August 3, 2022

Doing More by Doing Less with Drew Simonis

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

Drew Simonis, CISO at Juniper Networks, discusses the debate of doing more by doing less. So often in cybersecurity, practitioners think they have to do it all and view themselves as the smartest people in the room. The fact of the matter is that none of us are the smartest in the room and we have to learn to trust each other. Drew believes a collaborative, trusting environment will bring us to a place of doing less and seeing better results because of it. 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Introducing the foundations of Drew’s “do more by doing less” mindset

[07:03] Doing more by doing less, specifically in tech stack and GRC teams

[15:00] Revamping the cybersecurity and IT vendor ecosystem 

[20:43] Understanding consumer and CISO impact on the cyber vendor market

[32:34] Reshaping the command and control security mindset

 

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How can security teams be more successful by enabling good decision making, versus trying to keep everyone from falling off a cliff?

The cybersecurity industry is stuck in a helicopter parent mindset, where practitioners don’t trust their colleagues in IT and feel the need to do the work for them. Drew explains that this is a low trust environment, where more work is created and no one thrives. If the industry works towards a high trust mindset, individuals are able to do their jobs and make decisions based on their knowledge, and even face normal consequences for their decisions, too. 

“[We think] we're the smartest people in the room. There's always this very dismissive, very condescending approach to our colleagues, who have very important jobs to do on their own. In a low trust culture, you get to the point where you have to be watching over everybody.”

 

How do vendors do more by doing less? How do they fit the trust and parenting model?

The bifurcation of the cybersecurity vendor system into cyber and IT has created more work for everyone involved, and has produced a lot of unideal results. With a lack of integrated solutions, organizations and departments suffer from simply not being able to have products that do everything they need them to do. There’s little cross-functionality and there’s often too many products happening at once to have one vendor making their intended impact.

“Why can't it all just work together? I think the whole notion of security as a buying center, separate from IT, created this opportunity for vendors to pursue a separate budget pot. In my opinion, it disincentivizes them from creating integrated solutions.”

 

What are we doing wrong as consumers that's encouraging this “do less by doing more” system instead of doing more by doing less? 

Sometimes, the only thing that can be done is starting over. The current system thrives off of an “us” vs “them” mindset and a business vs technology mentality, where trust is low and doing more results in actually doing less. Roles need to be rethought and reconsidered in cybersecurity organizations and executive leaders need to step out of the ivory tower of leadership to re-educate themselves and better understand their own roles.

“The whole separation of the cyber technologists from the IT technologists comes back to that trust issue as well. I can't trust IT to do the right things, I can't trust them to patch, so I've got to sit over here over their shoulder and scan.”

 

What's the revenue and business argument for everything we've discussed?

There’s always the pressure of revenue metrics and tangible results, especially if a process or role has to change within a cybersecurity team. How does doing more by doing less show up as a tangible result and outcome? It turns out, that all depends on transparency. Knowing the outcome that’s being looked for allows for a better understanding between practitioners and business leaders when the business argument for doing more by doing less has to be made.

“As CISO, I can't take your problem and try to make it my own and then solve it. I've got to trust you to solve it, and I've got to empower you, with the right tools, the right processes, the right policies, so that you have safe guidelines to solve that problem within.”

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Links:

Learn more about Drew Simonis on LinkedIn

Check out Juniper Networks on LinkedIn and the Juniper Networks website

Follow Allan Alford on LinkedIn and Twitter

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