August 2, 2022
Use modern automation tools to identify and mitigate attack risks more efficiently than otherwise possible.
Cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of automation to carry out time-intensive tasks critical to their attack strategies. As a result, an arms race between newly industrialized cybercriminal syndicates and cybersecurity technology vendors is taking place.
Fortunately, the benefits of automation are not exclusive to offensive operations. Security automation can be as valuable from a detection and response perspective. In fact, there are scenarios in which it can be even more effective.
Automation can level the playing field and reduce the volume and severity of cybercrime threats. When integrated properly into an organization’s security posture, it can dramatically improve response times by enabling fast, accurate decision-making.
The DevSecOps Approach to Implementing Security Automation
End-to-end security automation isn’t feasible for enterprise-level organizations. The most successful approach involves discrete, task-based automation guided by a sensible framework.
Development security operations (DevSecOps) establishes an integrated approach to platform design so that prevention, detection, and response actions become part of the platform’s normal lifecycle alongside its development and operational cycles.
In the SOC environment, implementing security toolsets and processes within the existing development cycle helps security teams build a constructive feedback loop for recognizing the impact of security threats.
In this framework, visibility and response capabilities inform incident response, prompting the development and release of security updates based on testing outcomes. Those releases lead to operationalized outputs in security monitoring processes, which lay the groundwork for improving visibility and response capabilities – and the cycle repeats.
Where Does Security Automation Have the Greatest Impact?
Organizations that optimize their technology deployments to make the most of security automation tend to focus on four key infrastructure elements first:
- Event triage and prioritization
- Curated threat intelligence
- 24x7 security operations monitoring
- Rapid endpoint response playbooks
Each one of these items can be significantly improved through automated technologies and services. Identifying the right solution for your organization’s needs is key to maximizing the impact security automation can produce.
Event Triage and Prioritization
To manually triage security events, analysts must quickly check file depositions or IP addresses and hostnames. This is not a complex process, but it is repetitive, time-consuming work. As the IT environment grows, the volume of events to triage can quickly overwhelm analysts’ capabilities.
A sophisticated SIEM platform like Exabeam can correlate event data according to pre-configured risk thresholds and show high-priority events first. This gives analysts the ability to respond to high-risk threats first, significantly reducing response times for active attacks and breaches.
- Curated Threat Intelligence
To identify specific threats, analysts often must spend time comparing log data to known indicators of compromise (IOCs). This painstaking process doesn’t always produce results, but the chance to accurately map suspicious activity to a known threat signature is too valuable to ignore.
The problem is that millions of threat indicators are published on public exchanges, and there is no one-size-fits-all framework for deciding which ones to investigate first. Threat intelligence services like Anomali ThreatStream take this burden off analysts’ shoulders by providing a curated list of high-impact threats unique to the organization’s security posture and risk profile.
- 24x7 SOC-as-a-Service Capabilities
Deploying 24x7 security operations capabilities is a top-priority goal for many organizations, yet many settle for suboptimal results. Having a single security analyst on-call overnight doesn’t quite qualify. Organizations need to combine continuous monitoring with effective incident response capabilities that can be launched at a moment’s notice.
This is why many organizations partner with managed detection and response vendors like Castra. Scalable, on-demand security resources enable organizations to orchestrate comprehensive incident response playbooks as soon as threatening activity is detected. This is a much more cost-effective solution than hiring and equipping an entire in-house security operations team.
When layered on top of modern, automated security operations defined around the DevSecOps framework, MDR services allow in-house analysts to focus on larger strategic projects, secure in the knowledge that their automated workflows are running smoothly. Both the in-house team and its MDR extension can focus purely on what they do best.
- Rapid Endpoint Response
Your organization’s endpoints are uniquely exposed to human security vulnerabilities. Whether operated by employees or provided to the public, endpoint devices often provide early indicators of suspicious behaviors and active cyberattacks.
Manually analyzing endpoint usage is a resource-intensive task that can stretch the capabilities of even the largest enterprise security teams. Comprehensive endpoint solutions like Palo Alto Cortex XDR significantly improve enterprise security posture by automating threat detection and response on large endpoint device deployments.
Automation Must be Reusable
Automation that enhances an existing process will produce better results than automation designed to replace that process. Not all processes are defined entirely by clear, predefined decision paths that are automation ready. Expert human analysis is still necessary wherever intuition, context, or creativity is involved – like threat detection and incident response.
This means that even highly automated security processes can generate productivity bottlenecks. In an enterprise environment, scaling the human element to meet automated productivity outputs can quickly become prohibitively expensive. Hiring in-house talent for every specialized technology need will stretch even the most generous enterprise security budgets and is hard to justify when more efficient alternatives exist.
Start Automating Security Operations and Improve Incident Outcomes
Growing organizations cannot manually perform repetitive, high-volume security tasks indefinitely. As the IT environment expands, its security needs will grow far beyond the capabilities of its security staff. Security leaders must respond either by hiring and equipping new security team members or automating the most time-consuming tasks those employees face.
Security automation enables IT leaders to concentrate security expertise and resources on their most demanding projects. When analysts spend less time on high-volume, low-impact tasks, they are free to pursue more valuable strategic initiatives that can dramatically improve the organization’s security posture.
Castra is a managed detection and response vendor that operates a full-fledged security operations center equipped with some of the industry’s most powerful technologies.
Speak to a Castra expert to find out how we can help your organization automate its most time-consuming tasks and develop a growth-friendly security framework.