SOAR: Helping Maximize the Value of Your Security Team

Worldwide, organizations are significantly impacted by the existing security skills shortage, and things are only going to get worse. A Global Information Security Workforce Study from Cyber Safety and Education predicts a security staffing shortfall of 1.8 million by 2022. What’s more, the rapidly evolving security landscape requires a constantly growing arsenal of specialized security tools, each generating a high volume of alarms and requiring specific training to operate. Understaffed security operations centers (SOC) are left ill-equipped to handle the massive daily influx of alerts—many organizations report being able to investigate only 25 percent (or less) sufficiently—and are left vulnerable to staff burnout while increasing the risk of costly breaches.

So how can security operations (SecOps) teams hope to keep up, much less stop breaches proactively? The short answer: security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR).

Automation technologies, such as SOAR, increase operational efficiency within an organization’s SOC. Security teams become enabled to better leverage new tools to automate the repetitive and low-value parts of their jobs, which frees them to focus on threats that need immediate, expert attention.

SOAR creates a more streamlined method for detecting and responding to threats by better combining technical capabilities with existing people and processes. SOAR uses comprehensive integration to execute highly automated, complex incident response workflows, which delivers faster results and facilitates an adaptive defense. Built-in case management allows users to research, assess and perform additional relevant investigation from within a single use case. Finally, SOAR solutions are designed to implement multiple playbooks in response to a broad range of specific threats. These playbooks can be automated or set up for one-click execution from within the open case record to allow analysts to manage an incident response process without leaving the SOAR platform.

To dive in a bit deeper, here are five ways SOAR can maximize the value of your own security team:

  1. Improve security operations center management with standardized processes: Using a centralized SOC management system, your organization can better meet internal and regulatory compliance requirements while prioritizing and optimizing alert remediation.
  2. Increase efficacy with detailed metrics and KPI reporting: Instead of spending valuable time gathering and sorting through metrics and reports, analysts using a robust SOAR solution can generate standardized daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly reports, which include all documented and undocumented activity.
  3. Resolve security alerts proactively: When alarms and related data are being assessed at machine speeds, analysts have the bandwidth to gather evidence and relevant security event context proactively, allowing for improved investigation, faster decision-making and better breach prevention.
  4. Enhance and improve incident response with threat intelligence: Consolidating all existing security tools into a single platform that identifies and addresses issues automatically optimizes your threat intelligence workflow, allowing your organization to react faster and more intelligently to all types of threats and stop potential breaches.
  5. Power orchestration with automation: Orchestration improves your organization’s security processes by making your existing resources work together. Analysts are empowered to move beyond reactionary models and be more proactive when defending your organization by implementing sophisticated defense strategies with comprehensive data gathering, UI standardization and workflow analysis.

Put simply, SOAR’s main benefit to a SOC is that it automates and orchestrates repetitive, time-consuming tasks without requiring human interaction. What’s more, when integrated with the security team’s existing tools, including security information and event management (SIEM), SOAR improves mean time to resolution (MTTR). Analysts are empowered to use their skills on more complicated investigations and proactive threat hunting instead of the tedious, manual labor typically required after being inundated with alerts.

SOAR helps security professionals focus on critical areas to investigate and remediate threats with greater efficacy. Relieving SecOps staff from a significant part of the manual burden tied to traditional incident response allows them more time to focus on proactive security work—including threat hunting—instead of constantly swatting at a never-ending stream of alarms.

Empowering security engineers and analysts to use their specialized skills effectively not only limits your company’s risk for a breach but also has a critical side benefit of increasing staff satisfaction. Automation both increases your SecOps team’s productivity and makes it easier to retain them when they’re inevitably met with other job offers in a highly competitive market.

As the overhead required to perform information security continues to grow, filling the demand for qualified and experienced cybersecurity staff will continue to be a significant challenge for organizations. Optimizing your incident response processes by streamlining workflows, automating unnecessary tasks and freeing up SecOps staff to perform more expert-level work allows you to improve the efficacy and value of your SOC—even during a staffing shortage.

Cody Cornell

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Cody Cornell

Cody is responsible for the strategic direction of Swimlane and the development of our security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platform. At Swimlane we advocate for the open exchange of security information and deep technology integration, that maximizes the value customers receive from their investments in security operations technology and people. Collaborating with industry-leading technology vendors, we work to identify opportunities to streamline and automate security activities saving customer operational costs and reducing risk.

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