Akshat is the Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder at Cyware. A thought leader and a creative thinker, Akshat has immense expertise in bringing innovative technology solutions for tackling societal and enterprise problems. Akshat holds a Management degree from the most prestigious business school in India, IIM Lucknow, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the Central University of Hyderabad. Before Cyware, Akshat served as the Director of Programs at Oracle and was key to facilitating cloud ventures for Oracle Enterprise Manager. His earlier role at Adobe Systems also shaped the company’s core products to grow to a substantial scale and helped secure several patents in core technology domains.
Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving domain with new challenges every day as both the attackers and defenders continue to improve their capabilities. For cyber defenders, it is paramount that they have an edge over their adversaries at all times. Even when the attackers manage to sneak past existing defenses, the security teams must have the ability to respond swiftly and decisively to prevent them from achieving their malicious objectives. However, many organizations face operational hurdles and limitations in SecOps that can only be overcome with collaboration between the people, processes, and technologies involved in it.
The uneasy status quo
Security analysts have a lot on their plate. On a daily basis, they have to review, prioritize, and triage hundreds or even thousands of alerts generated through various sources. While organizations have finite human resources for security operations, the volume of threats is only growing every day. This unending stream of alerts can hamper their ability to react quickly and effectively to a critical incident. Security analysts need to follow set procedures, often involving many manual, repetitive tasks while responding to alerts or incidents. A lot of time and effort gets spent on tasks that do not really require their expertise and which can be automated away.
While organizations employ many different security tools and processes to cover all bases, security teams still have a mountain to climb to ensure that the resources at their disposal are used efficiently to counter the most critical threats. It is a major challenge for security managers and other senior executives to get up to speed with the complexity and scale of security operations for an organization with thousands of different assets, numerous data stores, applications, users, and associated third parties. Additionally, these assets may be spread across multiple environments, including on-premise, hybrid, or cloud platforms, thereby adding to the security risks and the variety of threats they face. The lack of quick decision-making and effective incident management can result in disastrous effects on the organization’s data security, business processes, operational reliability, customers, and brand reputation.
What’s the solution?
The cure to these pertinent issues in SecOps and incident management lies in building bridges across different areas of the security organization through security orchestration and reducing human effort through automation to drastically improve the performance and response capabilities of security teams. Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) refers to three key capabilities — threat and vulnerability management, security incident response, and security operations automation — that every organization needs to operate securely in today’s threat environment.
Security orchestration relates to the combining of different technologies and connecting security tools to enable them to work together in incident response to exchange security information and execute actions across the stack. When security automation is added to the mix, security teams can use the power and agility of a machine to analyze and respond to alerts, implement mitigation measures, facilitate reporting of key metrics, and much more. Let us dive deeper into the role of SOAR solutions in improving efficiency and performance and extending the reach of SecOps.
How SOAR helps transform SecOps?
- Extensive Integration – The true advantage of SOAR solutions is to allow the seamless flow of information and actions between existing security tools. Security teams usually employ a variety of tools such as SIEMs, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and threat intelligence platforms, many of which are not built from the ground up with interoperability in mind. This forces analysts to do a lot of legwork while analyzing an alert or responding to an incident. Security orchestration and automation, as an integral element of cyber fusion, can help piece together the different parts of the puzzle, saving a lot of time and allowing the analysts to focus on other tasks. All in all, every security function benefits from the acceleration of internal processes through such integration.
- Faster Threat Response – SOAR solutions provide the ability to respond to threats automatically in a number of scenarios that occur on a frequent basis. Threats such as malware intrusion on systems, suspicious network connections, phishing emails, and many others require quick reaction on the part of security teams to prevent further spreading of the threat. This is where SOAR-driven automated Playbooks come into play to provide a quick and effective response to contain incidents through machine capabilities while leaving room for deeper investigation by analysts where needed.
- SecOps Consistency – The automation of incident response comes with the added advantage of consistency in various security workflows. This reduces the chances of human error and makes the job of analysts easier through well-defined and structured processes. Additionally, it helps organizations meet security compliance requirements and avoid any surprise outcomes.
- Connecting the Dots – For an effective response against sophisticated threat campaigns, analysts need to understand the threat by collating information from different perspectives, including all incidents, vulnerabilities, malware, assets, and threat actors linked to it. Cyber fusion-powered SOAR platforms enable security teams to connect the dots between these diverse parts of the threat environment to identify appropriate response measures.
- Threat Intelligence Operationalization – While many organizations today ingest threat intelligence from different sources, the threat intel does not provide real value until it is put into use in their existing security processes and to shape their security strategies. Within a cyber fusion-powered SecOps environment, threat intelligence operationalization becomes straightforward through the infusion of actionable threat intel into threat response workflows and through automated dissemination to key stakeholders.
- Cross-Functional and Cross-Environment Workflows – Each security tool is designed to address specific use cases for a security function within a certain environment. This makes it challenging to exchange information across different security functions and environments. An advanced SOAR solution with cyber fusion capabilities can facilitate complex orchestration workflows across different environments, including on-premise and cloud, without adding any security risks to the organization’s network. With this, different SecOps teams can collaborate more easily and leverage the information and capabilities of each other’s tools.
Reach SOARing heights with Cyber Fusion
While implementing SOAR provides many benefits, organizations can further upgrade their SecOps by enhancing it with the Cyber Fusion model. Different security functions within an organization operate in a siloed manner that leaves little room for communication and knowledge sharing with other stakeholders within and outside the organization. Oftentimes, there is a lack of any cross-pollination of ideas and learnings from one team to another within SecOps. For security decision-makers, the governance of security operations is also a major challenge without adequate visibility and control over their threat environment. These issues push organizations into making the same security mistakes over and over again without iterative improvement and the streamlining of their security operations.
Organizations can truly step into the future of SecOps and incident management by combining SOAR, threat intelligence, and extensive threat management capabilities using cyber fusion. This provides a new outlook to the way security teams function, by bringing them together under one umbrella and streamlining their activities with smart orchestration, automation, and the infusion of threat intelligence to proactively identify and mitigate all kinds of threats.
The key takeaway
Considering the always-on arms race between cybercriminals and security teams, there is a dire need for reliable solutions to improve SecOps efficiency and to manage a growing number of security incidents. The advent of security orchestration and automation technologies has been a boon for security teams in their quest to stay ahead of the shape-shifting cyber threats. Through the integration and automation of their SecOps, organizations can dramatically reduce their cyber risks and maintain cyber resilience in the long term.