Automation and cybersecurity: help or hindrance?

Cybercrime is an ever-growing concern for businesses of all sizes and industries; it’s estimated to affect 5.28 million Americans every year, costing a total of $28 billion. Implementing modern digital security tools should therefore be one of the highest business priorities – and one of those is automation.

From artificial intelligence and machine learning, to IoT and digital twins, the role of automation in cybersecurity is changing faster than ever before. However, with so many new technologies on the market, it becomes difficult to parse which tools are right for your business, growing concerns about what this will mean for your overall cybersecurity posture going forward.

What are the risks of implementing cybersecurity automation? Will it make your business more vulnerable to malicious activity? Or can you use these new tools to better protect your data, systems and network from cyber threats?

What does automation mean for cybersecurity?

Automation, in general, is the use of software or hardware to perform a process without human intervention. It can be used across all aspects of cybersecurity operations, from the initial detection and analysis of threats to the recovery and restoration of systems once a breach has been detected.

Automated security operations can help to integrate security technologies and act as an overall security control center by linking different systems and processes together. This allows for a more holistic view of an organization’s security landscape, including the status of security controls and facilitates better collaboration between teams.

Cybersecurity automation tools can take the form of:

  • Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) products, like Microsoft Sentinel
  • Robotic process automation (RPA)
  • Software which automates processes and performs analyses

The key benefits of cybersecurity automation

When it comes to cybersecurity, automation can help organizations more efficiently defend against security threats, lower their total cost of ownership and improve their incident response time.

One of the biggest impacts of automation is it can speed up security processes and enable faster incident response times. The more manual processes are automated, the fewer steps there are to execute the process, which means less time to complete the same tasks. This, in turn, can lead to speedier detection and response times.

Automation can also help organizations reduce their risk of human error. Because security operations are often manual, there’s a risk that an operator can miss a critical step, which could lead to an error and even a security breach. Automating these processes means they’re executed the same way every time, so there’s less room for error.

The disadvantages of cybersecurity automation

One of the biggest challenges when dealing with cybersecurity is determining what is normal and what is abnormal behavior. As such, many cybersecurity solutions rely on anomaly detection algorithms to spot potential threats.

With too much automation and not enough staff oversight, you run the risk of false positives. You might have an automated tool which flags a certain type of traffic on your network and triggers an alert. But what if the traffic is normal for your organization? If the alert is sent to the wrong person, it may go ignored. This risks not only losing important information, but making your network less secure.

Furthermore, automation may not be able to handle situations which involve complex data sets or sudden changes in the environment. As a result, manual intervention may be required to ensure operations continue as normal despite unexpected conditions.

Automation in SIEM solutions

A security information and event management (SIEM) solution is a type of system which can be used to collect data. This can include information such as logs, network activity, application data, and more. SIEM and SOAR solutions automate the collection of data from multiple sources, perform deeper analysis and make it easier for security teams to respond to threats. They typically include tools for log monitoring, file integrity monitoring and alerting, among other features.

SIEM and SOAR solutions allow organizations to integrate their disparate cybersecurity tools into one centralized location. By bringing all of these tools into one place, it becomes easier to identify issues and respond to them more quickly.

However, it is important to remember this automation should not be relied on as the only means of responding to threats. Rather, it should be used to supplement the efforts of security analysts.

Is automation proactive or reactive in security operations?

Reactive automation will only react to incidents which have already happened. A sensor detects an anomaly and sends the event to an automation system. It then performs an action based on what the automation system has been programmed to do.

Proactive cybersecurity automation – like the aforementioned SIEM solutions – on the other hand, is intended to detect and stop threats before they can reach a computer or network. This type of automation is often achieved through machine learning algorithms, which can identify specific malicious activity and attempt to prevent it from occurring.

Is cybersecurity automation right for your business?

Cybersecurity operations can be highly complex as they involve monitoring, detecting and defending against a wide variety of threats, both known and unknown. With so many moving parts, organizations should think carefully about how they can automate their security operations in order to reap the greatest benefits.

The cybersecurity specialists at BCS365 can perform a full audit of your systems and advise you on the best cybersecurity automation tools to help defend your network and data. Talk to them today and ensure your business is fully protected.