Why IT Systems Visibility is Key to Impeccable Cybersecurity

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When a company is surrounded by procedural systems, its formalized nature becomes difficult to understand. Being intangible, there should be an ongoing attempt to help visualise these IT systems so they can be better understood and controlled.

The stakes for impeccable cybersecurity are high, yet are continually underestimated. This is why ServiceNow implementation services, among other consultants, are in high demand – they help build the foundation in which you can yield the security benefits long after their implementation.

The research director for Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security, Marcus Sachs, defines visibility in cybersecurity as being knowledge of what’s going on and where you are. Mapping interactions between the applications, networks, devices, and such is vital, but so are simple inventory checks and ensuring you’re fully aware of your assets, personnel, and their roles and relationships with the assets.

To take the example of using visibility in the software delivery lifecycle. This is important to know how the DevOps transformation is making ground but also how it's progressing in comparison to peers. Using AI and data analysis, it is possible to collect data, process it, and use Key Performance Indicators to visualise the ways that could help improve the quality and efficiency of software delivery.

The same can be done for cybersecurity in its most basic form, too, as any increase in visibility of IT systems will have the benefit of more comprehension, particularly in other departments. One way to increase the visibility of IT systems may be the firstly consolidate them. Having a single source for the IT infrastructure and increasing its simplicity and transparency, though will depend on how you go about the consolidation. Besides, this will help cut down on maintenance and support costs.

Having high visibility for your IT services can lead to being faster in noticing critical issues. In particular, the relationship between the IT infrastructure and business services could be more transparent, perhaps through the use of KPIs among other ways, which helps prioritize issues within IT and visualise their knock-on effects.

Knowing exactly what assets you have is a key part of visibility, and is usually the first step, particularly when using Marcus Sachs’ definition of visibility. You need to know what assets you have in order to manage and protect them properly – which also includes people, who have access to what, as well as the visibility of files and such. A breach can have devastating consequences for all stakeholders – from customers to investors – if not just from the punishment of non-compliance.

Proactive IT change management is vital here, as opposed to being delayed in constantly reacting to issues via their symptoms. This approach is important in reducing risks and must remain methodical by first identifying what you have, and then increasing the relationship between the IT infrastructure and the business services. 

Finally, visibility at the board level should not be overlooked either. Identifying what critical activities need to occur, how it’s presented to the leadership team, the costs associated, and so on requires certain proactivity between the board and management team.

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