In today's hectic environment, SOC teams are typically overworked and under immense stress. The center may be understaffed, lack sufficient funding, or have their contributions go unrecognized. They endure a constant barrage of alerts that consume large parts of their working hours. They are acutely aware that their organizations could suffer a ransomware attack, have valuable data stolen, or be the vector for a malware attack that spreads to customers and suppliers.
Daily life in an SOC involves a constant struggle to handle a massive number of alerts while simultaneously trying to find a way to gain even a tiny advantage over hackers. Every day, attackers are becoming more adept at breaching defenses, but they are also becoming more patient and sophisticated. Therefore, it is no wonder that many organizations are turning to automation to bolster their defenses. However, automation is not a one-size-fits-all blanket that can be spread over any organization to provide the best security possible.
Automating incident response and other cybersecurity measures requires having a clear, detailed plan in place before starting the automation process. Without a detailed map, automation becomes little more than idle wandering. With the right plan, however, automation becomes a journey that progresses logically through a series of defined points.
Initiating a Plan to Automate
Early in the planning stages, there are certain key questions that must be answered.
- What should be automated? Depending on the organization's security maturity stage, this could be threat hunting, incident response, alert triage, or any other aspect of cybersecurity.
- What are the priorities? Once the processes to be automated have been defined, it is easier to identify the organization's priorities. This planning is essential; it is normally better to take small steps toward automation rather than launch an all-encompassing, massive automation attempt that could prove overwhelming and fail to gain the full support of team members.
- What is needed for automation efforts? Personnel issues are often a stumbling block; either there are too few people or the current staff members lack the skills to handle automated processes successfully. Adding personnel may not be feasible, but it may be possible to secure training for current team members to bridge the skills gap. Funding can be a problem if the members of upper management are not supportive of automation efforts. Finally, it is likely that third-party vendors or suppliers will have to be located to supply the software and/or hardware required.
Points to Remember When Automating SOC Processes
When planning an automation strategy, ensuring proper alignment to and integration with the organization's strategic objectives is critical. Without alignment and integration, organizations run the risk of falling into the trap of automation for automation's sake. Business objectives have to be considered, and SOC automation should contribute to the successful attainment of those objectives.
Another important point to remember is that automation needs to be part of the organization's culture rather than a departmental fad. Data silos can cause enough trouble when trying to detect and remediate an attack, but information silos can be even more hazardous. Information must be coordinated across departments, locations, devices, endpoints, and ports. For example, suppose an endpoint receives an administrative login that is followed with a blocked outbound port and a stream of encrypted data from another port on the same endpoint. This activity could indicate a security breach, but if the information is not coordinated, there is a good chance that no one will notice that a breach has occurred. If the breach is eventually discovered, many days or even months could have passed.
With more organizations adopting bring-your-own-device policies, the threat surface has become even larger. Employees may use their mobile devices for both work and personal purposes, increasing the risk of an infected device. They may not be subject to any restrictions on using USB sticks or other removable storage devices on or off the network, which also increases the risk of infection. Automation can help with containment of new devices that are not meeting requirements. Without an effective automation plan, some devices, locations, or departments could remain in relative isolation. Suspicious activities or even blatant attacks might go unrecognized for far too long. However, automation can collect and collate data from various sources and react to any threats discovered — as long as everyone cooperates and is willing to allow the moats surrounding their domains to be bridged.
SOC automation and orchestration can allow the SOC to be a true command-and-control center for the security of the organization. Automation can provide complete visibility, triage events, connect the dots, and automate workflow processes. However, automation should never be done just for the sake of employing automation. It should be the result of a carefully thought-out, well-defined agenda that takes into consideration the organization's needs, goals, and strengths.
If you would like to learn more about SOC automation, contact Demisto. We developed the industry's first comprehensive platform designed to help SOC teams provide the protection that their organizations need.
Demisto's comprehensive platform for security operations can help your team reduce MTTR, detect and block threats in less time and reduce your MTTR. Our platform allows you to automate alert triage, track and manage incidents efficiently, automate your threat hunting and enhance real-time collaboration. Contact us today to learn the many ways that you can harness the power of Demisto to help you keep your organization more secure.