Every organization wants to protect itself from cybersecurity threats – but the plain truth is that every organization now faces so many threats, each one capable of causing so much damage, that the human employees on your cybersecurity team cannot do this work themselves. To deliver truly effective security, they need to automate security functions as much as possible.

Why? Consider some disturbing statistics.

In 2020, 77 percent of organizations experienced bulk phishing attacks. Thirty-seven percent were hit by ransomware attacks. From 2020 and 2021, ransomware-related data leaks increased by 82 percent, and the average cost of a data breach increased from $4.24 million to $4.35 million.

The attacks are too numerous. The costs of failing to prevent them are too high. Hence the importance of security automation systems.

Security Automation and Its Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of security automation is that it eliminates many manual security processes, which reduces the burden on security teams. It also eliminates human errors that can increase the organization’s risk of attacks.

Automated security functions also improve threat detection (which decreases the probability of attacks), and accelerate incident response to minimize the damage when an attack does happen. According to IBM, automation also shortens the security breach lifecycle and can potentially decrease the cost of a breach by as much as $3.05 million.

7 Security Functions You Should Consider Automating

Today, automation platforms such as ZenGRC software empower organizations to automate many security functions. Here are seven functions you should automate in your organization.

Threat detection and response

The key to preventing attackers from carrying out their malicious objectives is to detect and respond to potential threats early. Automated threat detection and response (ADR) tools can tackle that threat investigation, validation, and remediation. They leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict, stop, and even prevent cyber threats; and often are more accurate at threat detection than human personnel.

Alert triaging

Security tools generate huge volumes of alerts when they detect threats, including a large number of false positives – that is, issues that seem to be threats, but actually aren’t. These fake alerts burden security teams because people still have to check each alert manually and determine whether a real threat exists.

Alert triage tools automatically assess and prioritize alerts to remove the need for human intervention. They also reduce false positives, which increases the efficiency of security operations and helps to strengthen enterprise cyber defenses.

Vulnerability scanning

As of October 2022, the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) contained almost 200,000 entries. Cybercriminals take advantage of these weaknesses in systems and software to attack organizations before a vendor releases a security patch.

Human security analysts cannot find or fix all security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by adversaries. That’s why automated vulnerability scanning is crucial. An automated vulnerability scanner can:

  • Identify and evaluate vulnerabilities based on severity and potential impact
  • Prioritize discovered vulnerabilities based on risk scores
  • Auto-generate reports with details of test cases, remediation suggestions, and the like

Ultimately, active and regular vulnerability scanning allows teams to incorporate security by design into the entire IT environment.

Incident response

Standardized incident response processes improve response times and minimize the potential damage of ransomware attacks, DoS attacks, and data breaches. With security automation platforms, security staff can construct and customize rule-based playbooks.

When a security incident is detected, these playbooks will auto-initiate actions to protect the organization, such as:

  • Delete malware-infected files
  • Quarantine infected endpoints
  • Block malicious URLs
  • Do a geolocation lookup on a suspicious IP address

Data encryption

Unencrypted data is always at risk of exfiltration or compromise. Automated tools apply end-to-end encryption to both data at rest and data in transit. The best tools use strong AES 256-bit keys to encrypt the data as it is loaded, as well as hierarchical key models and regular key rotation to assure ongoing encryption and security.

Encryption tools can also handle automated and continuous backups. So if a company ever experiences a ransomware attack, it can roll back quickly to the last encrypted backup, with minimal operational disruptions or downtime. More importantly, the company can ignore the attacker’s extortion demands.

Compliance and audits

Compliance automation tools are a subset of security automation, and are also useful for modern organizations. These tools provide automated compliance workflows, so companies can easily achieve compliance with relevant laws or regulations.

Some other compliance automation benefits include:

  • Keep track of changing regulations
  • Continually monitor the environment for violations
  • Streamline security compliance management
  • Implement required controls to reduce compliance risks
  • Generate automated audit reports for stakeholders

Automated deception

AI-powered deception technology can deploy decoy assets in the network to lure cybercriminals. If the attackers breach the network in pursuit of those decoys, the tool collects threat intelligence about them and raises a silent alarm. Security teams can then take appropriate action to address the threat.

Automated deception technology can be applied in all environments, even if they have blind spots, such as the perimeter, endpoints, Active Directory, IoT, and the cloud.

Make Security Automation Work for You with ZenGRC

Your security team is likely stretched to its limits trying to keep up with security threats and compliance requirements. In this situation, manual workflows, email communication, and spreadsheets are not your friend.

Reciprocity’s ZenGRC will help you replace time-consuming manual, repetitive tasks with automated workflows for evidence requests, control assessments, risk scoring, and treatment planning. Such automation will enable your team to work more efficiently and better protect the organization. ZenGRC will even automate evidence collection for compliance, audits, reporting, and more.