6 Hacks Security Teams Can Use to Improve and Accelerate MTTR


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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Sometimes it can be difficult to provide greater visibility to your IT systems. That's where MTTR comes in handy. So what is it and how do you improve it?

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6 Hacks Security Teams Can Use to Improve and Accelerate MTTR
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As IT systems become more complex, greater visibility into systems and the ability to address multiple, complex failures is key to maintaining business operations

Mean time to repair (MTTR) measures the average time it takes to fix an issue after it has been reported. It's an essential performance metric for security teams of all sizes because it measures the team's efficiency and effectiveness in handling security incidents.

In this article, we'll discuss the key elements of MTTR and the challenges faced by security and maintenance teams in achieving optimal MTTR. We'll share 6 hacks that security teams can use to improve and accelerate MTTR.

Understanding the basics: Key elements of MTTR

The key elements of MTTR include average time to repair, the time between failures (TBF), response time and time to recovery. Consider their impact when a customer-facing website goes down, or your teams cannot access files or services.

  • Average time to repair (ATR) measures the average time it takes to fix an issue after it has been reported
  • Time between failures measures the period of time between the occurrence of two failures
  • Response time measures how long it takes for a security team to respond to an incident once it has been reported
  • Recovery time is the period of time it takes to restore the system to its normal state after an incident

The challenges faced by security teams in achieving optimal MTTR

Security teams face several challenges in achieving optimal MTTR, with a typically quoted industry goal of fewer than five hours. One of the main challenges is the lack of collaboration between development and operations teams (DevOps). The DevOps team is responsible for developing and deploying software applications, while the security team is responsible for securing those applications. When there's no collaboration between the two teams, security issues may go unnoticed, leading to longer MTTR.

Another challenge faced by security teams is unplanned downtime. Unplanned downtime can occur due to several reasons such as hardware failure, software bugs and cyber-attacks. Unplanned downtime can lead to longer MTTR, which can have severe consequences for the organization, causing operational or reputational damage.

Learn more: 5 Famous Outages That Lost Businesses Millions

6 hacks to improve MTTR

  1. DevOps team collaboration: Security teams can improve MTTR by collaborating with the DevOps team. By working together, both teams can identify security issues early on and fix them before they become significant problems.
  2. Proactive maintenance: One way to reduce MTTR is to perform proactive maintenance. This means identifying potential security issues before they occur and fixing them proactively. By doing so, security teams can reduce the number of incidents that occur and improve MTTR.
  3. Reducing unplanned downtime: Security teams can reduce MTTR by reducing unplanned downtime. This can be achieved by implementing redundancy in critical systems, performing regular backups, and implementing disaster recovery plans.
  4. Monitoring single metrics: Security teams can improve MTTR by monitoring single metrics such as incident resolution time, time between alerts and time to resolution. By doing so, security teams can identify areas that need improvement and take corrective actions.
  5. The importance of service level agreements (SLA) and service requests: SLAs and service requests can help security teams improve MTTR. SLAs define the level of service that the security team will provide, while service requests help prioritize incidents based on their severity.
  6. Adopt tools and technologies to monitor and improve MTTR: Security teams can use several tools and technologies to monitor and improve MTTR. Performance metrics can help identify areas that need improvement, while automation can help reduce the time it takes to fix an issue.

The danger of neglecting MTTR

Not understanding and managing key failure metrics can lead to businesses losing substantial revenue and suffering extended downtime, such as the shipping business MSC that lost its website and booking portal for five days in 2020.

And if you are more concerned about real-world applications, there is plenty of technical and code detail on how MTTD and MTBF impact DevOps KPIs to reduce downtime and improve customer satisfaction.

Final thoughts

Achieving optimal MTTR requires informed decisions, communication and continuous improvement. Security teams can improve MTTR by collaborating with DevOps, performing proactive maintenance, reducing unplanned downtime, monitoring single metrics, implementing SLAs and service requests and using tools and technologies to monitor and improve performance. By doing so, businesses can improve their efficiency and effectiveness in handling unplanned incidents, which is critical for the organization's success.

This is necessary as research firm Forrester pointed out we are reaching an automation paradox - one where all the easy IT tasks have been automated and what’s left is harder to manage, even with automation.

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