Automation is one of the trending topics in cybersecurity. The primary reason for automating mundane and repeatable tasks is to allow people to shift focus to problem-solving activities.
From a cybersecurity point of view, organizations can become more resilient to cyber-attacks by created by directing all the resources to these problem-solving activities.
Technological advancements also bring with it more sophisticated malicious attackers. Therefore Cybersecurity programs must be prepared to adopt automated cybersecurity solutions.
Globally, enterprises seek methods to improve their efficiency and profitability – from their general activities like smart warehousing to automation and integration of IT and cybersecurity.
Integrating automation in an existing infrastructure comes in a variety of ways and requires various security automation tools. What do these tools entail? On what principles do they work? How are they incorporated into security systems? What’s the benefit of automation and integration to a business entity?
This article walks you through some of the basic concepts and ideologies that surround what might be the future of cybersecurity in the foreseeable future.
What is Cybersecurity Automation?
Today, there are numerous cybersecurity products designed to automate processes. You have likely implemented one or more of these tools within your organization. For instance, vulnerability management products such as anti-malware may be set up to scan and automatically detect BYODs on an organization’s system. These products identify cyber-threats and eliminate identified defects based on the security protocols outlined by the organization. When talking about adopting new best practices in automation, gurus in this industry are referring to security equipment like robotic process automation (RPA), customized software and code, and Security Orchestration Automation and Respons (SOAR) products that automate the sequence and perform analysis.
SOAR products have been designed to orchestrate activities between various security tools and, at the same time, execute specific automation activities in response to the identified vulnerabilities. On the other hand, RPA tools allow for the automation of a variety of processes. Custom-developed software’s and code is often leveraged for a specific challenge or niche that the organization cannot find an out of box tool. This is because they can automate all manner of analyses and efficiently synthesize data as per the given security regulations and standards.
All of the above mentioned new approaches interact with an organization’s tools to perform a comprehensive analysis, collect intelligence and either prompt an assigned team member to take action or perform an automated reaction to the processed data.
Why Venture into Cybersecurity Automation?
Sophistication and complexity aspect of network infrastructure is rapidly increasing as organizations increase their emphasis on migration towards digitalization. Digital transformations affect the very nature of work performed by the organization, the module on which they interact with their customers, their strategies to staying competitive within the industry, and their overall level of efficiency. The digitalization of enterprise network systems brings with it a new attack surface, which can significantly impact the organization negatively if not adequately defended, monitored, and responded to at the right time when threats emerge. From a corporate espionage perspective, it is of significance to understand the magnitude of vulnerability and threat exposure introduced into an organization as they move forward with an array of activities that aid with digital transformation.
Most organizations still rely on traditional methodologies while inspecting their systems for behavior abnormalities or threat indicators. This is a losing proposition in today’s organization set up and one which automation and integration of cybersecurity can help address. Concerning the growing digital footprint of the organization, ill-proportioned or lean Cybersecurity teams can be addressed by automation. Traditional tricks are quite inefficient as they entail a combination of large amounts of data, which are is managed by human beings who are prone to error. This leads to cracks that threats can still slip through. Implementing automation in an organization is an important and reliable mechanism to protect your enterprise and, at the same time, ensure maximum defense through repeatable and robust processes.
Benefit of Automation
Automation is more than just a fad or a technical buzzword, but a technological revolution that is changing our business platforms. Adopting automation in an organization gives the security team to focus more on more productive and complex activities. This implies that the machine can carry out the repeatable work. At the same time, the cybersecurity team devotes to more creative, critical, and technical work of resolving issues and improving the organization’s risk posture. After achieving a reliable automated cybersecurity system, security personnel can then focus on activities such as;
- Architecture and Engineering: a shift of technology to automation will enable the cybersecurity team to focus on the design and actualization of strategies such as cyber hygiene and zero-trust networks within an entity.
- Remediation Activities: after deficiencies have been identified, it is easy for the organization’s security team to identify the most repeatable activities within the businesses’ environment, hence leading to less vulnerability.
- Development and engineering of automation: automation is an integral part of the cybersecurity program and requires specially dedicated resources to be comprehensively designed and implemented.
Tools and Platforms used in automation of cybersecurity
Below are some of the platforms and process tools for cybersecurity. This article covers the benefit of each solution and how they improve efficiency, reducing production costs improving cyber effectiveness, and generally enhancing organizational processes.
Robotic Process Automation
The process of using to automate repetitive tasks either physically or virtually, is referred to as robotic process automation. Regarding security automation and cyber-space defense, it can be defined as assigning low-cognitive functions such as monitoring, scanning, and low-level incident response to be handled by automation. It allows one to be aware of, aggregate, and extract data while carrying out the basic threat search and detection process as well as other low cognitive activities.
Advantages of Integrating RPA into Your Enterprise
Implementing RPA has many benefits, both from compliance and logistical risk standpoints. First, it makes cyber-defense such an easy task to carry out as it eliminates the tasks of performing repetitive tasks physically. It also helps entities to reduce human interaction, one of the most significant vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. Whether accidental or intentional, people pose one of the most critical threats to the cyber wellbeing of businesses and organizations. Eliminating the human aspect, therefore, makes your stored data and information safer.
Below are some of how software robotics can help in reducing Cybersecurity vulnerability.
- RPA employs automated detection and alert response, which in turn leads to the reduced time taken for threat detection and feedback of response.
- RPA helps with the identification of exposed attack surfaces to mitigate security risks by helping in the application and device discovery.
- RPA helps to bridge the talent gap by filling in for the missing cybersecurity expertise.
- RPA eliminates the threat due to human factor while dealing with sensitive personal information.
- RPA provides proactive 24/7/365 security coverage, unlike human beings who tire or mentally clock out due to fatigue.
- Automation of software updates and rollout of patches are some of the features that RPA uses to improve security.
Besides, RPA helps your enterprise to stay compliant with rules and regulations such as PCI DSS or General Data Protection Regulation set by the European Union. For instance, RPA can be used to automate repetitive tasks such as notifications of data breach roll out of consent notifications, and collection of data and as well documentation of all the data that is held by your organization for audits. Therefore, why should one employ more employees to perform such repetitive and tedious work if they can be eliminated by RPA?
RPA offers numerous advantages to enterprises and other organizations. However, no organization should solely rely on RPA for more critical security operations that might require higher analytical and cognitive capabilities. Where there is a need for a more in-depth analysis, then an organization should adopt a mix of cognitive learning technologies and the intervention of human analysts.
The requirement by Google to encrypt its website resulted in the widespread adoption of SSL keys and certificates, which has created many dangerous blind spots.
Lack of transparency within your public key infrastructure and is one of the biggest security threats to your website and the success of your enterprise. Would you answer the following without any doubt if you were to be interviewed by a panel of cyber experts?
- How many SSL certificates were given to your enterprise, domains, and employees?
- What’s unique about the certificates?
- Did the same authority issue all the certificates, or did some originate from a different source?
- Who requested the certificates to be issued?
- How many keys are there within the business?
- Where is the storage facility for keys?
- Who is not, and who is allowed to access SSL keys?
From my guess, I can tell that you cannot affirmatively answer any of those questions. Shadow certificates can lead to data breaches and as well as substantial financial losses to an organization or at the worst collapse of the entire network. This also impacts your organization’s bottom line negatively in several ways; one, there’s lost revenues, lost customer trust, and various non-compliance fines and penalties. This is way too much loss for something you weren’t even aware of its existence in your system. Therefore, how can unknown certificates be kept from expiring? Yes, this is where cybersecurity and encryption of automation come into handy in the form of PKI certificate management.
Advantage of a Certificate Management Platform
Management platforms fitted with tools necessary for certificate delivery can be used in various functions other than website management tasks. It helps your organization point out every X.509 digital certificates found within your network despite the brand, issuance date, type, client certificates, IoT and device certificates, and TLS/SSL certificates. Sectigo Certificate Manager (SCM) is a perfect example of such a tool.
Some of the repetitive tasks that can be easily eliminated by these certificate management tools include tasks such as:
- Automation of renewal, issuance, revocation, and installation of management certificates
- Use of self-enrollment to automatically generate and create end users.
- Automatic notifications of 30, 60 and 90-day expiry certificates
My free advice is that you should take advantage of the modern certificate management solutions being offered in the market today to keep a proactive insight into your organization’s digital certificates. This Is a cheaper means than financially paying for the severe consequences such as lawsuits, fines by regulatory bodies, or even dent to brand’s image.
Event Management and SOAR
Gartner in 2017 defined the process of putting together various solutions to optimize the efficiency and capabilities of security as automation of security and response, on condition that the no human assets are tied to any low-level activities. SORE optimizes security automation, security response, and orchestration by enhancing operations automation, response to a security incident, and capabilities of managing vulnerabilities. This may sound more like a security incident and event management because there are many similarities between siem and soar. Both gather information from various sources, analyze and detect any abnormal activity within a network system. Although the two work together, they differ in the following aspects;
- SIEM is more manual and requires a physical response to notifications and frequent manual updates to technologies in use. However, SIEM’s are less effective at identifying unknown or new threats and are limited to identifying known threats.
- SOAR is relatively diverse on how it uses applications, takes in notifications, and automatically sends a response for remediation or triage when the need arises. SOAR relies on Artificial Intelligence and advanced cognitive technologies such as machine learning in the identification of vulnerabilities and threats within and outside the network.
Advantages of adopting SIEM and SOAR solutions for your organization
SOAR is fundamentally about eliminating processes, technology, and people within an enterprise to maximize their output and hence improving incident response and other related security operations. For instance, SOAR compliments SIEM capabilities in a security operations center by investing in than to add extra value.
Past researches have shown a drop by 50% to 70% on threat detection and response time, hence SOAR orchestration benefits the organization by preventing phishing attacks from being successful.
How to know whether SOAR solutions will benefit your organization or not;
Examine yourself with the following questions to accurately determine how the solution mentioned above will benefit your enterprise.
- Are you continuously encountered with ergonomic tasks that automation could eliminate?
- Is your security team fatigued with alert notifications?
- Are you literate and skilled enough to make sound decisions on matters related to cybersecurity?
- Are there processes in your organizations that could be improved automation?
If your to a majority of these questions is yes, then you should dedicate more time and balance between the advantages and disadvantages of adopting automated solutions for every process to identify its real value to your business.
Custom Automation Solution Development
Every organization is unique in one way or the other, and the needs widely vary across the various organization. Therefore, as much as the existing solutions may be of meaningful use, customization of the need-specific solution may still be of many benefits to an organization, if need be. Your security team can comfortably handle this if they are competent enough, or you can as well hand-it-off to a third party service provider.
What is Next? What does the future hold for us?
Automation is bound to change the future of cybersecurity. However, advancements in technology bring forth smarter cyber-experts in terms of software development and other code trick techniques. In the future, it can be predicted that cybersecurity programs may become more of an outlet shop where people go for various capabilities.
Steps on how to successfully adopt automation concepts
- Train and equip your cybersecurity with development capabilities so that they will report directly to cyber leadership.
- Develop an excellent interdepartmental relationship between the cybersecurity team with other departments within the organization.
- Adopt a hybrid approach. Use your core team to come up with tactics and techniques for developmental work, enhancement of organizational development goals, and the ability to carry out advanced integration activities.
As the complexity of technology continuously expands and evolves uniquely, the need for security automation and integration tools also continue to expand with the same degree. The future holds automation and integration as a significant element of organizations’ and businesses’ cybersecurity blueprint. Is your entity prepared to accommodate the inevitable change? And if not, what strategies will you use to keep up with the speed in this industry?
Joseph Ochieng’was born and raised in Kisumu, Kenya. He studied civil engineering as first degree and later on pursued bachelors in information technology from the technical university of Kenya. His educational background has given him the broad base from which to approach topics such as cybersecurity, civil and structural engineering. When he is not reading or writing about the various loopholes in cyber defense, the he is probably doing structural design or watching la Casa de Papel . You can connect with Joseph via twitter @engodundo or email him via [email protected] for email about new article releases”