As humanity as a whole begins to shift its weight further towards the age of total machine autonomy, the speed of operations continues to be more important than ever. This is more so for teams involved in security operations.
The technology we rely on has rapidly shifted from manned working stations to desktops, laptops, and finally, the advent of the Internet of Things is just around the corner.
At the mention of the phrase, IoT turns heads both because of its imminence and the abundance of threats it realization presents. However, as the technology landscape evolves, so do the threats, and so must security operations.
In regard to speed, security operations are usually slowed to a crawl by processes that are currently done by hand but would be better suited to machines.
Additionally, despite the existence of various tools that allow such undertakings to be accomplished, they don’t communicate with each other very well: information sharing, integration, and contextual alerts are difficult to pass between system. This warrants human intervention, consequently slowing down the process even further.
Some teams attempt to minimize the amount of disorder that would be potentially faced by milking every last drop of talent from the security teams. Often enough, this will exacerbate the problem, like fatigue, compromises and general human error find their way into the error resolution process.
Turning to security orchestration and automation has a ton of benefits, the greatest of which is increased speed of operations and efficiency.
Security Orchestration and Automation
Not everything is doom and gloom, however. More and more organizations are turning their attention towards the benefits of security orchestration and automation in their security strategies. Though commonly mistaken – one for the other – security orchestration and automation are fundamentally different.
Automation – Security automation is the handling of tasks automatically by machine-based applications rather than having it done manually by a cybersecurity expert.
Orchestration – Security orchestration is the process of integrating and connecting different security applications so that they work as a traditional monolithic system.
More specifically, many companies are using security orchestration and automation to tackle common problems faced by security experts like: vulnerability management, threat containment, and email phishing.
The Benefits of Security Orchestration and Automation
Why are security orchestration and automation such a big deal? Aside from the measures put in place to prevent attacks from taking place, there’s no guarantee someone will break through. The technology landscape is evolving much too fast to dwell perpetually on a pure preventive approach.
All this is, in fact, before the consideration of the effects of human error. According to a report by Verizon’s Data Breach sector in 2017, as much as 43% of all data breaches are as a result of human interference.
Clearly, then, the over-reliance on human intelligence and knowledge in the process of prevention and remedying threats is like playing an overly complex game of whack-a-mole.
Faster response times
One aspect of cybersecurity operations that makes it such an unbecoming task is identifying and analyzing potential threats. Cybersecurity experts often spend unsightly amounts of time on simple tasks such as filtering through data to decide what is a threat and what’s not.
Take the traditional example of the attacker that tries to get access to the system from different machines over an interval of time. One of the roles of a security expert would be to go through the data and attempt to co-relate the pieces of data from the attacker and other possibly meaningless data.
Rather than spending their time on such a task, the expert could instead turn to security orchestration and automation. After the different tools in charge of specific operations have done their part, the expert can then step in.
According to a report published by Rapid7, the average amount of time teams save by adopting these solution equates to about 83% per alert – from 30 to 5 minutes.
Increased accuracy across security operations
In addition to faster response times on alerts sent out by the system, the amount of accuracy offered by automating operations is unrivaled.
It should go without saying that human error is the greatest contributor to mismatched, misconstrued and invalid data in any system. Removing the human element, or at least minimizing it, is the ultimate way of seeing to it that these errors are eliminated completely.
Security orchestration and automation improve accuracy and enable teams to achieve a lot more with fewer resources. The machine is solely responsible for gathering and compiling data in the automation phase and delivering relevant pieces of information to other processes in the orchestration phase.
Teams are thus left to focus on the analysis of the data and response to alerts produced rather than spending this time collecting the data manually.
Lastly, a well-implemented security orchestration and automation system allow for a level of flexibility that’s impossible to achieve with the traditional monolithic system. As such, they can automate only as much as they need to, if they wish.
Major time, cost and labor savings
A security orchestration system works in various phases: collection of data, correlation with relation to context, processing the data and allowing for easy communication with relevant personnel.
Every one of these phases represents an element where human interaction would have been involved. Since this is almost completely cut out of the equation, large amounts of time, and by extension – cost – are saved.
Currently, the security landscape is concentrated on the paradigm of prevention, detection, and response. Security experts should treat their systems as if they have already been compromised and are responding accordingly. However, prevention should never be overlooked, even in the face of security orchestration and automation.
Security orchestration and automation have their benefits, and despite the amount of accuracy they add to any system, most experts understand that the human element can never really be eliminated from the system.
As such, no system is completely free of error, and quite possibly, no system ever will be. However, systems must adapt to the kind of change the security landscape presents by adopting security automation and orchestration.