The successful implementation of new tools and processes hinges not just on the technology itself but on meticulous project management. From ensuring secure access to the underlying infrastructure, a new tool will be implemented upon defining clear goals and understanding the security footprint of the service. Even the earliest steps of your rollout can be important in the long run.  

Getting all the parts right from the onset helps to ensure that you can reap the benefits of a successful deployment far faster and easier than those who might stumble at the initial stages.

Defining Clear Goals and Communicating Benefits

A key aspect of IT security project management is aligning the project’s goals with the broader objectives of the business from the very beginning. This includes defining measurable outcomes and communicating the benefits of the new tool to stakeholders across the organization. Translating the business goal into a practical implementation plan isn’t always an easy task, but doing so ensures there’s a mutually supported goal.

Whether it’s a  with a goal of reducing the organization’s exposure to security risks by 20% within the first six months or a compliance tool that aims to highlight your compliance with a regulation or security Standard ahead of an audit, your high-level goals and how you assess your progress towards achieving them should be identified early and reviewed regularly.

Importantly, sharing this goal with stakeholders through presentations, reports, and workshops offers a solid opportunity to highlight the tangible benefits of delivering on the project in a timely way and helps justify the project deadlines throughout the organisation.

Ensuring Secure Infrastructure Access

Before diving into the implementation of a new security tool, it’s paramount to ensure that access to the underlying infrastructure is secure. This involves setting up stringent access controls, such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC), and testing these ahead of time.

If there’s new infrastructure involved (new servers, agents to roll out to existing devices, etc.) or network connectivity to factor in, making sure you’ve got these components set up in line with your existing best practices ahead of time means you aren’t caught rushing through emergency changes (and increasing project and business risk at the same time).

Typically, these project activities are easy to push through quickly, but that doesn’t mean they should be. Whether you’re rolling out a new vulnerability management tool or compliance software, ensuring your team sets up MFA for all administrators both for the underlying infrastructure access and the new tool itself helps you build security from the start while adding and testing changes to existing server and firewall infrastructure helps ensure there are no hurdles on day one of your deployment that requires further change management assessments.

Change Control Requests and Backout Plans

Change management is the backbone of any IT project, especially in the realm of security. Change control requests outline proposed changes, their impact, and the steps for implementation. Equally important are backout plans, detailing how to revert to the previous state if issues arise.

As the project progresses, ensuring your team captures changes in the relevant control requests is an opportunity not just for you to document the plan but to ensure your team understands the details of the deployment. Taking the example of a vulnerability management tool deployment, capturing your scanning schedules, scan targets, and any custom vulnerability checks in your change plan means you’ve not just complied with the needs of your change control team, but you’ve also started to document how you want to configure your new tool in some detail.

Testing Procedures Developed by the Team

For those deploying a product without an idea of how to evaluate its effectiveness, there is a real risk that the goal definition stage won’t be effectively translated into measurable progress. Test procedures should always scale well to your environment – covering the smallest of segments of data you might want all the way up to the full-scale network scans you might need or comprehensive reports for your entire estate.

Your vendor may help, but don’t forget to make your test procedures relevant to your business. Otherwise, there’s a risk of “grading your own audit” in the test methodology. Knowing your business goals and making them accurate and demonstratable from the early stages of the project will put you ahead when scaling up.

Understanding the Security Footprint of the Tool

Every security tool brings with it a unique security footprint, encompassing aspects such as access requirements, certificate management, and password storage protocols. Understanding and managing this footprint is essential for maintaining a secure environment and ensuring that adding your tool doesn’t expose you to added risk.

In an ideal world, your team should dig deep into the security requirements of the security toolchain because it will often have a lot of access to important security data. Through documentation, you can capture who should and does have access to the tool, how certificates are managed, and define the secure storage protocols for system passwords. Knowing your network is key, and this applies just as much to your security infrastructure as it does to the rest of your network.

Integrating the Tool into Processes and Developing Security Behaviours

Successful deployment of a security tool involves seamless integration into existing processes and the development of security best practices. This includes defining where and how data will be accessed, as well as outlining expected security behaviours from users.

When integrating the example vulnerability management tool mentioned earlier, ensure that the team maps out the process for scanning new assets as they come online, as well as defining the guidelines for responding to critical vulnerabilities and outlining the expected actions and escalation paths for the team. Failure to do so risks leaving the tool’s results abandoned and exposing the rest of the business to further danger as well as risking your investment (of both time and money) going underutilised.

Secure Projects Lead to Secure Tools

Effective IT security project management processes are the bedrock upon which secure environments are built. Whether rolling out a vulnerability management tool or implementing any other security solution, meticulous planning, clear communication, and a deep understanding of the tool’s security implications are paramount. Whilst there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, organizations that consider how tools are set up at the start are much better positioned to be successful from go-live day and into the future.