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August 24, 2015

Embracing Security Analytics and Automation: The Scalability of Security

Embracing Security Analytics and Automation: The Scalability of SecurityDepending on your role within an organization, metrics and security analytics can be invaluable benchmarking tools. They can provide ways to improve performance (personal or organizational), as well as paths to more busywork. But whatever you think about them, it's a given that you work with them daily.

The statement holds true no matter the size of your company. Tiny companies and multinational megacorps alike use their daily (or hourly, or whatever-ly) numbers fix to get a grip on all sorts of information: employee performance, product performance, how the business stacks up against competitors — the list goes on, depending on who's using the numbers and how.

In other words, reliable, consistent and actionable metrics are very important in the software development world. This is especially true in security: Analytics provide a way for you to keep your software and the people/companies using it secure. Without them, getting a grip on how vulnerable a software product is would be difficult, if not impossible. Short of hiring someone to make a tick on a clipboard every time a scan is run or an error is made, it's safe to say security analytics are the unsung heroes of safe products everywhere.

Scaling Up

The problem, as ever, is figuring out how to rein in and streamline metrics usage as an organization grows — how to capture, analyze and even report the data in the bustle of an expanding workforce.

The best way to get there? Built-in tools, made by the company doing your security work. If a platform already has access to useful data — and especially if that program is being used across a host of offices and third-party sites — it might as well be harnessed in a way that helps the company learn, improve and grow. If your company isn't using a cloud-based platform for its security scanning needs, then automated, centralized analytics offer another compelling argument to make the switch.

Consistently Broad, Consistently Standard

It's no secret: Consistency in secure development practices is key. Regardless of what data your organization needs to monitor, security analytics promote that consistency as a matter of course. When the same program is ticking boxes across the expanse of development teams, there are no concerns about multiple manually configured programs tainting the data pool with bad or inconsistent reporting.

That said, pulling data from multiple reporting sources can be tricky when you're talking security analytics. Then there are the concerns over accuracy: Each program may have a different definition of a given flaw or, in comparison situations, different data on what competitors are up to. A single resource that can do all the legwork eliminates these concerns, allowing enterprises to make stronger, more unified decisions.

Third-Party Analytics

Delving into the world of third-party software vendors makes the metrics game even trickier, particularly in the realm of security analytics. Self-reporting security flaws create an obvious conflict of interest for even the most honest of vendors: When the options are to tattle on yourself or quietly fix and not report a security flaw, for instance, it's easy to see how numbers can be skewed.

Implementing a cloud-based program removes that temptation by eliminating the need to self-report. Moreover, it promotes consistency by holding all data sources, including third-party locations, to the same set of standards. As with multiple first- or third-party offices, there's no need for individual tools to sully data with variant ideas about what a given flaw looks like.

On top of that, it gives first parties a timeless motivational tool as they deal with vendors at the negotiating table and beyond: performance numbers. With an unbiased data source, companies have hard numbers to cite when, say, negotiating a new contract for a current supplier, or deciding which vendors to move on from in the event of a potential financial downturn. Simply knowing there's no way to misrepresent data keeps third parties honest, while also providing clear motivation to commit to clean code the first time around.

Analyze Away

In the "metagame" of recording and analyzing data, pulling info from a clean source (or sources) is of the utmost importance. After all, if your base data isn't correct to begin with, then the insights you glean from it are just as useless. Platforms such as Veracode's give organizations a way to monitor first- and third-party operations alike, with both speed and consistency. If you've ever dealt with a metrics system that pulls data from disparate sources, then you know just how crucial that is.

Learn more about Security Analytics and Benchmarking, and get in touch with Veracode if your security analytics aren't up to snuff. Getting a better grip on your business data is rarely a bad idea — and upping your security never is.

Photo Source: StockSnap

Evan Wade is a professional freelance writer, author, and editor from Indianapolis. His time as a sales consultant with AT&T, combined with his current work as a tech reporter, give him unique insight into the world of mobile/Web security and the steps needed to properly secure software products. Follow him on Twitter.

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