Nowadays, there is an app for everything. Why? Because we want things to be simple, intuitive, easy to operate, and at our disposal 24/7. This has led to incredible advances in automation practices. Almost everything is on auto-pilot in the present. Most services and most menial tasks. The same can be said for cybersecurity. Today, security operation center automation or Automated SOC is a growing field — But what exactly does it entail? What is SOC Automation? And, is it really such a good thing? Let’s dig in and give you some answers to these questions.
What does Security Operation Center Automation Mean?
Upon detecting malicious activity, a SOC team typically runs through the following 3 phases, these compromise the incident response process:
Normally, your team would manually run each of these responses. What SOC automation does is that it uses an advanced algorithm, AI, to immediately and without the need of human supervision take action and start manufacturing a defense and attack plan.
Millions of things can be automated as far as your SOC team is concerned and in many cases, your cybersecurity experts have already implemented them. Factors and actions like:
- Alert enrichment
- Action taken once an alert or red flag is detected.
- Integral and more in-depth analysis.
Automation as far as SOC is concerned, can be summed up by the way the algorithm – coded and designed by your team – is configured to react. If “A” happens, “B” should automatically take place. In the purity community, the phrase most often passed on from department head to department head is:
“Automate everything you can.”
That’s the trend. Everyone benefits from automation, even a SOC team. Nevertheless, automated SOC has its pros and its cons, and sometimes the disadvantages outright the benefits it might bring to your organization.
Benefits of SOC Automation
Modern life has generally already taught us the benefits of automation. Just think back to your day-to-day and count how many things you’ve handed down to robots or apps, things that used to take up time and are now being performed seamlessly in an automated way. Paying and sending out invoices. Getting reminders for events we want to attend. Ordering up a grocery. Getting an alert when an article has just been written about a topic you like. Investing in the stock market. There are dozens of things we constantly automate.
In cybersecurity, SOC automation takes some of the pressure and workload away from the operators and hands it over to a, well, robot — after all, that’s one of the major breaks and advantages of the Industrial Revolution and now the Digital Revolution, machines can help us out.
Automation in SOC helps out in the following ways:
Better incident response time
An AI, an algorithm, a code, is better at spotting breaches. There’s no two ways about it. Why? Because they have better response times and can keep a digital eye on all your network, without distractions, and with both a panoramic as well as a microscopic view. Humans can only do so much, we’re as fast as our biology permits it, and our response times are limited by our brain’s capacity to react. AI doesn’t suffer those mortal problems. They adapt, and when they need to get faster, they simply update themselves or get more RAM speed. This means that they have faster response times.
SOC automation processes are more affordable and cheaper than a living, breathing cybersecurity team. Les personal, means fewer paychecks to write and hand out. Not only that, but due to the ability to construct everything within servers and computers, the AI, serving as SOC team, lives inside a tiny metal box — and sometimes, not even that, it lives and exists in the cloudless office space. In general, SOC automation saves up a lot of money when it comes to production and maintenance costs.
Faster Collection and Analysis Of Security Data
An efficient AI can recollect data faster, audit it and give your team a report on it than any flesh and bone human could.
“To err is human,” Alexander Pope said that in 1711 and he sort of hit the nail when it came to encapsulating the human experience. We make errors, machines rarely do.
Disadvantages of SOC Automation
The main disadvantage right now, when it comes to SOC automation tools is that they are still very much in their infancy. What does that mean? It simply means that we are still trying to adapt them to the current pace of many risks and we are still trying to work out all the kinks.
This translates to:
Limited Investigation Capabilities
Automated tools only know as much as you program them to know. They are, in a sense, limited by what you teach them. This means they have constraints when it comes to their investigative capabilities.
Lack Of Resources
Your automation process can only react and use the tools you programmed them to use. If they happen to come upon an unexpected problem or issue, then, sadly, they’ll stall and won’t respond with the same dynamic creativity and resources as a staff member.
Using SOC automation tools VS a manually managed SOC team
The truth is that there is no such thing as a manually managed SOC team. Good cyber security is when you employ all tools available — including technology, or automated services. An efficient SOC team will use and work with automated services and AI, in a way that both benefit from the other, in a symbiotic relationship. Automation services need good caregivers, good teachers, good people to teach them — there’s a reason why during the creation of AI there’s a stage called “machine learning.” The machine, the robot, the app, learns not only from the threat it avoids, the person who is employing it but from the team that trains it. In SOC automation’s case, from the Security Operations Team.