Understanding. Speed. Action. Consistency.

These four tenets are key to success whether you’re an athlete, a chef or a CISO.

They can put an athlete in a far better position to catch that winning pass. They can help a chef reliably serve up delicious food to hungry clientele. And they can enable chief information security officers and other IT professionals to build greater resilience for their businesses.

Reduce noise from alerts

For many organizations, it’s challenging to understand and prevent cyberthreats and act within seconds when needed. These challenges are widespread in part because using too many tools can be messy when trying to secure an organization. Gartner says that “About 90% of security breaches occur because attackers take advantage of software that IT staffers have either misconfigured or failed to patch.” Compounding this, these large collections of tools generate a cacophony of alerts but rarely provide the context needed to understand and act on incidents.

This leaves organizations spending hours and days investigating alerts. And after all the time and effort companies invest in tools and investigating potential threats, cybersecurity teams often find that these incidents do not actually require action.

Coordinate to improve understanding

With the right people, processes and technology, teams and organizations can gain a more complete understanding of threats and act fast, based on that understanding, when needed.

Embracing the NIST framework certainly can be helpful. However, as several CISOs and industry experts also recognized, while NIST tells you what to do, it doesn’t detail how to do it. So, organizations should view the NIST framework simply as a good starting point.

What truly aids in understanding and taking action is adopting a common infrastructure to correlate data, cut through the noise, and provide context so that you know whether and how to act to prevent and contain threats. That common infrastructure should be able to capture data points across your cloud solutions, edge devices, endpoints, security information and event management (SIEM) system, servers and network. It should also use machine learning for pattern recognition, correlation analysis and to coordinate responses when desired and required.

As Gartner recently wrote: “Organizations are leaning into optimization and consolidation.” And many mid-market organizations choose to consolidate their security tools with the Microsoft E5 suite, which offers data consistency across their cloud, endpoint and other infrastructure.

Structure for consistency

A proven managed detection and response (MDR) provider can provide a common structure to correlate multiple data sources and give you exactly the information – and context – you need to understand and act on threats. Now you can determine if what appears to be a risky sign-in is actually an incident involving impossible travel, for example. An MDR provider also can help you establish baselines so you can understand what is and is not standard behavior within your organization.

While technology is valuable, the importance of human experts cannot be underestimated. In-house knowledge is critical and joining forces with an MDR provider allows you to supplement that knowledge with the cybersecurity expertise you need without fighting the costly war for security talent. Choose an MDR provider that works with you to understand the idiosyncrasies of your attack surface, rather than one that applies a cookie-cutter approach. That way, you don’t just react to threats, you improve your security maturity by reducing the attack surface and triaging more effectively. As a result, you enjoy added protection and the comfort of knowing that you have the necessary people, processes and technology in place to increase your business resilience.

Of course, cybersecurity is a journey, not a destination. It’s important to stay vigilant and have an action plan so you can be ready for anything. With an MDR provider on your side, you have the resources to address cybersecurity every day, every night, on weekends and even on holidays. An MDR provider also can help you to establish and test an action plan. That way, everyone – from the C-suite to all key employees – will be clear on their roles if fast action is required. And you can execute your cybersecurity missions in a consistent, rapid and repeatable manner.

Athletes work with coaches, teammates and trainers to improve their performance. Executive chefs rely on sous chefs and other specialists to serve up winning meals. And CISOs and their teams can work with highly skilled MDR providers to gain greater understanding, move faster, increase the effectiveness and consistency of their cybersecurity efforts, and enable their security posture to mature.