a moment. The human element is important to consider, too. When your security team members are in a constant state of transition—always needing training and never quite settling into a rhythm—they will burn out. Instead, you need to find a cybersecurity solution that keeps your team ahead of the game and confident in the security measures they’ve put in place.

Hidden cost #2: Slow response times

In all things security, response time is everything. But your response time will suffer when you’re suffocating from tool sprawl. Why? Each tool operates in its own silo, leaving you with a fragmented view of your security landscape. Imagine trying to solve a puzzle when each piece is in a different room. Sure, it’s possible to solve it, but you spend more time running around gathering pieces than actually solving the puzzle.

As your security team scrambles to piece together information from multiple sources, time is ticking. Prioritizing threats and understanding the full context of an attack become constant challenges. Without clarity and unity in all the security information you’re receiving, your response time will slow and your risk of missing or underestimating a critical threat will grow. Splunk's State of Security 2023 report highlights this effect, noting that "64% of [security operations center] teams complain about pivoting among too many disparate security tools and management consoles, with little (if any) integration, inhibiting comprehensive and timely investigations and response."

Hidden cost #3: Mental burden and context switching

Switching between systems forces your team to mentally reset as it adapts to different interfaces and protocols. Each tool has its own stream of data, forcing security engineers to swap between multiple data streams to determine correlation. This constant mental gear-shifting is more than just an inconvenience. As the mental burden grows and focus fragments, the efficiency of your security team will decline. The likelihood of human error will increase. When it comes to your organization’s cybersecurity, clarity and concentration are critical. Constant context switching will drain your team’s cognitive resources.

In addition to how context switching affects the performance of the immediate task, it will also contribute toward burnout in your security team members. Initially, you may have thought that having more security tools would strengthen your security posture. Ironically, the burden of managing a sprawling tool set will subtly undermine the overall effectiveness of this approach.

Hidden cost #4: Resources wasted on redundant functionality

It’s common for different security tools to overlap in functionality. The overlap isn’t always obvious at first glance. As tools evolve and add new features, redundancies will emerge. With more tools in the arsenal, a team may not be fully aware of the areas they already have covered by existing tools, so they shop for another one, further adding to the redundancy.

A bloated security infrastructure complicates security and business decision-making. Your security team loses time determining which tool to use for a specific task. Inefficiencies and confusion grow. To accomplish a task, the team may use Tool A at times, but at other times, it uses Tool B to accomplish that same task.

These redundancies silently sap the efficiency and resources of organizations. From a financial standpoint, you’re double (or triple) paying for the same capabilities. Your security budget is inefficiently allocated. Rather than investing in a diverse set of complementary tools, you end up with a collection of tools that pretty much do the same thing, leaving you with security gaps.

The role of CNAPP in combating tool sprawl 

Tool sprawl is expensive. Everything takes a hit: your financial numbers, team morale, and operational efficiency. What’s the solution? The CNAPP.

A CNAPP is an end-to-end cloud-native security platform consolidating and centralizing all your security tools. Instead of needing to juggle multiple, disparate tools, enterprises that leverage a CNAPP will have all of the following cybersecurity solutions rolled into a single, unified platform:

  • Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) to monitor for cloud misconfigurations and ensure compliance, identifying and prioritizing risks while recommending remediation

  • Cloud Workload Protection Platform (CWPP) to provide continuous monitoring and runtime protection for cloud-based workloads

  • Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM) to manage permissions and entitlements in the cloud

  • Software supply chain security to prevent the introduction of security vulnerabilities by third-party and open-source dependencies

  • API security to monitor and protect API endpoints

This consolidated approach not only streamlines your cybersecurity strategy but directly addresses the hidden costs of tool sprawl. Here’s how:

  • Reduces the need for specialized training and staffing. The integrated nature of the CNAPP means there’s only one platform to learn and manage. Ever.

  • Faster threat detection and response: With all security information centralized, a CNAPP will improve your security response time, eliminating the delays caused by disparate tools and fragmented information.

  • Improved focus with a single system: As a singular, central hub, the CNAPP provides a cohesive and consistent user experience, reducing the cognitive load and context switching for your security teams. Finally, they can focus effectively on their core security tasks.

  • Eliminates redundancies and security gaps: With a comprehensive suite of tools tightly integrated, the CNAPP eliminates redundancy, ensuring that you’re not paying for overlapping functionalities and that your security team knows exactly where to turn to get a job done.

The CNAPP doesn’t just streamline your security operations. It strategically cuts down on the hidden costs of tool sprawl that significantly impact your efficiency and effectiveness.

Tackling cybsecurity tool sprawl effectively

In this post, we’ve briefly covered the hidden cost of cybersecurity tool sprawl. These hidden costs often go unnoticed, and organizations don’t feel the pain until it’s budget time or a security incident has rocked their foundation.

Most organizations only realize the true cost of cybersecurity tool sprawl when their budget is impacted or a security incident occurs. 

The good news is that enterprises don’t need to endure the effects and costs of tool sprawl as if there were no alternative. When it comes to cybersecurity, CNAPPs solve the tool sprawl crisis by consolidating and centralizing all of the single platform. For more information on how Panoptica—the best-in-class, cloud-native application security solution from Outshift—can help your enterprise establish a strong security posture with zero tool sprawl, schedule a demo or contact Outshift today.

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