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May 28, 2020

How Much Visibility is Enough?

Mike Crouse
Photo by Daniel Morris on Unsplash

Visibility is a versatile word. From an organizational perspective, it often means different things to different divisions based on desired business outcomes. This is especially true when examined through the lens of cybersecurity.

To an airline pilot, visibility requires unobstructed views for miles, across the horizon, to avoid any sudden reactions that would degrade the comfort and safety of passengers and crew members onboard. When visibility is compromised (or when an acceptable level of visibility can’t be achieved), pilots make adjustments to ensure minimal risk.

To a truck driver, visibility depends on awareness of both obstacles directly in their path or tangential to their proximity. Like a pilot, truck drivers also prioritize safety, both theirs and that of other people on the road. Beyond that, their priority focuses on hitting tight delivery schedules that allow the hauling company to maximize profitability.

Both pilots and truck drivers have to deal with external factors (bad weather, snow, fog etc.) outside their control that lead to increased risks against their objectives. Technology plays an increasingly important role in helping both of them make appropriate adjustments along the way.

So, what does this have to do with cybersecurity? Security professionals also make adjustments based on the level of visibility they have. Technology, as it converges at an accelerated pace, plays a key role as well. Here at Forcepoint, we often refer to visibility across networks. We also refer to visibility in terms of protecting users and data.

Does that mean collecting every minute detail at every endpoint where a user interacts with company data? Does it mean installing technology that collects every packet coming across the wire? Does it mean filling up numerous disparate databases with a hodgepodge of structured and unstructured data? No, it does not.

There’s a multitude of ways network, data and user visibility can be achieved or instrumented. With the security center-of-gravity shifting to the cloud for companies across industries, it is more critical than ever that companies have impactful, actionable, and meaningful visibility across all vectors of communication.  

Work to achieve meaningful visibility

Navigating a rapidly changing borderless security environment is challenging. Basic visibility isn’t good enough. Organizations should strive to achieve meaningful visibility. Getting there may require a re-examination of your organizations’ data and user protection strategies to gain this level of visibility.

Core elements of a robust strategy includes:

  • Visibility to how users interact with an organizations’ data and intellectual property (IP)
  • Continuous evaluation of user interaction with data and devices/applications.
  • Leveraging behavioral intelligence with meaningful data to identify and mitigate risks.

These core elements enable companies to gain deep visibility on the interaction between users, data, and applications to improve their data protection and compliance strategies. Most companies have a certain degree of network visibility. Even so, every company can improve.

Understanding behaviors, especially in terms of how users interact with data across networks and devices is starting to emerge as a piece of the puzzle. That’s a big reason why more CEOs and CISOs are beginning to see behavior-based technologies as the future of cybersecurity.

Security teams can achieve meaningful visibility by leveraging technology to shift our visibility from simply seeing what’s ahead of us to understanding how what we’re seeing can contribute to organizational risk, and proactively mitigating that risk.

Achieving meaningful visibility is even more important as organizations become increasingly reliant on cloud applications to go beyond maintaining business continuity and work to support large remote workforces as the new normal. This level of visibility provides the foundation for aligning processes, procedures, and technology to address the new era of digital transformation.

If you’re interested in digging into how CEOs and CISOs see the future of cybersecurity, click on the previous link Read the Report button on the right to download the report conducted by WSJ Intelligence.

Mike Crouse

Mike Crouse is the Director for Enterprise User and Data Protection at Forcepoint Global Governments and Critical Infrastructure. He works closely with industry thought leaders, executives, and the Forcepoint management team to help guide long-term programmatic and technology...

Read more articles by Mike Crouse

About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.