What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is compliance for our audits, for our customers. We were exposed in that we were not meeting contractual obligations.
We are monitoring our infrastructure: servers, switches, storage, routers, SAN storage, operating systems, and applications to the extent that the tool is able to see into them. We use it to hit the high ones like Adobe or Microsoft Office and the like. Some of the more niche products that we use may not be in their inventory of vulnerabilities.
How has it helped my organization?
It helps us prioritize based on risk and it also helps us prioritize manpower, to show we are getting the most value from the limited number of man-hours that all organizations face. We have the same problems: Where do we need to focus? Where do we need to focus money? And where do we need to focus additional expertise that we don't have or didn't think we needed.
Overall, we use it as a third-party — I don't want to say settle arguments — but as an expert opinion as to what is a true vulnerability is, versus what is something that isn't as high of a priority. It takes opinion — if two cybersecurity people are arguing or discussing if this thing is more important than that thing — and, since Tenable is not invested in our company, gives the best practice. It is very valuable in that sense.
In terms of cyber exposure, it allows us to centralize both vulnerability management and visibility. We have one place to look instead of going through: Okay, we're using the Microsoft tool, and now we're going to go use the Cisco tool, and now we're going to go use the Red Hat tool. It allows us to centralize and easily correlate all data together, and then use the prioritization or just understand where the gaps in our security posture lie. That's more valuable than saying, "Okay, here's this report for Microsoft, and now we're going to print out a report from Red Hat, and we're going to print out a report from Cisco, and we're going to print out a report from NetApp, and we're going to put them all together and then we're going to discuss it." Having it in a single view is very valuable to us in that it saves us a lot of time.
Tenable also helps us to focus resources on the vulnerabilities that are most likely to be exploited. And since it is continuously updated, it allows us to reevaluate quickly if there are new vulnerabilities found, versus ones that we're already working off and are already known to us.
And since cybersecurity and IT security are not a fix-it-and-forget-it scenario — it's a continuous process — having a tool like this, especially one that is continuously monitoring our environment, is very valuable. It's not that we're not doing this once a year, we're not doing this once a quarter. We're doing this every day.
Finally, the solution has reduced the number of critical and high vulnerabilities we need to patch first.
What is most valuable?
The continuous monitoring piece has been very valuable to us.
The vulnerability priority setting in the software has been very useful to us as it allows us to focus on what's most important. We use it as a piece of our holistic look into our security stance.
The predictive prioritization features are pretty good. They do a lot of research and we trust the research that they do internally. They have knowledge of what's going on with many companies, where we only get a view into what's going on here. So the ability to get best practices out of them as part of this solution, is valuable to us.
The Vulnerability Priority Rating is also pretty good. It's a much more holistic view, instead of being very binary, which we tend to see. It lets us focus on what's most important to us, especially because it goes across many products that we have. It's good in that we see how each of these stacks up and where our priorities should be. Should they be in Cisco, should they be in Microsoft, should they be in Linux? That's very useful to us as well. We'd love to do all the work right now, but we have to pick some type of priority in terms of what we're going to focus on, before we focus on the less vulnerable items.
What needs improvement?
Using the product — especially very early on — even though we have things like prioritization, it can be a little verbose in that there's a lot of information being streamed out of the reports. What would be nice, and maybe we just haven't found it, would be more of an executive-type view. We still expect it to collect all this information, but we would like a feature that would allow us to show it to an executive or a director or someone like that and give them some type of high-level overview but not get into the nitty-gritty.
For how long have I used the solution?
We started using this iteration of it two years ago, but we had been a previous customer of theirs as well.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
We haven't had any problems with it. It seems stable. They make changes to it regularly, to both the vulnerability database and the product itself. They seem to be going through with a reasonable update path and they support previous versions for the expected amount of time.
We haven't seen any crashes or spikes.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It scales just fine. We're a Fortune 500 company so, obviously, we have very large networks here. As far as we know, it should scale. We don't think we can outpace the scalability of it. There are best-practices that we need to follow, but will this product be able to meet our needs for future growth. We expect it to be able to handle that.
Usage will be increased. There are two parts to the business. There's the business that is our overall corporate business, which is covered 100 percent by the solution. And then there's the manufacturing and design business. On that side, the solution is still growing. We have two contracts with Tenable for their SC product.
How are customer service and technical support?
We think technical support is pretty good. We have specific needs as defense contractors and they're able to meet those. We have a good account team. We have a customer success manager, Ryan Zentz, and we have a good account executive, Scott Mahan, and they do as much as they can to head off any issues that we have, instead of putting in a ticket or getting something escalated. They do a good job of helping us.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We previously used their lower version of security management. It was their single-install product, Nessus. We were using the standalone, non-enterprise version.
How was the initial setup?
The solution would be fairly simple, but because of our implementation it was fairly complex and we hired Professional Services to do it. We're not a typical example. As a straightforward install, I think it would be very easy. But because of our size and scope, it was a little tricky.
We have multiple deployments so we hired Professional Services for two weeks to do them. Some installations were done in a few hours and some of them took a few days. But, overall, we hired ten days of Professional Services.
We were focusing on installing first in our non-production environments; getting familiar with the installation, the capabilities, and what the overhead of the product was going to be on the network. From there did some testing and ran that through some discussion and a panel of in-house experts and decided that we would be good to go forward with production.
We then repeated that, where we would install in a small section of production, run a test to make sure that it didn't break anything or that it didn't cause undue harm. And then we went forward with expanding it out.
Now we have a process in place for installing for any new section of the network that comes up or any new infrastructure that we put together. It's a little easier for us to handle now that we're not tackling the big network. We're just handling delta changes over time.
What about the implementation team?
We used their in-house professional services. Our experience with them was good. They had someone onsite and who was well-versed in the defense industry. He was able to get it installed and answer our questions. We didn't have any problem with him. We liked him so much that we brought him back for another week.
What was our ROI?
Having Tenable is a requirement. It is a compliance piece which is part of our business. But it is money well-spent in that it focuses us to work on problems that are prioritized and it allows us to cut down on the manual integration of multiple reports from Microsoft and Linux, etc. It does save us considerably in that we can have less staff assigned to it, versus having a Linux team and a Windows team and a NetApp team, etc.
Running with a much smaller team of two people probably saves 80 percent of manpower. I would assume that the team would be ten people or so if we had to mash together multiple reports and spend time doing that.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I don't know our licensing costs but they're in the seven figures. We have an enterprise license, so I believe everything is tied up in that. We do not have any additional cost other than our large enterprise license.
The licensing is a little involved from both sides. That may be due to our specific implementation of it because we are a defense contractor. I feel we rely a lot on their customer service and they rely on us to do a lot of manual labor to get licensing installed or to get licensing. If there were some type of smoother transaction, that would be great.
I would like more self-service in the granting and rescinding of SC licenses, and that way we wouldn't have to be involved with customer service as much or with our account executive.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did two sets of white papers looking at the competition. We did a white paper in 2015 and another one in 2018. We selected Tenable after the 2018 white paper was written.
Between 2015 and 2018, the market had contracted considerably. Many of the products that we evaluated in 2015 had either been bought out by a competitor or just no longer existed. When we looked at it in 2018, Tenable had the strongest pedigree. They also had the ability to scale the deployment, versus some of the other products.
We looked at Ivanti, which really wasn't designed for vulnerability management; it was a bolt-on. We looked at Qualys. That was too heavy-handed. It was a good product, but there was too much overhead in managing or maintaining that product.
Tenable was the best fit for our needs. Tenable is also the provider for the ACAS solution for the US government. Since the vast majority of our customers are government customers, and our auditors are government officials, it was seen as an easy way to get past an audit, or at least that we would be looked upon favorably.
We did not test any of the competitors. We had done some tests in 2015, but again, many of those competitors were no longer in business or they had been bought out. The other product that made it as a finalist was Qualys, but there was a significant commitment and infrastructure needed. We felt that if that was the minimum just to get it tested, then it was not going to work for us on an enterprise scale.
What other advice do I have?
Go in with open expectations. Companies don't realize how big their infrastructure really is before they can get a single pane of glass view, which Tenable provides. Don't be disheartened when you run that first scan. It is a process. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. If you're not willing to invest in this for the long run, then maybe your organization just isn't ready.
I don't know how to assess our vulnerability status compared to that of our peers. The defense industry is fairly secretive about what goes on. But I think we're doing the right things. Having the licensing and the investment that we put in place puts us ahead in the industry. I can only really speak for myself, but I think that we are doing the right things, and investing the right dollar. And if our competitors are doing that, good for them. If not, I wish they would.
Security Center is generally run by either the information security manager or the information security officer. There are a few dozen people who have access to it and their roles would be two-fold: There are the lower-level, cybersecurity folks who are dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. And there are the more managerial types who would be getting reports and making decisions off of it. Lastly, the general IT staff would be using the reports or the remediation recommendations for making changes to their environment.
For deployment and maintenance of the solution we don't need that many. We had Professional Services in and we added a team of four to the Professional Services engineer to help us get it stood up over those two weeks. In terms of ongoing support of the solution, we have one or two people who are tasked with updating the vulnerability database and verifying scans and the like. But it's not overly burdensome. They are information security officers or cybersecurity specialists.
I would rate Security Center at eight out of ten. First, it's a little heavy-handed for us from a licensing perspective and second, there are some features and functionality that we'd like to see in the future which would make it more user-friendly for non-technical or more managerial types. It seems that the product is really written for technologists, especially on the reporting side.