IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Putting a Stop to Security Tool Sprawl

MSPs that offer customers a unified strategy will minimize management difficulties, lower costs, and avoid the security gaps often caused by multiple, overlapping tools. By Himanshu Verma

SECURITY “TOOL SPRAWL”—the use of too many one-off specialized solutions without a comprehensive strategy—is a serious, yet often overlooked, issue for both managed service providers and their customers. Putting aside the massive inefficiencies and hard costs, a common side-effect of multiple security tools is exposure to vulnerabilities and backdoors to serious threats. Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in tools that do not communicate securely or are not regularly updated. Therefore, IT solution providers (as well as IT decision makers) must put measures into place that curb security tool sprawl.

While tool sprawl isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s become more prevalent as SaaS and cloud-based tools have grown increasingly easier to procure and fulfill. Organizations have been adding security tools that either overlap with defense solutions they already have in place or are—in certain cases—entirely redundant. According to one Forrester survey, 55% of IT decision makers reported having 20 or more tools between security and operations, and 70% of respondents say these tools lack full integration.

These overlapping tools not only create a false perception of security on the customer’s part, but also increase licensing costs, impact productivity, and boost the chance that a critical patch or bug fix will be missed.

For MSPs, managing and maintaining multiple redundant tools drastically increases total cost of ownership. It also undermines—and may cause the customer to undervalue—the MSP’s consolidated security services approach.

Steps to Take

So what can you do to ensure this issue doesn’t creep up and negatively impact your business?

Start by clearly identifying the scope and entities of coverage required before deploying a new security tool. It’s critical that you understand the various components of the IT infrastructure at hand—network, endpoint, wireless, identities, and so on—and map security coverage across individual use cases—users, applications, physical, virtual, etc. This will allow you to explore opportunities for consolidation when choosing the appropriate security solutions.

Next, consider taking a platform-based approach to security, leveraging connectors and integrations. Look for platforms that offer layered security services across multiple use cases with a wide breadth of coverage either natively or with seamless technology integrations.

Then, be sure to segment infrastructure based on intent. Logical segmentation can allow you to isolate critical assets. Network segmentation, micro-segmentation, and macro-segmentation will all allow you to establish a secure environment and limit the exposure in distributed environments.

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