Adopting Automation

Hackers Are Already Adopting Automation. Why Aren’t You?

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Cyber attacks are becoming faster, stealthier, and more numerous than ever before. Hackers are already becoming savvier and more apt to penetrate cyber defenses, and with the addition of automation to their arsenal, their attacks are more dangerous than ever before. And without the help of automation, SOCs are only going to get swallowed up by the surge of sophisticated cyber attacks.

In order to respond to sophisticated cyber attacks, SOC teams must transition from obsolete security methods to next-generation technologies that support automation, AI, and machine learning.

The importance of automation in modern SecOps

One of the few good things we can extract from the ruthlessness of modern cyber attacks is that they stimulate security engineers to think of advanced ways to combat those attacks. Problems inspire innovation, and one such innovation that revolutionized the way SOC teams operate is security automation.

Security automation is deemed a true game-changer. The benefits of automation are clear:

  • Time saved
  • Automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks
  • Improved threat hunting
  • Improved SOC performance
  • Preventing alert fatigue
  • Addressing the skill shortage issue

Technologies that support security automation – such as SOAR – have been created with the goal of prioritizing the response to security incidents, reducing false positives, and rapidly investigating alerts. The one thing you can’t afford during incident response is improvisation, so SOAR helps you continuously improve and test your Standard Operating Procedures.

Via security automation, SOC teams can successfully overcome some of the biggest problems, such as poor incident response time, alert fatigue, skill shortage, and too many time-consuming tasks.

Why automation must replace manual security operations

“Why change it if it works?”

This is the mindset embraced by most companies today, but that is changing.

Companies nowadays can’t afford to assess alerts in days or weeks. If they want to protect their data they must aim to assess alerts in minutes, because allowing attackers to have multiple days of interrupted exploitation time will result in catastrophic consequences.

Hackers have learned that by launching automated attacks they can target an organization and bombard them with thousands of alerts. This will overwhelm their security team and send them on a never-ending threat hunting quest, while the real threat infiltrates their system. The only way SOC teams stand a chance against such automated attacks is to fight fire with fire. Automation with automation.

By implementing progressive automation, analysts will find out which of the alerts are false positives and which are true threats. This will give them the edge to act in a preemptive rather than reactive manner. There are no downsides to automating repetitive, mundane, and time-consuming processes. This can only free more time for analysts to be able to track down challenging threats.

Accountability & complete staff preparation

One of the biggest misconceptions about modern cyber security technologies is that with the simple act of implementing inside an organization, the security posture of the company is going to drastically improve.

But the reality is that forward-thinking technologies such as SOAR, which offer security automation, only provide organizations with the means to improve their security posture. And in order to reap the benefits of such advanced technologies, companies need to recalibrate the way they approach cyber attacks.

Today, SOCs have to deal with thousands of alerts, most of which are false positives. And this means everyone inside the organization must be held accountable. The level of sophistication that cyber attacks have reached requires that every employee, not just the security professionals, are consciously aware of the danger these threats pose.

In many companies, nowadays, the general premise is that the SOC is the only one responsible for any damages that might be caused by cyber attacks. But the reality is that only when everyone inside your organization becomes aware of the gravity posed by vicious attacks, SOAR can effectively play its role as a security-enhancing tool.

Cybersecurity is not just a technology issue and the ones responsible for attacks are not just the cyber teams. And in order to avoid panic and stand a chance against sophisticated cyber attacks, it’s very important that other departments are ready as well and the accountability shared with other departments that are involved. But to do this you have to prepare your entire staff throughout the whole year and not just about phishing.

Boost the effects of automation through cyber attack simulation exercises

As the old adage goes, “It’s not a matter of IF but WHEN your organization is going to get breached.” So, in order not to avoid being caught off guard when an incident occurs, employees within an organization must be well-prepared for such scenarios, as they are bound to happen.

One of the best ways to prepare your employees for a cyber incident is by simulating cyber incident training exercises during the year. By reconstructing the events similar to a cyber attack, you will give your employees the chance to experience what it is like to respond to such an attack and thus boost their awareness and readiness. So when the time to actually respond to an attack comes, they’ll know how to launch a proper response.

The cyber attack simulation exercises ultimately allow your employees to experience the same level of duress as in the case of a real cyber attack. The goal of these simulations is to:

  • Improve the security awareness among all employees, not just security professionals
  • Enhance the ability of all employees to recognize potentially harmful irregularities
  • Boost the level of communication between all departments
  • Structure the correct incident response plan by assigning the right accountability

It is also useful to rely on the intelligence of cyber security knowledge hubs, such as MITRE ATT&CK that provide adversary tactics, guides, and techniques from real-world examples and help them learn which are the strengths and weaknesses of their security techniques and improve the incident and response plan.

Once the right incident response strategies are in place, the benefits of automation will exponentially grow and allow SOCs to launch faster and more effective incident response initiatives.

Author: Enrico Benzoni is the Marketing and Technology Alliances Director at DFLabs. Cyber security industry enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in Marketing and Business Development. Responsible for managing, executing, and expanding the Marketing and Technology Alliances initiatives.”

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