For years, large organizations have leaned on the assurances provided by their software suppliers’ certifications such as SOC 2 and ISO27001, assuming certifications meant that vendors’ security measures were up to par. However, due to a recent shift in hackers focus the spotlight is now turned towards the software supply chain. If it wasn’t crystal clear, then it is now: vendors’ vulnerabilities aren’t just theirs — they’re yours too. What might have once seemed like an unavoidable security debt has now morphed into a ticking time bomb, threatening to explode at any moment, leaving your vulnerabilities open to exploitation and manipulation.

The hazard of overlooking security debt

As auditors sharpen their focus on cybersecurity, your growing security debt is next in line to be under speculation. Eliminating even 20% of your security debt can be a task that would be both daunting and impossible with current resources, but overcoming this obstacle might be necessary for maintaining present customers. It’s no longer enough to merely meet the minimum requirements; organizations must demonstrate that they’re taking robust steps to eliminate their existing security debt, alongside ensuring security best practices are maintained across the board to include development. 

The domino effect of vendor vulnerabilities

In the intricate web of B2B relationships, your vendors’ security vulnerabilities should be considered your own. A single vulnerability in a third-party application can compromise your entire ecosystem, jeopardizing your ability to win new customers and retain existing ones. This is the biggest threat to your business and will directly impact your ability to compete in the market. 

How to strike a balance between workload and business objectives

Today’s challenge lies in striking a delicate balance between your business objectives and your security workload. How do you allocate resources to clear your security debt without sacrificing dev hours? You can’t — with your current tooling, that focuses on notifying and alerting, it’s just not possible. This complex juggling act demands strategic planning, prioritization, and perhaps most importantly, a revived approach to security. Not only should this include a security champions program, but a deep dive into the effectiveness of your current approach. If you’re still wasting time assigning SLAs, only to never address them but check off some internal security review, it’s time to reconsider. If your current tech stack only creates more work, then it’s time to look at modern technologies that offer vulnerability remediation at scale. Although it has its limitations, using a mix of AI in your tech stack can help you eliminate your security debt. 

Your new approach to security requires a mindset shift. Rather than focusing on creating tasks for your team, focus on eliminating them. Senior leadership must be educated and bought in, and security teams should critically assess their current tooling and eliminate solutions that only create more work and liability. 

Navigating the road ahead

Assigning SLAs to your security debt is no longer an option — in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Organizations must confront the harsh realities of their existing security programs and backlogs to take action to mitigate their risks. By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, prioritizing vendor assessments and aligning security initiatives with business goals, organizations can pave the way for a more resilient and secure future. What this looks like for your organization will differ from anyone else’s. You can start this process by critically reviewing how your team spends their time. What’s the estimated percentage of time spent assigning SLAs? How many of those SLAs do you actually fix in a year? What does your current security debt look like? How long based on the previous numbers would it take you to eliminate it completely? These are the questions you should be asking yourself. 

In this evolving landscape, the true cost of neglecting security debt extends far beyond financial implications — it threatens the very foundation of your business. This is no longer just a security issue, it’s a sale and marketing issue. It’s time to face the music and reinvest in the security measures that help your organization actually fix security versus detect and notify.