Cyberattacks continue to plague enterprises, governments, and smaller businesses, affecting both traditional IT infrastructure (such as clients and servers) and modern systems (such as cloud, containers, and IoT/OT).
While attackers still use traditional tactics (because they work!), malicious activity is always evolving and affecting newer IT environments. Experts at Mandiant found that 25 percent of victim environments had more than one entrenched threat group.
Security teams often don’t have the resources to stay ahead of these threats – or even to rapidly and effectively respond to them. Organizations may not have visibility into their threat landscape and knowledge of malicious actors’ motives and tactics. This leads to unfocused cybersecurity programs, which often leave attack surface blind spots and poorly allocated investments. In essence, the enterprises both underspend and overspend on security at the same time.
[ Also read 3 technologies that boost organizational resilience. ]
One way to go is about investing – both money and time – in modern security automation tools like Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR). With more security automation, organizations can strengthen how they monitor, identify, and remediate against cyber threats, shifting threat detection away from dependence on overburdened security teams to a more seamless process. This also allows humans to define what the machines do while leaving the execution and toil to the robots.
Here are three ways that security automation can enhance infrastructure protection and how cloud providers are uniquely positioned to enable this.
1. Reducing human error
Driven by an industry-wide skills shortage, security teams today are strapped in terms of both resources and people. Those on the front lines continue to spend far too much time on repetitive manual tasks.
This creates a higher risk for human error – which some reports traced back to 95 percent of cybersecurity issues. Cloud misconfigurations caused by human error, like a recent one that exposed more than 1.5 million files, can be prevented by investing in the right analysis tools.
A major cloud provider recently found that almost 80 percent of security leaders and practitioners want to prioritize the implementation of security tools that automate more, and 74 percent are willing to spend more on tools if they reduce people working on manual tasks, such as disabling compromised accounts, freezing suspicious processes, etc.
By investing money and time in more security automation, teams can free up resources to focus on areas where human-led analysis is most needed and drive stronger protection to ultimately reduce risks driven by human error. Note that the needed investment does involve both money and time, as most automation tools (like SOAR) still require humans with specific skills to deploy and operationalize. Automation tools don’t remove people from the equation entirely, but they let people do the tasks that they excel at and have machines handle the rest.
2. Mitigating alert fatigue
Alert fatigue also remains a top concern across security teams. Security professionals are often inundated by too many alerts – which comes with deciphering which of those alerts are actually worthy of action.
Too many alerts can potentially cause those that matter the most to be overlooked. Overwhelmed security operations teams are tasked with navigating a flood of telemetry and alerts that lack relevant context, resulting in complex and lengthy processes for threat detection, investigation, and response.
To keep up with malicious actors, organizations can use security automation tools as a way to accelerate and streamline their threat investigation and response capabilities. Security operations teams responsible for threat detection are better equipped for success when there is greater context for alerts and signals. This means enriching alerts with the context the humans and systems need to make a decision on the alert.
3. Strengthening incident response capabilities
By alleviating human-centric challenges associated with alerts and errors, automation can ultimately equip teams to have better control over their incident response behavior. This improves both efficiency and accuracy of the response. Automation makes security processes faster, but it also makes them more consistent and measurable.
With more automation, organizations experience heightened transparency and consistent access to new data insights. This is because automation can help to collect and analyze data from a variety of sources, such as security logs, network traffic, and endpoint devices. This data can then be used to identify threats, vulnerabilities, and suspicious activity.
By implementing a well-architected modern cloud, security teams have access to tools that drive stronger data visibility and better threat monitoring. This then helps teams respond to detected threats with more context at a faster rate. In turn, they can ultimately eliminate threats in their entirety from the surface, enhancing their overall organizational protection.
Over time, defenders should seek to benefit from collaboration more than attackers do. Cybersecurity is a team sport – and enabling automation tools shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of an organization. The goal is open communication, knowledge sharing, and ultimately creating a more protected security posture that is driven by automation and improves over time.
By adopting security automation, organizations can enhance their overall cloud security - from detection to response. Automation has the power to help organizations stay ahead of cyber threats. By reducing human error, mitigating alert fatigue, and providing a stronger ability to respond to threats, automation is enabling faster threat response and strengthening overall infrastructure protection.
[ Learn the non-negotiable skills, technologies, and processes CIOs are leaning on to build resilience and agility in this HBR Analytic Services report: Pillars of resilient digital transformation: How CIOs are driving organizational agility. ]