Data Protection Strategy for Resource-Strapped IT Teams - How to Do More with Less

Data Protection
5 min read
James Mignacca
March 15, 2023
James Mignacca
March 15, 2023
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IT teams are increasingly asked to do more with less. Knowing how and where to cut can be tough, especially when you’re focused on scaling your data security strategy. Hiring freezes and reduced budgets are pushing many organizations to look for ways to improve efficiencies and strengthen their security posture without breaking the bank.

Data protection strategy - First steps

The first step is understanding the difference between — and the distribution of — human capital versus cash resources. As businesses continue to digitize, the number of SaaS tools IT teams rely on to supplement human skillsets has grown exponentially.

Teams have quickly accumulated SaaS security tools and are now struggling to determine which ones are necessary and which ones should be eliminated. This is known as “SaaS bloat” – when an organization has too many software applications that are not being used or are redundant.

The problem with SaaS bloat is that it can lead to wasted time and money spent on unnecessary tools, as well as a lack of visibility into what each tool does and how they interact with one another. It also makes it harder for IT teams to keep track of sensitive data and data permissions across multiple platforms, which grows your attack surface and increases overall cybersecurity risk.

Streamline your tech stack

If you’re being asked to do more with less there are steps you can take to evaluate your current SaaS stack, identify areas where you may have too much bloat, and re-coup budget:

01. Take inventory

Make a list of all the security tools your team currently uses and categorize them by use case (e.g., identity and access management, asset management, data loss prevention, compliance or data protection). This will help reset the tools you require based on the use cases your business needs to address.  

02. Assess usage

Once you have identified your business’s security use cases, assess how often each service is actually being used by employees or customers. If certain services aren’t being utilized regularly or at all, then they may be easy candidates for elimination from your stack.  

03. Evaluate cost-effectiveness

Compare the costs associated with each service against its value by security outcome. Outcomes could include data governance, asset inventorying, risk management, data access or data tracking. If a particular service isn’t providing enough benefit relative to its cost, consider replacing it with something more cost-effective or eliminating it altogether.  

04. Consolidate where possible

Look for opportunities where multiple services could potentially be consolidated into one platform in order reduce complexity and streamline processes. For example, if your team uses two separate data loss prevention platforms with slightly different feature sets, consider consolidating them onto one platform instead.

05. Automate

Automate manual tasks wherever possible using existing technology like robotic process automation (RPA). Automation can help your team eliminate manual rules-based tasks and redundancies without having to rely on additional product platforms.

Optimize your IT infrastructure

Once you’ve streamlined your security or SaaS applications and toolsets look to optimize other areas across your infrastructure and team operations:

Strategically leverage cloud services

Cloud-based solutions can help IT teams save time and money by eliminating the need to purchase, install and maintain hardware. Additionally, cloud services can provide access to the latest technologies without having to invest in costly upgrades.

Adopt best practices

Industry-standard best practices can help IT teams ensure that their systems are secure and compliant. This includes instituting appropriate security controls, regularly patching systems and vulnerability management.

Utilize open source solutions

Open source software can provide a cost-effective alternative to proprietary solutions. Many open source projects are backed by large communities of developers who can help troubleshoot issues quickly and efficiently, so your resource-strapped IT team doesn’t have to feel overwhelmed.

It's possible that this exercise might uncover gaps in your data protection strategy or use cases, and you might be tempted to look for new solutions to fill the void. Today, thousands of cybersecurity products and services span roughly 26 technology categories.

Source the right solution for your security requirements

Choosing the right option can be tough when you have limited time to vet solutions, a limited budget and limited bandwidth to manage it all. Here are some tips to help you navigate the marketplace and avoid unnecessary purchases:

Start by mapping your security use cases to outcomes

This exercise will help you better understand your security maturity as it stands today and the level you need to achieve based on your required outcomes. Having a clear understanding of your business’s security outcomes also helps narrow down feature requirements and vendor options.

Source multipurpose options

Look for platforms that can consolidate security capabilities and functions. Multiple solutions need more time and often more staff to manage them. A single solution provides your team with a single source of truth. Consolidating tasks and activities through a single platform also saves time and budget as you’ll often find capable platforms for a fraction of what you’re spending across multiple toolsets.

Look for solutions that allow you to build your usage over time

Legacy solutions used to come with legacy (read: expensive) price tags. Today’s market better caters to midsized organizations who need flexible pricing. Ask potential vendors if they can accommodate a tiered pricing model that can scale as your security needs or team grows.

Ask for a POC

Lots of vendors offer self-guided, free trials. A proof-of-concept (POC) provides you (the customer) with more support and a tailored experience to ensure that the product matches your specific requirements before you commit to a lengthy subscription agreement.

It might seem impossible, but you can ensure that your security stack is lean, efficient, secure, and cost-effective over time. With the right data protection strategy in place and strategic tools to support it, you’ll be able to make the most of limited resources and keep your systems running smoothly.

Check out the Data Protection Solutions Guide for more tips to help you organize and prioritize data security, best practices and technology solutions vetting.

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