What is Security Automation?

What is Security Automation?

Security automation is the integration of security processes, applications, and infrastructure to automate security-related tasks. Security automation helps IT and security teams protect organizations at scale and frees up valuable human resources to focus on high-priority tasks by minimizing the need for human intervention. In addition, security automation reduces errors and increases operational efficiency.

Activities performed with security automation include:

Importance of Security Automation

It is not possible for human teams to manage the expanding attack surface, nor process the volume of data and alerts produced by security systems. Security automation tools handle the vetting and remediation of the majority of these and leave security operations teams to the still monumental task of responding to priority risks.

Benefits of Security Automation

  • Fewer data breaches
  • Improve mean-time-to-patch (MTTP) and mean-time-to respond (MTTR)
  • Improved productivity, agility, and overall security operations efficiency
  • Reduction of security operations fatigue
  • Expedited time-to-action for incident response and remediation
  • Faster cycle times across operations, network, storage, architecture, and security teams

Security Automation Tools

There are many security automation tools available to meet the needs of organizations of all types and sizes. Some tools such as Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) are focused on monitoring and managing attacks in the event of a breach. Other tools such as Unified Asset Inventory, Risk-based Vulnerability Management and Cyber Risk Quantification automate processes to prevent a breach. Following are a few examples of these and other security automation solutions.

Cyber Risk Quantification (CRQ)

Cyber risk quantification automates the collection, calculation, and reporting of cyber risk information in monetary terms giving CISOs, senior executives and board members a financial approach to managing cyber risks.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

XDR solutions consolidate data from across the security environment, including endpoints, networks, and cloud systems, to identify hard-to-detect risks, threats, and attacks. It automates the compilation of telemetry data to facilitate analysts’ work investigating and remediating incidents. In addition, XDR can integrate with security tools to enable automated responses. XDR security automation capabilities include:

  • Centralized user interface (UI)
  • Correlation of related alerts and data
  • Improvement over time
  • Machine learning-based detection
  • Response orchestration

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM solutions collect, aggregate, and analyze security data from across an organization’s IT environment (e.g., firewall logs, database logs), then normalize the data into a common format. These solutions also provide context for detecting and responding to cybersecurity threats and correlate different events to identify risks and patterns.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

SOAR systems allow organizations to collect data about security threats and respond to incidents without human intervention. These systems orchestrate operations across multiple security tools to support automated security workflows, policy execution, and report automation. They can also be used to automate vulnerability management and remediation.

Unified Asset Inventory

Unified asset inventory solutions automatically and continuously monitor enterprises to discover, identify and categorize assets including – devices, apps, and services; managed and unmanaged; on-prem and cloud; fixed and mobile; and IoT.  Conflicting and duplicate data is cleaned and merged automatically then enhanced with relevant business context to help security teams gain greater visibility into protecting assets that matter.

Risk-based Vulnerability Management

Risk-based vulnerability management tools automatically ingest vulnerability data from existing security tools and add business context to prioritize vulnerabilities and calculate overall risk. The tool also provides granular remediation instructions so security teams and other stakeholders can respond faster, reduce MTTP and mean time to respond (MTTR).

Why Automate Security Processes?

Security automation becomes a necessity as infrastructure and networks grow to a size and complexity that it becomes impractical, if not impossible, for people to manage related processes manually. With security automation, machines and software can handle many processes more effectively and efficiently, leaving human resources to focus their efforts where they add more value. In a number of cases, security automation tools perform better than people.

Security Automation Best Practices

Take time upfront to plan

Security automation requires a thorough assessment of the current situation to identify areas that could most benefit from automation. Walk through the processes that will be automated and determine the best way to roll out the new systems, including when and how transitions occur between people and machines.

Monitor, test, and measure

Throughout the process of deploying and working with security automation, continuously monitor, test, and measure to ensure that objectives are being met as well as to optimize systems and processes

Incorporate training into the rollout

As part of the security automation deployment plan, include training for the teams that will manage the new systems and those who will consume the output. This ensures that handoffs between machines and humans are smooth and effective.

Restrict access

Limit access to automated systems to essential employees and contractors.

Leverage the power of security automation

Move as much manual work to automated systems as possible, using tools to collect and correlate information and people to interpret key findings.

Optimize Valuable Resources with Security Automation

Security automation is one of the most effective ways to get the most out of increasingly scarce security experts. And, in many cases, security automation tools perform better and faster than people. Integrating security automation into IT and security programs consistently delivers an outsized return on investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is security automation?

Security automation integrates security processes, applications, and infrastructure to minimize the need for human intervention. Common security tasks that are automated include detecting, monitoring, and remediating cyber threats and risks. Security automation also does most of these tasks better and faster than people.

What security processes can be automated?

Among the many security processes that can be automated with machines and software are:

Why is security automation important?

Security automation has become an important part of IT operations, because it is able to perform a number of tasks faster and more effectively than people. Also, with security staff becoming more and more difficult to find, security automation removes the need for human intervention in many resource-intensive tasks.

How do security automation and orchestration differ?

Security orchestration refers to the integration of security tools and different security systems to streamline processes by enabling the coordination and flow of data and tasks. Security automation is the use of machines and software in place of people. When combined, security orchestration and security automation can:

  • Reduce overall risk
  • Expedite incident responses
  • Minimize security operations fatigue
  • Save time and money

Recommended Resources

Cyber Risk Quantification: A CISO Executive Guide
How to Calculate your Enterprise’s Breach Risk
9 Slides Every CISO Must Use in Their Board Presentation
9 Slides Every CISO Must Use in Their 2024 Board Presentation
Oerlikon case study
Case Study
Oerlikon Reduces Patch Time and Improves Management-Level Cyber Risk Visibility