Historically, information security relied heavily on human intervention – which was time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. No wonder businesses today are embracing automation technology to address their security needs and fight the constant threat of data breaches and cyberattacks.
Information security automation is a solid step in that direction.
By automating security-related tasks such as monitoring, threat detection, incidence response, and compliance, you can achieve a more robust approach to security and respond to threats quickly and efficiently.
This post digs deeper into information security automation and information security automation programs, and how you can use security tools to automate and standardize your business’s security operations.
What Is Information Security Automation?
Information security automation is the use of software and technology to streamline (and ideally automate) various audit and control processes and tasks within an organization. It can help any organization to:
- Enable assurance, risk, and advisory practices
- Standardize security processes
- Improve adherence to the latest security standards and best practices
With information security automation, you can better manage your systems and data to keep them protected against the latest threats and vulnerabilities, while reducing costs associated with security operations.
What Security Processes Can Be Automated?
Businesses can automate several security processes to improve information security within their organizations. For example:
1. Threat monitoring and detection
As your organization grows, so does its “attack surface” – more systems, users, and data all under threat. Manual monitoring and detection of those potential threats can become tedious and overwhelming. Security monitoring tools allow you to automate the watching and detection of potential threats, saving you time.
To further streamline the process, you could integrate all your security monitoring tools into a single command center. This centralization provides you with a comprehensive view of your IT environment’s security posture, helping your team to take remedial measures in near real-time.
2. Data enrichment
When your monitoring system issues an alert, you have to first determine whether the alert is a genuine threat. For example, in case of malware infections, your team would want to know which machine was first infected, what damage was done, and where else the attack went.
You can automate these investigations to understand the attack without human intervention. By using security orchestration and automation, you allow machines to conduct in-depth threat investigations, saving your team time and effort. Those employees can then focus on conducting deeper forensics and developing better protections to prevent similar threats from occurring in the future.
3. Incident response
Once an attack is verified, your next step should be to determine the appropriate response. The faster you respond, the less damage the targeted threat can do.
Consider automating your incident response to create and execute consistent, repeatable, and reliable response plans that save time and reduce the risk of human error. This can be anything from containing and removing malware, to deactivating a vulnerable IT service, to installing security patches to protect against new vulnerabilities.
Regardless of the type of attack, these automated systems ensure efficient and effective threat responses, reducing the window of opportunity for attackers to cause damage.
4. User permissions
Managing user permissions is critical for any organization, but it can also be cumbersome when done manually. With dozens of system logins for each user, it can take your team hours (or longer!) to add, modify, or remove access – especially if your organization is growing or shrinking rapidly.
Consider an insider threat. If a user escalates his or her permissions from a standard user to that of a system admin, you must act fast to investigate and prevent potential damage. Investigating such scenarios manually is laborious and time-consuming; by the time it’s complete, the damage may already be done.
Contrarily, automating the provisioning (or de-provisioning) of a user, investigating host escalations, and other user-related tasks can save time, effort, and resources. This ensures permissions are being granted (or revoked) promptly and accurately, reducing the risk of common security breaches.
5. Business continuity planning
Business continuity planning is essential to ensure your systems and data remain available and operational when cybercriminals strike. That said, achieving continuity can be challenging, especially during a cyber attack.
Automation enables business continuity planning, which in turn allows you to minimize service disruptions for customers. For instance, in case of a brute force attack where the attacker repeatedly enters login credentials to gain access to your systems, you can automate IP blocking rules telling your automation system to block the attacker, preventing them from getting in.
You could also automatically replicate instances of critical servers when a threat is detected. This way, your customers will still have access to the data they rely upon even if a cybercriminal manages to bypass your defenses and hack into your server.
How Does Automation Help Security?
Your networks grow in size and complexity as you scale operations. Add to this the shift to remote working, and it becomes even harder to track the ever-growing number of devices connected to your network.
This complex environment makes security compliance management increasingly difficult, leading to critical issues such as:
- Slower issue detection and remediation
- Resource configuration errors
- Inconsistent policy application
These issues can leave your system vulnerable to threats and compliance issues.
Unplanned and expensive downtime is another significant repercussion that reduces overall functionality, resulting in monetary losses and a breakdown of customer trust.
Automation helps you avoid these undesirable situations. Not only does it streamline daily operations; it also integrates security into your organization’s IT infrastructure, processes, cloud structures, and apps to prevent unauthorized access.
Benefits of Information Security Automation
Information security automation seeks to improve the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of your organization’s critical data and information system. Its primary benefits include:
Information security automation reduces the need for manual intervention, freeing up valuable time and resources that would otherwise be spent managing and monitoring security controls.
By automating routine tasks such as log analysis, threat detection, and incident response, your security team can focus on more strategic activities like threat hunting, threat intelligence, and vulnerability management. This leads to improved efficiency and productivity, helping reduce your organization’s costs and improve its bottom line.
Enhanced accuracy and consistency
By eliminating the human element from repetitive security tasks, automation reduces the chance of human error and ensures that all security controls are applied consistently. It also provides real-time monitoring and alerting, allowing security teams to respond to threats faster and prevent potential security breaches.
Simplified and consistent compliance
Achieving compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and ISO 27001 can be complex and time-consuming.
Automation tools simplify this task by consistently applying security controls and providing reports demonstrating compliance. This helps to avoid non-compliance and the fines, penalties, and reputational damage resulting from it.
You can also set up periodical automated compliance checks to identify and remediate security gaps before attackers exploit them.
Faster response times
Automated security systems can detect and respond to threats in real-time, reducing the total time taken to identify and mitigate cyber attacks. This helps to prevent or minimize the harm of a security breach, which improves the availability and integrity of your organization’s information systems.
By reducing the amount of time and effort required to perform routine tasks, automation lowers the cost of security operations. It also minimizes the potential harm of security incidents, reducing the cost associated with remediation and recovery.
The improved accuracy and effectiveness of security operations through automation also decrease the risk of data breaches and other security incidents that could result in costly legal and regulatory penalties.
Automate Your Cybersecurity with ZenGRC
RiskOptics’ automation platform simplifies the evaluation of external and internal cybersecurity threats, helping businesses implement the appropriate workflows to better meet their information security requirements.
ZenGRC can automate your organization’s security automation tasks across multiple frameworks, including PCI DSS, SOC, and HIPAA, among others. In addition, our intuitive dashboard provides real-time visibility into your organization’s cybersecurity posture, highlighting security gaps and tasks that require remediation, to further enhance information security.
This approach enables a stronger and more efficient cybersecurity risk management stance across your organization, empowering your security professionals and compliance officers to be more effective at their jobs.
Schedule a free demo to learn how our ZenGRC platform can automate your cybersecurity.