Understanding alert overload part 1: Why security teams are drowning in disconnected data

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Written by Thomas KinsellaCo-founder & CCO, Tines

83% of security teams are overwhelmed with the volume of alerts and the complexity of tools.

Computer Weekly

In cybersecurity, it's easy to feel like your successes don't matter. After all, if things go wrong and a failure happens, that’s a lot more likely to make front-page news. Media coverage of high-profile breaches is growing, even for companies that have invested heavily to build up their security programs.

Security breaches are never fun, but they're even less enjoyable when you know that your company could have done something about it. Nobody wants to be the person who missed a security alert or was too slow in introducing effective tools. But in this field, the reality is you can do everything right and still have an incident!

Alert overload occurs when a security team is bombarded with too many alerts, to the point where they can't make sense of them all. This happens for a number of reasons, including too many tools or data sources that are not well integrated with one another. As a result, teams miss critical alerts or take too long to investigate and resolve them. This can have serious consequences, ranging from compromised systems to data breaches.

In part 1 of this blog series, we explore some of the challenges security teams face in relation to alerts and the impact they can have on an organization’s security posture.

Challenge 1: Poorly tuned Alerts

One of the biggest challenges facing security teams is sorting through the vast amount of data that is generated on a daily basis to identify which alerts are worthy of further investigation. This problem is compounded by the fact that many organizations lack visibility into their own network activity, making it difficult to determine what constitutes normal behavior and what might be indicative of an attempted attack.

Challenge 2: False positives

The problem above is further complicated by false positives—alerts that flag benign activity as malicious. False positives not only waste time and resources but contribute to alert fatigue, which occurs when people become desensitized to warnings and stop paying attention to them altogether. 

Challenge 3: Clunky, incompatible tools

The average organization today has 76 tools in its security stack. Some of these tools might be for monitoring, some for managing incidents, some for reporting, etc. The problem is that these tools often can’t connect or communicate effectively with each other making it easier for attackers to find their way into your organization. Old-school integrations that require advanced coding skills take far too much time and skill to build and maintain. 

Challenge 4: Outdated processes

Processes that are outdated or not in line with current best practices leave security teams feeling reactive and exposed. Many security teams also lack visibility into their organization’s key assets, which leaves them vulnerable as they defend against outside threats with no real strategy. As a result, sharing information and collaborating with other teams securely is a friction-heavy process.

Challenge 5: Inadequate training

One of the most important success factors for any organization is continuous training for its cybersecurity team. Training equips the team to operate within their tools, and best practices, and communicate with the business effectively. Without regular training, cybersecurity teams aren’t able to defend their organization’s networks and systems, which leads to data breaches and other serious problems.

Conclusion 

Cybersecurity teams need a way of managing alerts more effectively, otherwise, they'll continue to face high rates of burnout as well as employee turnover.

There are no silver bullets, but there is no doubt that the need for flexible, innovative tools to deal with the mounting pileup has never been greater. The last thing any cybersecurity team needs is a complicated and difficult-to-use tool that takes them away from what matters most.

Part 2 of this series will delve into ways to keep your team focused on what they want and should be doing - analyzing and investigating threats.

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