Security Automation: The Key to a Smarter SOC

In the wake of increasingly sophisticated cyber security threats, the pressure on enterprise security teams intensifies. While detection tools have advanced significantly, security  teams continue to be overwhelmed in their response - whether it’s due to alert fatigue, challenges of prioritization, or their inability to make sense of the vast volume of data being generated by all the tools.   

Maximizing the effectiveness of your security operations center (SOC) improves the speed and accuracy of incident detection and response. This requires deep integration of all your security solutions and processes to help you orchestrate SOC procedures . Rather than having a stack of siloed tools, a cohesive SOC is created providing higher efficiency, consistency, increased capabilities and a solid foundation for taking the next step toward —security automation.

How Security Automation Improves Detection and Response

The problem with a continuous focus on adding detection tools is that it leaves us with an overabundance of alerts that traditional SOCs can’t handle. By introducing security automation, you can scale operations to keep pace with the wave of data generated by advanced detection tools.

Rather than trying to outpace the explosion of security alerts by constantly hiring more analysts for your SOC team, security automation services allow SOCs to scale in several key ways.

  1. Alert Enrichment

    Integration and orchestration without automation won’t make the most of your detection and response investments. The initial work of a Cyber Analyst is to add context to an alert through enrichment. For example, resolving an IP address to a device, determine what system the device belongs to, and determining if there are known vulnerabilities for this system or other observables. 

    The first step in Security Automation is enriching your alerts automatically with context so that instead of working with a long list of disparate alerts, you see insights and can prioritize your response and remove false positives. For example, there should be a different sense of urgency in the way an Analyst responds to an attack on a privileged user versus a non-privileged user with limited access. 

    Alert Enrichment automatically adds context to an alert so those alerts may be prioritized and potentially correlated as a single incident and start to chain together a potential attack scenario. 

  2. Attack Visibility 

    The high volume of alerts generated by prevention and detection tools can be a blessing and a curse for SOC teams. In theory, all of those alerts indicate that your tools are effectively monitoring for and blocking threats as they approach your network. But the reality is that high volumes of alerts lead to false positives that diminish the effectiveness of your cyber security tools directing the attention of your security  analysts in the wrong direction.

    When your SOC team is overwhelmed by alerts and false positives become a regular occurance, attackers can more easily gain a foothold into your network without being detected. This is one main reason why the average company takes 197 days to detect a data breach.

    Security automation must focus on assembling the alerts into the probability of different types of attacks. These attack patterns are a chain or graph of discrete techniques. Often attackers have signature techniques that are used to complete a full attack.

  3. Proactive Hunting

    Despite the fact that cyber security spending is expected to eclipse $1 trillion by 2021, attackers continue to evade prevention and detection tools. Part of the problem is that traditional SOCs are limited to reactive monitoring without acknowledging that a response is required (because breaches will inevitably occur). Even when alerts are triggered, manual processes mean that the response is slow to deploy and the damage is magnified and more complex to resolve.

    To be proactive, security teams must be able to assemble multiple alerts into the probability of an attack scenario as mentioned above. Since there are a number steps that an attacker must take to implement a complex attack, being proactive means anticipating the next step, hunting for evidence and automating key response steps. 

    The speed and efficiency of security automation can also deter cyber criminals looking for a soft target. By making your SOC more proactive and keeping ahead of the latest cyber security threats you go beyond leveling the playing field to being in another league altogether.