Business Risk Observability Is Vital For IT Teams To Come Together And Mitigate Security Risks Within Modern Applications
Posted: Monday, Apr 08

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Business Risk Observability Is Vital For IT Teams To Come Together And Mitigate Security Risks Within Modern Applications

For all of the recent talk about the need for more integrated approaches within IT departments, the reality is that many security teams (SecOps) continue to operate separately from development and operations teams. Security has traditionally been seen as a reactive function within the IT department, there to resolve security breaches and patch up vulnerabilities rather than being a central element across the application lifecycle.

But as organisations accelerate their deployment of cloud native technologies to deliver their digital transformation programs, the limitations of such a siloed approach to application security are being exposed. The move to modern applications has led to a huge expansion in attack surfaces and most IT teams are struggling to cope. They simply don’t have the right processes, structures and insights to manage a rapidly evolving and complex risk landscape.

IT leaders urgently need to get to grips with this situation in order to mitigate rising threats and to ensure their organisations avoid a revenue and reputation-impacting security incident.

Security Threats Are Spiralling As Bad Actors Target Cloud Native Environments

Organisations in all sectors are encountering an alarming explosion of security events. In fact, a report from Red Hat revealed that 93% of businesses have experienced at least one security incident in their Kubernetes environments in the past 12 months and almost one third of these businesses have suffered financial or customer loss as a result.

Bad actors are identifying worrying vulnerabilities within Kubernetes clusters, large numbers of which are reportedly openly accessible and unprotected, and looking to take full advantage. And what’s really worrying is that so many of these clusters contain a broad range of highly sensitive and valuable assets – such as customer data, financial records, intellectual property and access credentials.

Application security is becoming a major headache for all organisations and the pain could become a lot worse as organisations continue to accelerate their deployment of cloud native technologies to increase release velocity. IT leaders urgently need to find solutions to this worsening challenge, not only to mitigate risk but also to ensure they are able to deliver on their digital transformation goals.

Siloed Teams, Tools And Data – Current Application Security Approaches Aren’t Working

The truth is that, in their (understandable) haste to respond to constantly changing customer needs, most businesses have prioritised speed over security within their application development over recent years. In a Cisco study, ​​92% of global technologists admitted that the rush to rapidly innovate and respond to the changing needs of customers has come at the expense of robust application security during software development.

Many IT teams now have visibility gaps within their Kubernetes environments, and most are still working with siloed vulnerability scanning tools which don’t provide a comprehensive view of their organisation’s security posture. Technologists are facing overwhelming volumes of security alerts from across the application landscape but they can’t cut through the noise to quickly analyse issues and understand the level of risk. They haven’t got the right insights to manage security within modern applications.

But it’s not just a lack of tools and technologies that is hampering application security. Fragmented structures and working practices mean that ITOps and security teams are still operating entirely separately. Teams often only collaborate when a potential issue is identified – essentially, when the horse has already bolted. Security is an afterthought at the end of the development phase.

The consequence of this siloed approach is teams having to continually firefight, scrambling to detect and understand vulnerabilities, and without the processes, structures and trust to respond in an effective and joined-up way..

The big picture is that organisations are now becoming increasingly vulnerable to a security incident, with all of the implications this brings in terms of lost customers, revenue and reputation. With applications now the front door for nearly all businesses, and digital experience the foundation for brand trust and loyalty, any kind of security breach can spell disaster.

Business Risk Observability Unites IT Teams To Mitigate Business Risk

Organisations urgently need to find ways to get a handle on this worsening application security challenge. And the starting point for this has to be to ensure that their IT teams have expanded visibility into Kubernetes environments. Teams need to be able to locate and highlight security issues across application entities (including business transactions, services, workload, pods and containers). Entity level correlation enables technologists to rapidly isolate issues and apply fixes.

However, due to the sheer volume of alerts that are now being created across a highly dispersed application landscape, unified visibility isn’t enough. IT teams also need business context to security intelligence, to immediately assess and prioritise risk and remediate issues based on potential business impact.

This type of business risk observability combines application performance data and business impact context with vulnerability detection and security intelligence so that IT teams can quickly identify which business transactions present the greatest risk to the business. Technologists can rapidly access a business risk score for all vulnerabilities so that they can prioritise the issues which could do most damage – for example, those which relate to application entities which contain sensitive customer or third party data or those which are critical to payment transactions.

The wider (and potentially even greater) benefit of business risk observability is that it breaks down silos and changes mindsets within the IT department. It brings applications and security teams together around a single source of trusted data and insights, and provides a platform for organisations to embed security into the application lifecycle from the earliest stages of development.

By implementing business risk observability and embracing a more integrated approach to application security, IT teams can take a more proactive and strategic approach to application security. They can focus their time and skills on the things that matter most to the business, and deliver more secure and seamless digital experiences to customers.

James Harvey
James Harvey is CTO Advisor EMEA, Cisco Observability. He is responsible for setting the AppDynamics regional product strategy. His overarching role is to advise and help organizations better understand their business needs and realize the value and benefits of full-stack observability with business context. He joined AppDynamics in 2018. James has more than 20 years of experience in the tech field, having held senior IT leadership positions at various companies in different sectors like banking (Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO Bank), retail (New Look) and oil (BP).
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