As organizations expand their infrastructures and networks in both size and complexity, managing security and compliance manually becomes increasingly challenging.
Manual security processes result in slower detection and remediation of problems. Such operations also pose risks, such as errors made in resource configuration and inconsistent policy application. As a result, organizations may leave systems vulnerable to compliance problems and cyberattacks.
By automating tasks related to infrastructure security, you can streamline the daily operations of your teams and integrate security into all the processes, applications, and infrastructure from the ground up.
Organizations that fully deploy security automation stand to reduce the average cost of the cybersecurity breach by a smashing 95%.
Read this article to learn the essentials of security automation – automation types, benefits, and challenges.
What is meant by enterprise security?
Enterprise security refers to the collection of strategies, techniques, processes, and tools that organizations use to reduce the risk of unauthorized access to data, information, and IT systems. The activities that are part of enterprise security include the standardization, development, change, and evaluation of the company's enterprise risk management and security methods.
All enterprise security activities need to be in line with the organization's general compliance requirements, administration strategies, and culture. This includes carrying out risk analysis tasks that are essential to the organization's core operational efficiency. Enterprise security also generates procedures and strategies that help to safeguard the company's digital and physical assets.
What is security automation?
In its essence, security automation refers to the use of different technologies to carry out tasks with small to no human assistance in order to integrate all of the security processes, applications, and infrastructure.
IT security is a critical branch to any enterprise undergoing digital transformation with legacy systems and infrastructures. Modern security practices protect the integrity of IT technology such as data, systems, and networks from any kind of cybersecurity attacks, damages, or unauthorized access.
In fact, IT security is an umbrella term that includes many different aspects such as network, Internet, endpoints, cloud services, applications, application programming interfaces (APIs), and more. The idea here is to establish security strategies and processes that are synchronized together to help protect IT systems from breaches.
Why is security automation important? Benefits of security automation
The primary goal of implementing security automation is to assist risk and security analysts in their daily tasks so they can focus on the essential components of their job. However, security automation brings many other benefits.
1. Faster incident resolution
Intelligence and data allow computing devices to learn from patterns and forecast events. In security, this translates into launching a security response to a trigger based on a learned behavior that is identified as a threat. An automated system can offer much faster and more responsive threat protection. As a result, an organization can pinpoint the threats faster and remediate the problem before it becomes a real issue in its infrastructure.
2. Improved incident response
Security automation accelerates the process of identifying threats, but it also impacts the incident response time. When your security analysts are overwhelmed with the number of security alerts every day, they can only dedicate their time and attention to the most critical ones on the list. By taking a share of this workload, security automation solutions can make incident response the standard practice and increase your efficiency in remediating threats.
3. Visibility thanks to security metrics
When orchestrating an automated security suite, your goal is to integrate with all the different tools that increase visibility. Such solutions help your teams to track and report on various security metrics to gain a more comprehensive view of your security posture. As a result, you gain greater visibility into all of the security issues and processes at your organization.
4. Standardized processes
Another benefit of security automation is that it encourages standardization across all the aspects of security management. When you fully orchestrate your infrastructure security, you will gain visibility from one centralized hub. This will help your security departments to standardize security management processes across the entire organization. As a result, they will ensure that all of the goals are met consistently.
5. Preventing alert fatigue
During the last few years, organizations added many different detections and monitoring tools to their workflows. And the amount of attacks is constantly growing. However, these tools might not be as effective in the beginning when they bring many false positives.
One report showed that 31.9% of security professionals tend to ignore alerts simply because they're dealing with so many false politics. This phenomenon is called alert fatigue.
It happens to many security teams, preventing them from staying afloat and facing the constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape. If you notice that your security team is becoming overwhelmed with the number of alerts - and differentiating between false positives and real threats is more difficult - this is the best moment to introduce security automation.
Automation solutions can take over the processes of detecting, investigating, and addressing security alerts. This will allow security analysts to concentrate on inspecting and responding to real threats and stopping security breaches before they happen.
6. Minimizing the possibility of human error
Manual work involves the possibility of human error and inaccurate data as its result. By introducing security automation solutions and removing human involvement from the picture in at least one area, you will greatly reduce the chances of error.
An automation tool will follow the same rules and procedures every single time, without any errors. Moreover, security automation helps to improve the accuracy and consistency of alert investigations and threats they detect. It works best in tedious tasks where a human security analyst might make a mistake easily.
7. Cost reduction and operational efficiency
All of the benefits we mentioned above come down to this most important benefit of security automation:
Improved return on investment from automation tools and your existing ecosystem.
When you use a lot of different tools that aren't integrated well with one another, your developers might not have the resources to build custom integrations and automate tasks for you. Another problem is that you might be suffering from a staff shortage in cybersecurity. Or maybe your security team seems to be overwhelmed with handling security tasks manually.
As a result, you're simply not getting the full value out of all the resources in which you've invested. By introducing security automation, you'll allow your analysts to spend more on in-depth analysis and strategic involvement in the security procedures. You'll see increased returns on every single automation investment.
What is the difference between security automation and security orchestration?
These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they're not quite the same thing. Security automation and orchestration describe completely different purposes.
Security automation focuses on single tasks that follow an established path and automate it so they can run efficiently without any human intervention. Automation also helps to run operations more smoothly by making processes simpler and reducing the time it takes to identify and respond to security incidents.
Security orchestration takes into account the use of multiple automation solutions. It's a longer and more complex process. Orchestration helps organizations to connect many different tools their security teams are using and streamline the entire security process.
That's why orchestration is the driving force behind any security automation process. Why? When you link security tools and solutions together, the data between them can be shared. This means that your teams gain quicker and easier access to all the relevant intelligence for faster and smarter incident response.
Which security tasks can be automated?
Here are a few conditions your task needs to meet in order to be considered a good candidate for automation.
Repetitive, everyday tasks - The routine tasks that are carried out on a daily or regular basis are great candidates for automation. Examples include going through security alerts and analyzing them to find genuine alerts and potential threats.
Monotonous and burdensome tasks - Security tasks that always follow a similar set of rules might be too boring for your security team to execute. A good example is a security incident that involves a client email and the potential phishing attempts that required analysts to manually check URL, domain owner information, IP geolocation, and many other things.
Tasks that are time-consuming - Security tasks such as finding patterns and correlating data can take up a lot of time. Your team could use it instead to uncover suspicious activity before any real attack happens.
Practical tips for implementing security automation
1. Automate your infrastructure
By automating your infrastructure first, you'll build an environment that is ready to scale together with your business as it grows. And it doesn't when you plan on automating security. Automating infrastructure elements should take place early on. Make sure to continuously improve your processes – this how you stand to make the most out of automation efforts.
2. Find good candidates for automation
The tasks that require automation are ones that address the most important potential security incidents. You need to know from which sources or activities most of your incidents occur and what the most time-consuming tasks involving your security team are.
As we mentioned before, it's a good idea to automate all the tasks that are repetitive and take up a lot of time of your human employees, such as:
alert collection and prioritization,
When doing that, focus on orchestration and centralizing your automation efforts across all the different departmental workloads.
3. Take part in an internal vendor review
Before turning over your precious data to a third-party vendor, carry out a thorough internal review to ensure that you're making the right choice.
4. Restrict access to automated systems to your data
The behavior of automated systems has a direct impact on the security posture of your infrastructure. So limit access to it only to the essential employees and contractors.
5. Start with training
Before adding automation into your workflow, make sure that your security team is ready to take advantage of it. Develop a solid cybersecurity culture and train your team on the new approaches to cybersecurity, such as automation.
They need to know what exactly automation solutions do and where they leave off the work to human employees. Once you prioritize security alerts and send them for deeper analysis to the human side of the security team, the team needs to know about the existing policies to make sure that every incident is handled well - from the moment of detection to remediation.
Team up with an experienced provider
At Maxima Consulting, we have supported organizations on their path to automating security tasks for many years. We have the know-how and experience to help you identify the best candidates for automation and orchestrate all the tasks into one centralized ecosystem. We also carry out training sessions to help organizations make the most out of their investment into security automation.
Get in touch with us to learn more about how we help companies in your sector improve their security posture with automation.