Mitigating risk after large-scale security team layoffs

If your security team has been cut in half, how do you continue to keep your organization safe?  

In recent months, major tech companies such as Microsoft, Salesforce, and Amazon have announced large-scale layoffs. While these decisions may be necessary for the financial health of the companies, they can have major negative effects on a company’s security posture.  

When a business undergoes layoffs within its security teams, knowledge and expertise – alongside critical personnel – may be lost, making it difficult to maintain the same level of security as before. This sudden decrease in security coverage can create new vulnerabilities, making way for potential data breaches that may put your organization and its sensitive data and resources at risk.  

Some of the risks posed by large-scale security layoffs  

Laying off security staff can pose specific significant risks and challenges to an enterprise.  

  • Workload management – The remaining staff may struggle to cover the workload of those who have been let go, leading to a decrease in overall security coverage.  

  • Managing new threats - In addition to the immediate workload concerns, the loss of security staff can also hinder a firm's ability to conduct research toward identifying and managing new threats. As the threat landscape is constantly changing, it is important for firms to stay up to date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities to effectively protect themselves.  

  • Slower response time - Without a robust security team, an enterprise may not have the resources or expertise to maintain the same level of security coverage, resulting in decreased security monitoring, slower response times to vulnerabilities, and an inability to stay abreast of new incoming threats.  

  • Filling security gaps – Gaps in security architecture can leave your enterprise open to attacks and compromise, which can have serious consequences that include data breaches and major financial loss. 

How to mitigate the risk to the enterprise 

The process of laying off employees in large numbers can be complex and requires careful management to minimize risk and ensure a smooth transition. Security teams play an essential role in minimizing compliance issues, data risks, and confidentiality breaches within a company – issues that occur often when offboarding employees.  

Hackers may also target companies that experience mass layoffs, aware of the vulnerabilities that loom in the wake of structural changes. In such a case, there may not be sufficient monitoring to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect the company’s assets and minimize potential risks. Without oversight from a robust security team, these risks are magnified, potentially causing major damage to a company.  

There are several steps that enterprises can take to mitigate the potential security risks of large-scale layoffs of a security team. Let’s have a look at the top steps to take. 

Tip 1: Refocus your team’s priorities  

After the layoffs of members of the security team, there are several steps that are necessary in order to adjust your team’s workload and maintain efficiency:  

  • Re-prioritize responsibilities – Reviewing priorities and redefining team responsibilities is key to staying abreast of tasks. Properly distributing the workload amongst remaining team members can help ensure that there is sufficient security coverage for the enterprise.  

  • Removing roadblocks – Allow team members to fill open positions or take on additional responsibilities without roadblocks to maximize resources.   

  • Review security policies and provide training- It may also be helpful to review and update security policies and procedures, as well as to provide training opportunities for remaining team members to ensure that they are prepared to take on additional responsibilities or fill open positions. 

Tip 2: Limit data access 

Another important step is to scan thoroughly for any data loss or breaches, ensuring that any individuals who have left the company do not have access to critical data or platforms. This can help minimize the risk of data compromise or unauthorized access to company resources, relevant especially in the case of a former employee who is particularly disgruntled.  

Tip 3: Maintain careful offboarding protocols 

A key strategy in protecting company processes and data amidst layoffs is implementing strict and specific offboarding protocols:  

  • Restrict access to company data -This can include revoking access to company systems and data for offboarded employees, disabling accounts, and ensuring that all company property is returned.  

  • Prevent data loss - Organizations must utilize a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) program to monitor data and ensure that it is being handled securely. DLP technologies can help to identify and prevent the accidental or unauthorized transmission of sensitive data, as well as track and monitor data movement within the enterprise. 

  • Monitor suspicious activity – Unfortunately, in the case of structural change, former employees who are particularly disgruntled may attempt to cause harm to your enterprise. Ensure that your security team is monitoring any suspicious activity from accounts of laid-off employees to protect your systems from a potential breach.  

Tip 4:  Utilize your best tools 

The first steps in managing layoffs within a security team involve cost-benefit analysis to realign priorities with limited resources. Making the best use of the resources at hand will ensure that security coverage stands at the forefront of your business. During the layoff process, ensure that you are evaluating:  

  • Current security tools – Run an analysis of the security tools that your team is using in order to get a better understanding of the resources at your disposal.  

  • Automations are key – Define which of those tools are expending the most manpower, demanding more time of your team members. Automate where you can, alleviating as much work as possible from remaining security staff.  

  • Cost-benefit analysis – Evaluate the necessity of security tools to understand which bring critical value, and which take lower priority. This will refocus the security team to make sure that staff are only investing in tools that are the most efficient.  

It is also important to maintain a business-risk approach, prioritizing security risks, while placing efficiency on the center stage during staff shortages. This can help to ensure that the enterprise is able to continue operating smoothly while also maintaining strong security controls. 

Tip 5: Focus on communication – internally and externally 

Open communication with any security vendors that you partner with is an essential component of protecting assets through major structural changes, allowing security services to continue operating effectively offsite. By maintaining a clear channel of communication, enterprises can get a more transparent view from vendors of what is happening within their networks to ensure that security programs and practices are being employed and maintained.  

Additionally, it is important to monitor company activity and look for signs of unrest or distrust within the company, as this can indicate further organizational changes within a period of existing unrest. By taking a proactive and strategic approach, enterprises can help to protect their processes and data in the case of large-scale layoffs.  

Work with an advanced MDR provider 

It is critical for enterprises to carefully plan and manage large-scale security layoffs to minimize potential risks and ensure that the company's assets are adequately protected.  

By taking a proactive approach, mitigating potential security risks and ensuring the continued security of the enterprise is possible. Consider bringing in external resources or consulting with security experts to help fill gaps that will bolster your security posture before you experience any vulnerabilities.  

If your enterprise has recently had to reduce the size of its security team, working with an advanced MDR provider like CyberProof can help close the gaps to mitigate risk. Our services are specialized to identify the potential weak points in your systems and help you ensure that your data is protected – even amidst periods of major change. By putting efficiency and security at the forefront of the work we do, CyberProof empowers enterprises to mitigate risk and develop a proactive approach to securing their assets.  

Interested in learning more about how your organization can mitigate risk? Contact us today!  

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