Enhancing Cyber Resilience Through IT and Security Collaboration

Cybersecurity threats are becoming increasingly complex and sophisticated and pose significant risks to organizations of all sizes. This evolving threat landscape includes a range of challenges such as advanced persistent threats (APTs), ransomware, phishing attacks, and zero-day vulnerabilities. These threats are often orchestrated by well-funded and highly skilled adversaries who employ sophisticated techniques to breach organizational defenses.

The existential threat posed by cyberattacks necessitates a shift toward integrated and more collaborative approaches between IT and security teams. Only by working together can these teams build a more resilient and secure digital environment that is better equipped to withstand and recover from cyberattacks.

In an effort to dig deeper into the real-world results of these attacks, the 2024 Ransomware Trends Report surveyed 1,200 organizations, all of whom suffered at least one cyber event in 2023. Over half of the respondents said that either significant improvement or a complete overhaul was necessary between these teams in their organization.

The State of IT and Security Team Alignment

In today’s digital landscape, the alignment between IT and security teams varies widely across organizations. There are several key areas of concern with regard to IT and security team alignment, including:

  • Integration challenges, such as communication and integration issues due to working in silos.
  • Technology integration, such as SIEM and SOAR, are increasingly being adopted to bridge the gap between IT and security teams.

When the 2024 Ransomware Trends Report looked into team alignment, respondents shared that out of all the personas surveyed (i.e., backup admin, security professionals, and CISOs or similar C-staff), the backup admin was the least satisfied with the collaboration between these teams.

In some cases, this lack of integration is almost untestable since these teams are separate in most enterprise accounts. These large teams also have their own budgets and focus areas too. Often the CISO sets the strategy for security, and that includes backup, resilience, and recovery. So, on one hand, they define strategy, but it’s being implemented technically by multiple operational teams, most of whom don’t actually report to the CISO. 
The solution here is to educate each of the parties on where the other person is coming from.

It continues to become clearer that improvement efforts — such as cross-functional teams — will lead to better communication and collaboration between IT and security teams.  When senior leaders look carefully at the integration between their security and backup tools, they’re very likely to discover gaps that need to be addressed before organizations can integrate their toolsets into one solution that addresses their shared challenges. Improved information sharing has a key role to play in integrating those processes across the organization as a whole.

Challenges to Unified Cybersecurity Strategies

The unification of your organization’s cybersecurity strategies is not a change that can happen overnight. There are many obstacles that could stand in the way of optimal alignment, including:

Lack of Collaboration

  • Effective communication and collaboration between IT and security teams are essential for a cohesive cybersecurity strategy. Communication gaps can lead to misunderstandings, duplicated efforts, and overlooked vulnerabilities.

Inconsistent Messaging

  • Inconsistent communication regarding security policies and procedures can create confusion among employees, leading to non-compliance and increased risk of security incidents.

Cultural Differences

  • The cultural differences between IT and security teams can also contribute to communication challenges. For example, security teams may be seen as obstructive or overly cautious, while IT teams may be perceived as more pragmatic and efficiency focused.

The Role of Technology in Bridging IT and Security

The traditional siloed approach to IT and security is no longer effective. Instead, there is a critical need for closer collaboration between IT and security teams to enhance cyber resilience. Effective collaboration can be achieved through:

  • Integrated risk management: IT and security teams should work together to identify, assess, and manage risk across the organization.
  • Shared responsibilities: Both teams should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities with shared accountability for protecting the organization’s digital assets.
  • Real-time threat intelligence: By sharing threat intelligence and incident data, IT and security teams can improve their understanding of the threat landscape and respond more effectively to emerging threats.
  • Continuous training and awareness: Regular training sessions and awareness programs can help both teams stay updated on the latest threats and security practices.
  • Adoption of advanced security technologies: Implementing advanced security solutions such as security information and event management (SIEM), security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools can enhance the ability of IT and security teams to detect, analyze, and respond to threats in real time.

Best Practices for IT and Security Coordination

Knowing how technology can help improve your IT and security posture is only one step in a larger plan. Based on the insights from the Ransomware Trends Report, here are several actionable recommendations to help improve coordination between IT and security  teams:

  1. Establish Clear Communication Channels

Regular meetings and updates: Schedule regular meetings between IT and security teams to discuss ongoing projects, upcoming changes, and potential security concerns. This ensures that both teams are aligned and aware of each other’s priorities and activities, thus reducing the chances of miscommunication and conflicting actions.

Unified communication platforms: Implement a unified communication platform that facilitates real-time information sharing and collaboration. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or dedicated cybersecurity platforms can be effective at this. These tools enhance the ability to quickly share critical information and respond to incidents, which fosters a more cohesive approach to security.

  1. Integrated Risk Management Processes

Joint risk assessments: Conduct joint risk assessments that involve both IT and security teams. This provides a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s risk landscape and ensures that both teams are working toward the same risk management goals.

Shared ccountability: Define and assign shared responsibilities for risk management. IT and security teams should both be held accountable for implementing and maintaining security controls. These actions will encourage collaboration and ensure that security is a collective responsibility, not a siloed one.

  1. Cross-functional Training and Development

Regular training sessions: Organize regular cross-functional training sessions that cover the latest cybersecurity threats, IT developments, and best practices. This enhances the skills and knowledge of both teams and enables them to better understand each other’s roles and collaborate more effectively during incidents.

Role-specific training: Provide specialized training that’s tailored to specific roles within IT and security teams. This can include certifications, workshops, and online courses that can help ensure team members have the expertise they need to perform their specific functions effectively and support collaborative efforts.

  1. Implement Advanced Security Tools

Integrated security platforms: Invest in security platforms that integrate with existing IT infrastructure. Tools such as SIEM and SOAR can provide a unified view of security events. Platforms like these facilitate better coordination and response to incidents by providing both teams with a single source of truth for security-related data.

Automation and AI: Utilize automation and AI-driven tools to streamline routine tasks and enhance threat detection capabilities. This reduces the manual workload for both teams and allows them to focus on more strategic tasks and improving overall efficiency.

  1. Develop a Unified Incident Response Plan

Collaborative incident response teams: Form a cross-functional incident response team that includes members from IT, security, legal, and business management. This team should have predefined roles and responsibilities for handling different types of incidents. Having a predefined team ensures a more coordinated and efficient response to security incidents, thus minimizing organizational impact.

In fact, this is a good opportunity to call out that, according to the 2024 Ransomware Trends Report, many of these best practice suggestions are already being seen in the real world. Of those organizations that suffered an attack, only 3% did not have a pre-identified team and only 2% did not have a pre-identified playbook.  Of the other 95%, a tested ability to recover and perform an assuredly clean backup were the top two requirements for an incident response playbook. The number three requirement was a plan for utilizing alternative infrastructures (i.e., datacenter or cloud) as a recovery site.

Regular drills and simulations: Conduct regular incident response drills and simulations to test the effectiveness of an incident response plan. Involving both IT and security teams helps identify gaps in incident response plans and improves the readiness of both teams in handling real-world incidents.By following these best practices, you can ensure that your IT security is protected on all fronts. By training your team, having a pre-identified plan, and testing everything with drills and simulations, you also ensure that your IT team will be able to respond like a well-oiled machine in the event of an attack.

Impact of Evolving Cyberthreats on Collaboration

Changes and trends in the cyberthreat landscape work as a forcing function. As we have seen year over year in the Ransomware Trends Report, attacks are getting worse. In fact, 75% of organizations suffered a ransomware attack in 2023 alone. This is forcing organizations to come together and evaluate their collaboration requirements between IT and security teams.

However, we also have to keep in mind that it’s not just the uptick in vulnerabilities and ransomware in 2023 – 2024 that necessitates tighter integration within organizations. There’s also laws, regulations, standards, and frameworks in place that drive integration between IT and security in developing and securing an appropriate incident response playbook.

Veeam’s Role in Supporting IT and Security Collaboration

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is a set of guidelines and best practices that organizations can use to improve their cybersecurity posture. The latest update to the NIST CSF 2.0 encapsulates the latest best practices and security principles that help counteract emergent cyberthreats.

These best practices often work hand-in-hand with pre-existing Veeam technology. Veeam ONE alarms, virtual machine (VM) visibility, and threat detection can collaborate with incident response to ensure real-time threat detection and remediation.

To help with the development and implementation of appropriate safeguards to ensure the delivery of critical services, Veeam offers several solutions like  Windows Backup Repository, and WORM Storage with Veeam Hardened Repository to protect your organization and limit or contain the impact of a potential cybersecurity event.

  • System integration: Explore the integration capabilities of Veeam’s solutions with other IT and security systems.

Veeam also offers Veeam Backup & Replication, SureBackup/SureReplica, and Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator to help validate dependencies between assets. This can be a helpful training resource for your organization in securing maximum protection.

Conclusion

The criticality of IT and security teams working together to perfect a cyber resiliency strategy is more apparent than ever before, but alignment doesn’t stop there. Your organization’s partners need to be on board in terms of that strategy as well. To go even further, your third parties, supply chains, and all of these elements combined are going to have an impact on your integrated risk management process. Therefore, this should be a key part in ensuring your company is as protected and prepared as possible in the face of an attack.

Though many technologies are outlined in the recent NIST 2.0 release, Veeam serves to offer a range of different products and technologies that are designed to answer a wide range of needs. Finding the right tools that work for your organization is an important step in building your strategic approach to IT security and bolstering your overall safety and resiliency as an organization.

2024 Global Report
Ransomware Trends
Lessons learned from 1,200 victims
and 3,600 cyberattacks
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