Last updated at Thu, 14 Dec 2023 13:56:58 GMT

As security and IT teams become more resource- and time-constrained, hunting threats becomes more difficult. New research even shows that cybercriminals spend an average of 191 days inside a network before being discovered. With new vulnerabilities and attacks cropping up constantly, this is a big problem, especially when it comes to prioritizing what to focus on.

Threat hunting is a time-consuming task that requires a highly technical skillset, and according to a recent SANS Institute study, only one-third of organizations have staff dedicated to threat hunting. As we explain in our Security Orchestration and Automation (SOAR) Playbook, automating threat hunting processes—such as identifying suspicious malware, domains, and other indicators of compromise (IoCs)—can free up your team to tackle the most critical threats, faster. It lowers the barrier to hunting and helps you identify and prioritize true threats before they impact your network.

Here are four ways security orchestration and automation tools can streamline the threat hunting process:

1. Keep all eyes on your environment

When it comes to cloud and hybrid environments, managing an unbounded and complex IT system is, well, complicated. It either comes with the high cost of personnel dedicated to manual monitoring, or you risk missing important alerts due to sheer volume and lack of processes. Leveraging SOAR, you can bypass the cyclical pileup of new security events by automating workflows to handle repetitive tasks without unnecessary human involvement. Tasks like routine patches and password updates are ideal candidates for automation that can accelerate your threat hunting program.

With SOAR solutions like Rapid7’s InsightConnect, you can designate certain tasks to be automated while setting strategic human decision points along the way to ensure you’re in the loop and making the critical decisions.

2. Operationalize disparate data sets

The more data sets you’re able to analyze, the more proactive you can be at searching for compromises. When done manually, however, this can be an overwhelming task that can quickly lead to burnout. Today, companies are producing more data than ever before, meaning security teams need the ability to keep up and analyze it to ensure suspicious activity doesn’t fly under the radar.

With SOAR solutions, you can add data sets to be analyzed continuously without adding time to your hunt cycle. This can reduce time-intensive processes down to seconds or minutes, while ensuring every piece of data is scanned and you are notified the moment anomalous activity is detected. Even as your organization grows in size and complexity, SOAR can easily adapt by ingesting new tools and data sets.

3. Automate repeatable tasks

Ask any threat hunting professional about the tasks they perform on a daily basis and chances are they’ll say a majority of them could be automated to free up their time for what they do best: finding and responding to serious threats. Unfortunately, with so much time dedicated to ongoing tasks like recurring scans, there is little time to actually respond.

Leveraging SOAR tools, you can select the most repetitive and time-consuming processes for automation, allowing your team to shift its focus to more valuable and interesting work while speeding up time-to-response. Companies often find that just by shifting focus, their employees could see higher job satisfaction, leading to higher retention, which is a huge edge in today’s competitive security market.

4. Jump into action faster

Not only can SOAR streamline monitoring, investigating, and alerting, it can also create and kick-off response workflows based on the type of threat discovered. Orchestration and automation ensures that the exact protocol is followed every time, and it gives stakeholders visibility throughout the entire process. This ensures that no task slips through the cracks and no key stakeholders are left in the dark, two issues that plague nearly every company.

Getting started with security orchestration and automation

Security orchestration and automation is designed to help teams improve their security posture and create efficiency—without sacrificing control of important security and IT processes. Our new SOAR Playbook highlights common use cases for security orchestration and automation, including threat hunting, as well as example workflows and plug-ins to help you envision the role SOAR could play in your security operations.