Last updated at Thu, 20 Sep 2018 15:10:34 GMT

Security automation is the talk of the town these days, but you might still be asking some big questions with regards to this topic, including:

  • Is it right for my organization?
  • When will we be ready for it?
  • How can we be sure we’re using it to its fullest?

In this post, we’ll give you some food for thought so that you can understand why automation is so valuable to SOCs today, and how you can effectively implement it within your organization.

Why SOC Automation? Why Now?

First things first: automation doesn’t mean you or your team will be put out of a job. It’s a busy time to be in security, and automation can only make each of us more efficient and effective at our jobs. With that covered, let’s dive into what else it can offer.

Decreased Time to Resolution

Time to resolution (TTR) is one of the most important metrics SOCs are measured on today. By automating the tasks that bog your SOC down (e.g. routine phishing investigations, user deprovisioning, credential containment, etc.), your response time will naturally decrease.

Solve for the Security Talent Gap

No company is immune to the current widespread security talent gap. To compensate, automation can make your team more efficient and resilient. When you automate many of tasks your SOC handles on a daily basis, you can optimize the value of each of your team members and decrease the rush to hire so that you can focus on finding the right person, at the right time, and within your budget.

Combat Alert Fatigue

Alert fatigue is a living, breathing problem for SOCs of all sizes. With security tools pumping out hundreds, or potentially thousands, of alerts every day, SOCs can quickly become fatigued, if not numb, to alerts. By automating alert investigations and escalations, your team will no longer need to sit in the weeds dealing with alerts all day.

Operations Optimization

People, tools, and processes are the three main ingredients of any SOC. The best way to tie them all together is with integrations and workflows. However, these can be difficult (and expensive) for SOCs to build on their own. With automation, you can leverage integrations that bring together your people, tools, and processes, driving efficiencies across your entire SOC and extracting the full value of all of your resources.

Serious ROI

The cost of manual security operations can be quite expensive, especially if you and your team spend a majority of your time manually handling security events and incidents. By adding automation to the equation, human time can now be refocused to more high-value tasks, providing a serious ROI on your automation investment.

If even one of the above reasons strikes a chord with you, chances are it’s time to bring in automation. To ensure the implementation of automation goes off without a hitch, here are a few best practices we recommend to all companies to get the most out of automation and benefit from it right away.

Three Best Practices for Implementing SOC Automation

1. Automate the Right Processes

Working in a SOC can be draining. With large volumes of alerts to manage each day, along with a big to-do list of other critical tasks, many teams are feeling frustrated, burnt out, and ineffective at catching and mitigating threats.

When considering automation, the first step is to determine the right processes to automate. But how do you even know if a process is a good candidate for automation? In our free eBook, Security Automation Best Practices, we discuss this very topic.

We also have a post on the top 5 security processes to automate with easy wins for you to get started with.

The best processes to automate have:

  • The right tools in place, with available APIs
  • A set of tasks that are well-defined
  • Easily repeatable tasks that involve little human intervention

We even provide a checklist at the end of the eBook to help you determine if your security processes are ripe for automation. In short, if you and your team are spending a ton of time on low-value tasks that are repetitive, you’re a prime candidate for automation.

However, when considering automation vs. human input, not every process can be fully automated end-to-end. And that’s okay. With SOC automation, you can streamline the repetitive and tedious tasks, leaving room for human intervention at the right time in the process or freeing up time for analysts to focus on other high-value security processes.

Which leads into the next SOC automation best practice...

2. Designate Human vs. Machine Tasks

Your team is great at a lot of things, but one thing they’re not perfect at is perfection — especially when moving from system-to-system, copying and pasting data points. Oh, and under a time crunch, too. In this scenario, human error is nearly unavoidable. And if it happens at the wrong time or during a critical task, the consequences can be damaging.

As discussed in the first SOC automation best practice, machines are excellent at handling tedious and mundane tasks effectively; especially tasks like retrieving artifact intelligence, escalating alerts, notifying team members, and other repetitive tasks performed by security analysts. These are the tasks that are best suited for automation.

The more context-intensive and complex tasks, meanwhile, are best handled by an actual person. A few examples include:

  • Correlating context and insight across many different datasets
  • Reverse engineering complex artifacts (e.g. malware, ransomware, etc.)
  • Handling highly sensitive systems (e.g. assigning Windows drivers)

Automating the low-hanging fruit allows security professionals to focus on context-necessary tasks. This separation of duties will ensure processes go off without a hitch, that no task is left behind, and that your team is always working on the highest-value and most rewarding work.

3. Empower Your Team

You’ve probably thought about automating many different security processes throughout the years. But the biggest thing holding you back from doing so is that automation requires having coding skills — or does it?

Using a security orchestration and automation solution like InsightConnect, all of the coding and development work is done for you. With a visual workflow builder and libraries of pre-built integrations, any SOC team member can implement an automated workflow with little to no code necessary.

This can empower you and your team to become more efficient and strategic, and your SOC to be fully equipped to get more done faster, even in the face of a talent shortage.

SOC Automation Drives Operational Efficiencies

SOC automation means you can optimize both your computing and human resources. Tightly integrated, your people and tools can get more done and with minimal errors. This could be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps your SOC become more proactive.

Freed from having to conduct the same tasks over and over, your team can put their real skills to work, with machines at their side delivering the information they need to know when they need to know it.

For a step-by-step guide on getting started with SOC automation, check out this free guide.