Tool Sprawl: Does Your Company Have Too Many Security Tools?

Over the years, technology has designed the way we work and live today. As the world evolves and advances, technology does as well. 

Just in the past century, we have seen unimaginable technological advancements that have shaped the way we work. Technology allows businesses and their employees to work quicker, be more productive and more efficient.

In the security sector, there is a new phenomenon that is affecting productivity. Today, businesses are shifting from implementing internal security solutions to adopting third party security solutions for their internal and external security. 

While adopting third-party vendor security solutions comes with many benefits such as saving costs and time, automation and more, a common challenge has arisen: security teams are using hundreds of security solutions in their security stack. Each solution provides security alerts that they need to fix manually.

On many occasions, businesses will be using similar technologies for the same security challenges. This abundance of solutions offers the idea that security teams won’t know where to go when a security risk occurs in their business. 

What is Tool Sprawl?

The typical organization’s network is more complicated than ever. More resources are in the cloud than on-prem and  IT teams have enlisted a bevy of tools to regain the network visibility they need to ensure security. These tools are numerous, and while they may be able to provide visibility, orchestrating and managing them is difficult and unwieldy even for the most seasoned IT professionals.

Tool sprawl is the idea of organizations investing in a range of products that make it harder for IT teams to manage and orchestrate the solutions. In the security industry, we see this challenge on a daily basis. While tool sprawl doesn’t happen overnight, it slowly creeps up with every addition of a new solution.

Most businesses will adopt a new tool in order to fix a specific challenge and then before they know it, they will be using hundreds of tools that become unmanageable. Instead of fixing a problem businesses suddenly have added more challenges. According to a 451 research survey, the average IT and security team are using between 10-30 security monitoring solutions for applications, network infrastructures, and cloud environments.

Tool sprawl isn’t just for businesses. In fact, the average employee experiences the challenge of tool sprawl in their daily work environment. According to a HubSpot survey, the typical employee is using more than 6 tools on a daily basis and the number will continue to expand. In every level of a business, the result of tool sprawl has become a burden instead of a solution to the problem.

The increasing adoption of more solutions has created more consequences for organizations and their IT and security teams. The main repercussions that businesses will experience with tool sprawl is high cost and less effective threat response.

Tool sprawl can get expensive as each additional solution is added. With each solution, employees are forced to be trained on how to use it and how it can relate to their day to day job. Over time this approach is extremely time consuming and not cost-effective.  

Secondly, tool sprawl lowers threat response time. By trying to manage a “Tool Sprawl” environment. Sometimes it might even put the organization at risk when it comes to identifying an attack or to incident response.

Instead of responding fast to an attack, it will take the organization a long time to collect the logs and notifications and understand what kind of attack they are dealing with and what action they should take. 

Tool Sprawl Increasing Security Vulnerabilities  

Today’s cyber attacks are more sophisticated and harder to detect – which means sensitive data is more vulnerable than ever. Organizations are adapting to the new threats by moving all their networks and resources to the cloud which has resulted in an increase of misconfigured and exposed deployments of various software. 

This fact, together with ensuing hybrid IT complexity, is creating new security challenges for IT teams. Many organizations choose to implement a range of innovative security technologies in order to deal with the new-generation threats.

Implementing those solutions seems essential to IT managers for improving visibility across cloud deployment but the adoption of more solutions to their security stack creates more security risks. 

The result of tool sprawl is diminishing the visibility across employees’ devices and networks which are trying to connect to cloud resources. With the lack of network visibility due to tool sprawl, security teams will experience delayed threat response time and not knowing which tool will fix that specific security risk.

By not knowing which tool to use when a specific attack occurs, the organization’s resources and networks will become more vulnerable than before.  Additionally, tool sprawl can provide another challenge for IT and security teams by accidentally creating a lack of confidence in employees’ ability to monitor and enforce fixes when a security risk is presented.

While tools are numerous and they may be able to provide visibility, orchestrating and managing them is difficult and unwieldy even for IT professionals. How do we fix the issue of tool sprawl?

The Emergence of SASE Could Finally End Security Tool Sprawl

In order to gain a high Return On Investment (ROI) with third-party security solutions, organizations need to rethink their security approach. Instead of adopting many different cyber solutions and vendors, organizations should look to implement an easy to use unified platform where they can manage and consume security solutions from a range of different vendors through the cloud as a service.

This new approach will allow organizations to easily consume network security solutions that can be easily integrated with each other all in one platform. This is where the SASE model comes into play.

The Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) model is the idea of combining the key elements of network and security solutions into one unified cloud platform to be delivered as a service. The ideal features in a SASE platform are ZTNA, SDWAN, CASB, FWaaS and others. This unified platform will help organizations to simplify secure access and security to resources and networks on the cloud.  

The emergence of SASE will consolidate the essential network and security functionalities for easy consumption within a single product.

When these solutions become the norm, IT teams will be able to more easily manage security, achieve network-wide visibility (even across cloud deployments), and reduce costs, readying themselves to be agile and cloud-confident for the future.

Over time, organizations will start to adopt this more unified platform approach which will dissolve the challenge of tool sprawl.

Moving Forward 

As more organizations continue to adopt numerous security tools, they will need to rethink their security strategy to avoid security flaws such as tool sprawl.

However, if organizations continue to ignore the fact that too many security products are causing more risks, then those organizations are opening themselves up to potential breaches and poor management which will all point to tool sprawl. Instead, businesses should look for more simplified unified platforms like the SASE model to solve the issue of tool sprawl.