Businesses today struggle to achieve an adequate level of cybersecurity at a scale and price they desire. The shortage of skilled security professionals certainly doesn’t help.

One feasible solution to this conundrum: security automation systems. In this post we’ll explore exactly what those solutions are and how you can make them work for you.

What Are Security Automation Systems?

Security automation systems are software solutions that detect, investigate, and remediate common security breaches and internal cybersecurity threats. They can adapt to your organization’s unique security requirements, automating manual and repetitive tasks while contributing to your threat intelligence to help your IT team better plan for (and defend against) future attacks.

By leveraging the power of technology, these systems streamline and standardize crucial tasks to integrate security processes, applications, and infrastructure. This increases your company’s security agility and assures faster incident response – all with minimal human assistance.

How Security Automation Systems Work

As the name suggests, security automation systems automate various security tasks, such as vulnerability scanning, patch management, and compliance reporting. This reduces the workload on human teams and improves a company’s overall security posture.

While different security automation systems operate in different ways, in general they use a combination of algorithms and best practices based on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time.

An automated security system typically consists of three main components: data sources, analytical engines, and response mechanisms.

Data sources include security logs, network traffic, and endpoint information; they all provide security automation systems with the required information to identify and respond to security threats. These data sources feed information into the analytics engine, which uses machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies and potential security threats.

Once a threat is detected, the system triggers an appropriate response mechanism, such as quarantining the system, blocking traffic, or alerting security personnel. This assures that the threat doesn’t spread or cause more damage. (Ideally, it eradicates the threat from affected systems.)

This system can also use rules to understand whether the automated actions successfully mitigated the threat and then close the ticket – or, if not, to alert IT professionals with specific information about the ongoing incident to take further action.

In addition, security automation systems generate reports and analytics to provide valuable insights into your company’s security posture, identifying areas for improvement and enabling continual improvement.

What Security Systems Should be Automated

Security automation manages some of the most critical and tedious aspects of the security framework. Here are five security systems you may consider automating to improve your company’s cybersecurity posture.

Monitoring and detection

Security automation systems can provide greater visibility into every aspect of your IT environment in real-time while integrating identified vulnerabilities into a comprehensive view for ongoing monitoring.

Moreover, you can also have the systems monitor open source code in applications against vulnerability databases and then alert security teams of any newly detected vulnerabilities.

Threat investigation

After a vulnerability is identified, security automation systems can perform forensic work to identify the affected machines or nodes, the extent of the damage, and the vulnerabilities exploited. Compared to human security teams, these automated systems can work in far less time, allowing faster remediation and response.

Incidence response

Security automation systems can determine and execute prompt and effective responses to incidents, such as removing malware, installing patches, or deactivating a service to protect against new incidents.

Suppose your system is infected with malware. The automated solution will fetch forensic data, disable an infected network, and run vulnerability scans to identify and isolate other at-risk systems, effectively preventing further damage from the malware.

Permission management

Security automation systems allow you to automate permissions, including adding, modifying, or removing users and employees; this saves time, effort, and resources. Automation can also investigate host escalations, when needed, to prevent attackers from gaining unauthorized access to your system or network.

Application and business continuity

You can also automate security systems to apply IP blocking rules during a cyber attack (for example, distributed denial of service or DDoS) to prevent damage and allow the use of other IP addresses. This helps your systems and data to remain operational during and after the attack.

See also

Best Practice Guide: Using Automation to Transform Risk Management

What Are Security Automation Tools?

The following are the three main types of security automation tools.

1. Robotic process automation (RPA)

RPA technology focuses on automating low-level processes that don’t need intelligent analytics, such as vulnerability scanning, basic-level threat mitigation (for example, adding a firewall rule to block a malicious IP), and running monitoring tools. This category of security automation tools is basically a software “robot” that relies on mouse and keyboard commands to automate operations on a virtualized computer system.

One disadvantage is that RPA only performs rudimentary tasks. Don’t expect it to integrate with security tools and apply complex reasoning or analysis.

2. Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR)

SOAR systems are solutions stacks that allow organizations to collect data about security threats and respond to security incidents without human intervention. Any tool that can help define, prioritize, standardize, and automate incident response functions comes under this category of software automation solutions.

SOAR platforms can also orchestrate operations across multiple security tools, making them an excellent solution for automated vulnerability management and remediation. Use them to support automated security workflows, report creation, and policy execution.

3. Extended detection and response (XDR)

With advanced automation capabilities like machine learning-based detection, response orchestration, and correlation of related alerts and data, XDR technology is the more evolved version of endpoint detection and response (EDR) and network detection and response (NDR).

XDR platforms consolidate data from across your company’s security environment – endpoints, networks, and cloud systems – to identify anomalies hiding between security layers and silos. They can automatically gather telemetry data for an attack study, providing IT professionals with insights to investigate and respond to the incident.

Direct integrations with security tools mean XDR solutions can also execute automated responses to facilitate effective incident investigation and response.

Benefits of Automating Security Processes

By automating your company’s security processes and overall security posture, you can achieve several benefits.

Superior data protection and security

Information security automation can be especially beneficial to businesses that store user information and handle sensitive data (which, really, is almost every business these days).

An automated security system offers around-the-clock monitoring. This allows the business to catch data breaches relatively faster than an IT professional doing such reviews manually. Since there’s no human involvement, you also get an additional layer of privacy and protection, keeping sensitive data out of prying human eyes.

Streamlined operations with minimal human error

Automated security processes that consistently and accurately perform as intended mean you don’t have to worry about human negligence that may potentially weaken your company’s security posture. You can rest easy knowing your defenses are always secured according to company standards.

This is in sharp contrast to manual security, which relies on memory and regular maintenance of security architecture. This puts additional responsibility on your team, preventing team members from focusing on other, more crucial business activities to keep your organization safe from attackers.

Other benefits of security automation include streamlined processes and improved visibility into potential threats.

Faster incident response and threat detection

Automating security processes improves your organization’s incident response timing. With preset courses of action, you can automate threat prioritization and management. This reduces human intervention and reaction time, allowing you to address security issues without time-consuming manual effort.

Security automation also allows faster threat detection.

These advanced systems can easily detect threats such as phishing, malware, and endpoint vulnerabilities, so there’s no need for manual security audits to detect and remediate the same. This promptness helps limit the potential for a security incident and prevent additional damage.

Improved policy compliance

Automation provides a more efficient way to facilitate and enforce security compliance management.

By automating security tasks, you can free up resources that can be better spent on other compliance-related activities. You can also ensure all applicable policies are applied consistently across your organization, helping avoid potential gaps in coverage.

Lower alert fatigue

IT professionals often get overloaded with alerts of potential issues. This can lead to alert fatigue, with your team reaching a point where it cannot examine all the notifications.

Alert fatigue is a significant problem in cybersecurity. It only increases response time and decreases the quality of investigation, and a flood of alerts can make it challenging to identify and remediate critical security issues.

By automating security processes, you’ll have predefined protocols to perform cybersecurity duties accurately – to and forward the more critical ones to the appropriate response teams to ensure a timely response.

Effective threat prioritization

Another benefit of automated security mechanisms is that they can also prioritize threats according to risk level. By filtering out low-level risks through automated procedures, your IT team can focus on dealing with problems that require strategic evaluation.

This also reduces the time a vulnerability or risk remains live on your network.

Automated reporting and metric capabilities

Automated reporting eliminates the need for manually produced metrics. You can set up systems that allow your IT staff to pull reports on demand (or automatically on schedule), helping them receive reliable and timely metrics for each reporting period.

Many automated security solutions also provide reporting templates and customized report generation, further simplifying analytics.

Govern Your Security Systems With the ZenGRC

When protecting your ICT assets and sensitive data, you need both cybersecurity and information security – and the ZenGRC is your ticket to achieving just that.

ZenGRC enables information security and cybersecurity professionals to create a solid security program that allows you to:

  • Review your security stance through a centralized and integrated platform
  • Understand where risks and vulnerabilities exist and accordingly take remedial actions
  • Streamline risk assessments and identify critical threats to your information assets

In addition, a suite of intuitive tools and dashboards further improve risk management across your organization, drastically reducing the risks of cyber threats.

To learn more about how the RiskOptics ZenGRC Platform can guide your company to infosec and cybersecurity confidence, schedule a free demo today.

Automating GRC: The Next Frontier
in Risk Management