Security automation is an efficient and cost-effective way to protect your data resources from malicious cyber threat actors. The right tools require no human intervention for threat detection, analysis, and mitigation. This can be a massive advantage if your cybersecurity team is overwhelmed with huge alert volumes and if your information is at risk of serious breaches.

Security automation does a lot of the heavy lifting to secure your information assets and keep them safe from hackers, cybercriminals, and corporate espionage. Since the tools take care of alert investigations and incident response, security personnel can focus on higher-value security tasks to improve enterprise risk management and strengthen security defenses.

Why You Should Consider Data Security Automation

You may be collecting many different types of data to inform business decisions, guide marketing strategies, and understand customers – but are you protecting this valuable asset from threat actors? Is your information safe from phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks? Can your security team effectively secure your growing enterprise infrastructure?

Modern IT environments are immensely complicated, with interdependencies among numerous data resources. Cyber attackers take advantage of these complexities to launch sophisticated attacks against you.

As corporate IT environments become more complex and the attack surface expands, security teams have a harder time keeping everything secure. For example, “alert fatigue” is a common problem that arises because security employees are bombarded by more alerts than they can handle. To cope with the volume and manage their increasing workloads, employees either switch off some alerting features or ignore certain alert categories. Neither action does you any good.

Moreover, manual security activities result in slower threat detection and incident response. They also increase the possibility of negligence, which can cause human errors in resource configuration and policy application.

All these issues can leave your information systems vulnerable to attacks and breaches that can disrupt operations, reduce staff productivity, and harm your customer relationships and reputation.

Automation is a good way to deal with these problems. The right security automation tools can alleviate your security team’s burden, maximize the effectiveness of your security program, and also:

  • Streamline day-to-day security operations
  • Speed up threat remediation and incident response
  • Identify and address existing and emerging threats to data
  • Minimize the impact of a breach

Automation is also an effective way to integrate security considerations into the enterprise IT infrastructure, processes, devices, and applications. Tools based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Big Data technologies can improve your threat intelligence capabilities so you can intercept security threats before they damage enterprise data.

Data Security Automation: The Numbers Tell the Story

According to 2020 State of SecOps and Automation survey, 99 percent of organizations say that huge alert volumes are burdening their security teams. Another 93 percent are unable to address all alerts on the same day, increasing the risk of full-on attacks and breaches.

IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022 estimated that a fully deployed security automation program can reduce the cost of a data breach by $3.05 million and shorten the breach lifecycle by 74 days. Even partial automation can shorten the breach lifecycle from 323 days to 299 days.

Given those facts, it’s not surprising that 90 percent of security leaders believe automation is critical for effective threat management. Organizations are particularly keen on SOAR and XDR tools since those tools can shorten the data breach lifecycle by 29 days and reduce average breach costs by $400,000.

Signs that Your Organization May Need Data Security Automation

Your organization can benefit from automated security solutions if:

  • Your rely on data for operations, strategy, planning, product development, or decision-making
  • Data loss can harm business continuity, reputation, or competitive posture
  • You must comply with data security or privacy regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, or GDPR

You should also consider investing in automation tools to secure your data assets if you notice any of these signs in your organization:

  1. Alert volumes have increased and your security team can’t keep up

    Per one survey, 78 percent of security professionals said that they spent at least 10 minutes a day investigating one security alert. Multiply that time by the number of alerts they must investigate, and you get an idea of how much time employees spend on this one task.

    Another problem is that not all alerts are genuine threats, but your security team must still review each alert to determine whether it is a real threat or a false positive that can be safely ignored.

    The more alerts employees have to investigate, the more time they waste on repetitive tasks. If they ignore some alerts to manage their workload, they may ignore many real threats, increasing the risk of a breach.

    The bottom line: if alert volumes are increasing, or if you suspect that your security analysts are deliberately ignoring some alerts, consider adopting data security automation.

  2. The number of attacks against systems has increased

    Newer, more sophisticated threats are emerging every day. To stay ahead of new malware strains, zero-day vulnerabilities, supply chain attacks, and other threats, it’s important to update and patch all applications, software, and systems promptly.

    If the frequency of attacks against your enterprise systems has increased, your IT environment may not be patched with the latest security updates. Automated systems can check for outdated systems and then patch them, to close security gaps and minimize the possibility of a breach.

  3. Data access patterns have changed

    Remote and hybrid teams have changed the way enterprise data is accessed and used. Even so, unusual access patterns – say, outside regular working hours, or from a country where the organization doesn’t have operations – can indicate the presence of malicious threat actors.

    Sudden or recent accesses from unknown devices can also be a warning sign worth investigating, Of course, some of these signs may be false positives. So instead of making your security teams spend precious time on manual investigations, implement automation tools that will investigate and remediate genuine threats with the help of playbooks and automated workflows.

  4. A breach has occurred recently

    Data breaches are becoming increasingly common. According to the 2021 Thales Data Threat Report, 41 percent of organizations were breached in the previous 12 months. So if your organization has not suffered a breach, you are an outlier. But if you have been breached, consider deploying tools to scan the threat landscape automatically and address existing and potential threats as they emerge.

    The same Thales report also found that only 56 percent of companies know where their data is stored, which could indicate weak or non-existent data security controls. Don’t make this mistake. Security automation can help you understand where your data resides and act early to protect it from threat actors.

  5. You are losing control over (or visibility into) privileged accounts

    The misuse of privileged accounts is one of the most common causes of security breaches. In 2019, 74 percent of breaches started with privileged account abuse. This number remained fairly constant in 2021.

    Unauthorized users try to steal legitimate privileges and often use them to exfiltrate business-critical data. These users may be external cybercriminals, but they can also be internal users with a financial motive.

    So if a user suddenly accesses large amounts of sensitive or confidential data or has disabled security systems, that may indicate a breach. It’s vital to identify such behaviors early so you can take appropriate measures before the user accesses too much data. You should also implement controls so you always know who has what level of access and to what kind of data.

    Finally, regular audits of access credentials can reveal threats to privileged credentials or sensitive data. And all of this is easiest with the help of a security automation platform.

Strengthen Your Security Processes with ZenGRC

Have you noticed any of the above signs in your own organization? If so, now may be a great time to implement automation to shore up your data security environment and keep your data safe from cyber adversaries.

Start with Reciprocity’s Risk Observation, Assessment and Remediation (ZenGRC) platform. ZenGRC will help you see and understand where your data is at risk. It will also reveal actionable, contextual insights so you can act on the threats immediately before they devolve into serious security incidents.

Take advantage of ZenGRC’s built-in content library, automated workflows, and pre-built integrations to make smart decisions and safeguard your valuable data from adversaries. Get a demo to see ZenGRC in action.