Four Ways Technical Debt can Threaten Cybersecurity Posture

Four Ways Technical Debt can Threaten Cybersecurity Posture

Technical debt has been the biggest challenge for CISOs as it makes it difficult for them to effectively operate or enhance their cybersecurity infrastructure. Therefore, they must devise strategies that will enable them to strengthen their cybersecurity posture.

With enterprises still trying to emerge from the pandemic’s impact, many have piled a significant technical debt hampering their cybersecurity infrastructure. In fact, according to the 2021 Voice of the CISO report, two in three CISOs believe that technical debt is a significant factor in causing security vulnerabilities.

Most enterprises create technical debt by creating shortcuts and placing crucial aspects such as code quality, performance, usability and architecture, and security on hold. Also, according to experts, many organizations are carrying tens or hundreds of thousands of discovered but unremediated risks in their vulnerability management systems. Hence, it is crucial that CISOs understand technical debt’s security impact by thoroughly analyzing and understanding the various ways poorly executed projects can lead to opening the door to intruders and attackers, or on how discovered vulnerabilities can be seamlessly addressed.

Also Read: Why CISOs Can’t Afford to be Fatigued by Data Breaches

Below are a four ways that can significantly pile technical debt for CISOs:

Low-quality software

CISOs should make an effort to realize that every software development project has to go through various stages where the code has to be refactored to effectively address any potential security gaps. Therefore, the CISO should develop a structure to detect possible issues prior to deployment as it is easy to miss them when the product is already in use.

As software ages over time, patches are required to be addressed to bugs and security issues. However, all software reaches an end-of-life stage when its originator will no longer support it. Unfortunately, in a few instances, it can be difficult to sunset a current software product as its developer has either abandoned the offering or gone out of business. Continuing to operate on the legacy software risks building a dangerous technical debt as invaders and attackers may have discovered new steps to exploit the software that can be devastating in the long-run.

Not having strong governance

CISOs should take steps to ensure their asset’s full lifecycle is addressed during its initial design and implementation stage that includes long-term operational costs and supporting resources. This is needed to reduce the possibility that a system has suddenly or gradually emerged as a security concern. To effectively carry out this process, the security teams should be engaged early and must be included in the design process.

Weak strategic alignment

Technical debt emerges when IT and cybersecurity strategies clash. Therefore, both CIOs and CISOs ensure they are adequately aligned and should strive to resolve the conflict.

CISOs should work within the enterprise to build and understand technical debt for developing the right metrics to manage them. In addition, they should prioritize building required tech refresh costs into their budget.

Also Read: Three Things CISOs Want Everyone to Know

Neglecting modernizing

In most cases, it can take years before a technical debt becomes apparent. Old technology both software and hardware, can pose a great security risk. Not only is the tech in some circumstances impossible to repair or replace, it’s usually more disconnected and less understood by the staff.

Years, or sometimes decades of workarounds, updates, upgrades can make technical debt problematic. Hence, it is crucial that CISOs should include plans that make it easy for them to modernize their infrastructure and process on a periodic basis.

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