Did you know that human error is a major contributing cause to 95% of cyber security breaches? Put differently, 19 out of 20 breaches wouldn’t happen without a manual error. You would think this would make the case for automation in cyber security. However, it isn’t as simple as that! Given the high stakes, automation in cyber security requires much deliberation.
As cyber security risks become more prevalent and dangerous, the debate on automation in cybersecurity is now more relevant than ever. Should you automate your security systems? What are the relevant use cases? And are there any limitations of automation in the cybersecurity context?
In this article, we look at the three main use cases of automation in cyber security and how it can help you detect and respond to potential threats, reducing the mitigation time. It also highlights the factors to consider while building a cybersecurity automation strategy.
Leveraging automation in Cybersecurity
Automated systems can process massive amounts of data in a short time and uncover patterns and vulnerabilities that may be difficult for humans to discover. You can use machine learning and artificial intelligence for this purpose.
Let’s look at some of the automation use cases in cybersecurity!
Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR): In a manual set, the Security Operations Centre (SOC) analyst verifies false positives and identifies suspicious IP addresses and domains using third-party tools.
SOAR systems help organizations automate repeated and tedious tasks such as threat intel and vulnerability enrichment, identity checks, and finding duplicate alerts.
SOAR tools allow organizations to define incident analysis and response procedures in a digital workflow format. This helps organizations maintain a centralized knowledge base to easily access contextual information for managing similar incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, solutions like UEBA (User and Entity Behaviour Analytics) automatically detect anomalies in corporate networks, routers, servers, and endpoints.
While implementing a SOAR solution, organizations must consult and involve the SOC teams and identify the improvement areas where automation would be beneficial. Implementing a SOAR solution without analyzing automation needs could add overhead expenses for one’s security operation setup.
Security testing for applications: With DevSecOps gaining prominence, organizations are now embedding security in the design phase instead of testing after the development. Automation plays a key role here, allowing you to test as you develop the software parallelly. This further helps identify programming errors timely, ensuring speed, accuracy, and security in software development.
However, while leveraging automation for testing, you should remember that the whole purpose of automated testing is to automate repetitive tasks of manual testing. It does not replace in-depth penetration tests and human insights and expertise.
You can automate repetitive tasks using tools like Burp Intruder, OWASP ZAP, and Veracode. Such tools also provide detailed structured reports for compliance, support, and management teams. Automated security testing is not to replace in-depth penetration tests but to enhance efficiency.
You can also use RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to make security testing faster and more efficient. One way to use bots in security automation is to have them classify the vulnerability/threat as per predefined categories.
Bots can then trigger security control measures based on predefined rules. If the remediation requires manual intervention, the bot can generate a summary report for security experts to understand the issue quickly. This helps increase the speed and efficiency of the penetration testing process.
When it comes to security testing for applications, we believe a hybrid approach works best. It ensures accuracy and efficiency at a lower cost.
Risk assessment and management: Manual processes often fail to provide a detailed picture of the security risks. You can remedy that using automated risk assessment tools to analyze data and patterns from various users, logs, and other entities to give a compact and comprehensive risk dashboard.
Risk dashboards help risk management teams prepare for security anomalies and make recommendations for mitigation. ROAR (Risk Observation, Assessment, and Remediation) is one such tool that helps visualize the security risks and, in the process, prepares you to plan for any potential security risks, thereby improving your strategic decision-making.
Automated risk assessments can be helpful; however, you must carry out proper due diligence before investing in these tools. Understanding if the tool meets your needs is crucial, as compliance norms vary from one organization to another. For instance, GDPR is more relevant for organizations operating in the European Union, whereas HIPPA would be more relevant for pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.
To automate or not to automate
Imagine a security incident where an automated tool is not prepared/trained to handle it. It would require a security professional to plan and execute an emergency response.
However, without the required background information, the professional would need time and information. This delays the response time and adds to the chaos. In some cases, the automated systems could have a partial response to a security threat, further complicating the entire situation.
Moreover, automated tools have limited flexibility, which is a cause of concern as flexibility is significant, considering the pace at which attack vectors are changing and hackers are upgrading themselves. High costs and efforts required for implementation and training are other factors to consider while evaluating automation in security systems.
A planned approach to automation in cybersecurity
We believe it’s best to take a hybrid approach that brings the best of both worlds. However, before beginning your ‘automation for cyber security’ journey, you must define the goals, use cases, and risks associated with automation.
Once you’ve assessed the risks and drafted a strategy, the next step is to identify and select the tools and technologies compatible with the existing systems. Before the rollout, you must integrate these data sources into your automation platform to enable effective decision-making and automated responses.
Continuous monitoring and learning, training, incident response automation, and threat intelligence integration are a few other factors that can help ensure the success of automated cybersecurity solutions.
Nagarro helps leading global organizations add the power of automation to their security systems. Are you, too, considering cybersecurity measures for your business?