Process Automation and Cybersecurity

Process automation is often seen as a good investment both to improve productivity and to support existing workers when hiring additional talent isn’t possible.

However, automating processes can have drawbacks – there are unique cybersecurity requirements businesses must consider before widely implementing these systems. Cybersecurity must become an essential investment for businesses that rely heavily on automation or that plan to adopt these systems in the future.

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How Automation Can Create new Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

In some cases, automating processes may introduce new security risks by changing how data is stored or requiring businesses to adopt smart devices that may be vulnerable to attack. For example, in manufacturing, the use of edge computing may dangerously consolidate data in a way that makes it more accessible to attackers.

Integration of the internet of things (IoT) and automated manufacturing systems, like smart sensors and actuators, allows businesses to remotely control or monitor essential machinery. However, this technology may also expand the attack surface the company needs to protect.

Process automation may mean connecting operational technology (OT) that has traditionally been air gapped—or that otherwise was hard to access—directly to the internet. This connection can have significant benefits, but it may also mean that IT and OT workers will need to collaborate on cybersecurity. Otherwise, OT could be vulnerable to cyberattackers.

Developing a cybersecurity plan that involves regular security patches, backing up systems and incident reporting can help businesses that rely on automation keep their networks safe.

Automate and Improve Cybersecurity

There’s reason to believe that automation can help businesses become more secure. This is especially true when companies use it to make their cybersecurity processes more efficient.

Some experts believe automation may actually be essential for businesses that want to develop effective cybersecurity programs. As Forbes said, cybersecurity without automation is like “bringing a knife to a gunfight.”

Automating cybersecurity processes may help businesses offset some of the risks that may come with automated systems. It can provide significant benefits, like those offered by robotic process automation (RPA) for administrative tasks—think generating invoices, creating documentation, organizing emails or handling payroll.

Many of these tasks are often dull or repetitive. They don’t require creative thinking or problem-solving skills, but they are essential for running a business. If not automated, these tasks will eat up a significant amount of employees’ time, drive down their job satisfaction and even make them less engaged when it comes to other, more interesting tasks.

Automating administrative work can come with other significant benefits. For example, mechanizing payroll can simplify regulatory compliance, as it may be possible to automatically report information or create important documentation.

Automation in Cybersecurity: Use Cases

Cybersecurity professionals may benefit from the automation of rote work in the same way. For example, a team may automate incident response, data management and app security. It may also use automation to simulate attacks and perform penetration testing on their defenses.

RPA tools and more advanced automation solutions that leverage AI may help the team automate rote work. This may even help businesses manage the higher cybersecurity workload that can come with automation elsewhere in the company.

Highly skilled workers that are left to complete the same repetitive tasks may become disengaged or even begin to burn out at work. Many cybersecurity professionals already work long hours due to the growing talent gap. Repetitious work could accelerate their field’s burnout crisis and have a detrimental impact on an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Disengaged cybersecurity professionals are also likely to become less productive and attentivemeaning they may miss unusual security events or vulnerabilities that they would typically catch. Automation can improve company safety directly and indirectly by helping employees perform their essential tasks more effectively.

Automation is Key to Effective Security

Automation can help businesses become more efficient and manage repetitive work, but some systems may have significant security drawbacks. Companies will need to address these issues as automation becomes a more important investment.

At the same time, automating cybersecurity work can make businesses better equipped to handle the risks that may come with mechanizing other nonsecurity processes.

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Devin Partida

Devin is editor-in-chief of ReHack Magazine at ReHack.com. Devin is especially interested in projects related to technology, startups, women in tech, the IoT and data security.

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