Cybersecurity Interview

Bridging the Gap: Kartik Shahani on Uniting IT and Cybersecurity for Resilient Operations

In an era where the digital landscape constantly evolves, the imperative for seamless collaboration between IT and cybersecurity teams stands paramount. Kartik Shahani, the Country Manager at Tenable India, sheds light on this critical nexus in an insightful conversation. His expertise underscores the challenges organizations face due to the divide between IT and cybersecurity teams, where differing priorities often hinder holistic security measures. In this exclusive interview, Shahani delves into the transformative potential of exposure management, elucidating how it acts as a linchpin for aligning IT and security objectives. He expounds on the efficacy of preventative security approaches in discerning and fortifying business-critical security efforts. Shahani’s nuanced perspective emphasizes the pressing need for IT teams to prioritize cybersecurity and offers strategies for effective communication, fostering a cohesive environment conducive to proactive threat mitigation and organizational resilience.

In light of the obstacles faced by organisations between IT and cybersecurity teams, how does exposure management help bridge the gap and align the objectives of these teams effectively?

Exposure management offers a unified and contextual view of users, systems and software enabling security teams to effectively evaluate activities across the attack surface. However, competing business interests often prioritise speed and uptime are favoured over security, which is at the heart of the IT and security misalignment. Without a cultural shift towards a security-first approach, the IT and security misalignment will remain.

Treat cybersecurity as a business partner, bringing in a cyber risk perspective at the earliest possible stages when considering the purchase and deployment of new solutions. Allowing cybersecurity to have a seat at the table in shaping business strategy ensures cyber risk metrics are incorporated into all decision-making processes. Security isn’t owned by cybersecurity teams alone — It is everyone’s responsibility. Organisations must ensure cybersecurity is a part of all business processes and managed by everyone in the organisation.

Exposure management plays a crucial role in streamlining processes for a cybersecurity-first approach. It reduces the number of siloed tools in use so that the teams burdened with managing all these disparate solutions — and spending hours each month putting together reports from them — can instead focus on continuously analysing and proactively remediating risks across the entire attack surface. Devoting more resources to preventative security is a necessary first step to shore up defences. While evaluating a new security tool, organisations must consider time-to-value and ensure that it increases productivity and reduces risk effectively.

Could you explain how a proactive security approach, specifically exposure management, enables organisations to prioritise their security efforts more efficiently, particularly in safeguarding business-critical aspects?

Cybersecurity organizations often grapple with reactive and isolated security programs, resulting in a proliferation of tools that generate extensive yet fragmented data, offering minimal actionable insights. Exposure management addresses this challenge by consolidating a contextual understanding of vulnerability and misconfiguration data from various assessment tools. It systematically analyzes the interrelationships between each finding, providing organizations with a comprehensive grasp of their potential points of vulnerability.

In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, where malicious actors seamlessly shift between different types of vulnerabilities, it becomes crucial for defenders to comprehend the interconnected impact of their accumulated vulnerability and misconfiguration data. Traditionally, such aggregated and relationship-focused analyses were manually conducted, often relegated to spreadsheets. This approach led to incomplete perspectives of the environment and a cumbersome, labor-intensive process for addressing the issue at hand.

Exposure management effectively resolves these issues by offering complete visibility into the expansive attack surface, presenting a unified view of all assets, and delivering precise remediation and prioritization strategies for various vulnerabilities and exposures. This not only empowers organizations to establish a baseline for effective risk management but also enhances their capacity for informed risk decision-making.

IT teams must prioritise cybersecurity alongside operational speed and uptime. Why is this alignment crucial, and what measures can organisations adopt to ensure a seamless integration of these priorities?

Frequently, there are inherent conflicts between the goals of IT and security. IT primarily prioritizes uptime, often leaving security efforts to play catch-up. Organizations need to reconsider how they evaluate the performance of their IT and cybersecurity teams, a crucial step in addressing misalignment and dismantling organizational silos. The initial phase involves recognizing the inherent contradictions in the rewards each team receives. The creation and implementation of scoring metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) aligned with cyber risk are essential, ensuring that IT and security efforts are in sync.

While exposure management equips organizations with preventive security measures, its effectiveness hinges on ensuring everyone in the organization is held accountable to the same metrics. This accountability extends across cybersecurity, IT, engineering, DevOps, identity and access management, or cloud teams.

Communication between security and IT teams seems pivotal. How can security teams effectively communicate cyber risks to IT teams, fostering a collaborative approach towards preventive security measures and gaining support for such initiatives?

Incorporating cybersecurity into the broader enterprise risk management framework is imperative. This integration ensures that cybersecurity is not treated in isolation but is regarded as an integral component of the overall business strategy. It facilitates the alignment of cybersecurity initiatives with business objectives, as risk management involves evaluating the potential impact of risks on the organization’s strategic goals.

Adopting a risk-based approach in discussions proves beneficial for both technical teams and executives, allowing them to prioritize actions based on their potential impact on the business. This approach shifts the conversation from technical intricacies to a focus on how cybersecurity threats can affect various facets of business operations, including reputation and financial outcomes.

In practical terms, this approach entails identifying and conveying the most critical cybersecurity risks in a manner that resonates with executive concerns. For instance, rather than delving into the technical details of a specific vulnerability, the emphasis would be on articulating potential business impacts, such as data loss, service disruption, or compliance issues.

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