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Understanding the Power of SOAR for Security Operations

April 2, 2020 | by Steve Ellis

SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) entails the strategies, technologies, and software that help businesses improve cybersecurity operations by automating the detection and identification of threats. In a fast-changing world, there is a need for technologies that provide intelligent threat management so that cybersecurity staff can focus on security incident response strategies. 

The Power of SOAR

In the recent wake of the Coronavirus, most employees are advised to work from home. Remote working arrangements increase cybersecurity risks, necessitating a more robust, autonomous incident monitoring system. This article explores how SOAR tools can help your company create a logical security ecosystem to help tackle threats associated with the modern workplace. 

 

What are SOAR tools?

The SOAR cybersecurity strategy is composed of the building blocks described below:

 

Orchestration

This involves integrating the various cybersecurity technologies to work within a coordinated framework. This building block also includes technical staff such as Information Security analysts, architects, and administrators to offer support when automated detection is not enough.

 

The increase in complexity and incidence of cybersecurity threats has rendered traditional incident management strategies obsolete and inefficient. Orchestration helps businesses improve their response based on an assessment of their defensive strategies and cybersecurity risk. Cybersecurity professionals (Security Analysts and IT Administrators) are enfranchised to replace repetitive, tedious, low-level tasks with automated remediation and decision-making processes.

 

Automation

This stage involves using machines to carry out human-related activities. The SOAR framework uses technologies to enhance low-level tasks and integrate them with human decision-making to speed up incident investigations and fast-track response strategies. 

Using this feature of the SOAR tools, your cybersecurity team can outline the procedure for automation, the decision-making process, monitoring & auditing capabilities, and the enforcement actions. To make automation effective, the cybersecurity team must properly define the response tasks the machines must execute sequentially. This process creates the security automation playbook.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response

Response

Response helps cybersecurity staff to act on security incidents, collaborate on effective cybersecurity strategies, and have a shared database for strategies used to resolve incidents. Response strategies include:

 

Alert Prioritization and Processing: The SOAR framework gathers information from security subsystems. Cybersecurity staff then analyses the data to verify the presence of a threat. In case of a threat, the team investigates other potential risks to prevent further attacks. They then initiate the resolution process.

Case Management: This involves collaboration, coordination, and task administration with the Security Operations Centre.

Threat Intelligence Management: SOAR tools collect all data regarding vulnerability. Cybersecurity staff then process this information and turn it into intelligence that will form the basis for future proactive actions. 

 

Dashboard and Reporting

The final building block of SOAR tools generate reports for all security stakeholders. These stakeholders include the Security Operations Center Managers, the Chief Information Security Officer, Information Security Analysts, and other security experts who are part of the SOAR framework. The dashboard helps staff to gain improved threat intelligence and improve measures through lessons learned from previous reports. 

 

How is SOAR Helpful in Improving Cybersecurity at Modern Workplaces?

Cybersecurity challenges are constantly evolving. Malicious threats have grown, both in number and level of sophistication. Additionally, every cybersecurity expert is concerned with speed and accuracy. Most businesses deploy cybersecurity features in their Security Operation Centers (SOCs). Due to the increased focus on cybersecurity threats, SOCs are experiencing staff shortages. SOC staff usually have more work than they can execute. The SOAR framework allows you to maximize results on security efforts while putting a minimum strain on your resources. Here are six ways the framework achieves that:

cybersecurity for your business SOAR

1. Integration of Security Tools with Threat Intelligence

In most Security Operation Centers, you will find a barrage of security options sourced from different vendors. These tools seldom work together. Even when tools are touted to offer some form of integration, it is usually more theoretical than practical. One of the most appreciated benefits of SOAR tools is the fact that they offer a way to integrate external threat intelligence with internal security tools. Most cybersecurity staff would love to utilize these tools to organize and correlate this data using the various available tools.

 

2. Reduced Damage from Attacks

SOAR facilitates the quick response and investigation of cybersecurity attacks. SOC staff can start remediation and mitigation sooner. The automation capabilities offered by SOAR tools also initiates some action to reduce the damage of an attack without human intervention. Whenever security staff needs to intervene, they will already be armed with information about the attack, and thus can act quickly, minimizing the damage even more. 

 

3. Simplifies Investigation Workflow

SOAR tools have the capability to investigate low-level security alerts. These tools have been programmed to escalate only those tasks that require actual human intervention. This way, cybersecurity staff do not waste company time investigating unnecessary alarms. SOAR tools create a consolidated location where staff can correlate alerts from various tools and zero-in on the root cause of system vulnerabilities.

SOAR tools - Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response

4. Quick Response to Incidents

Any enterprise is at risk of a security attack. Cybersecurity teams are tasked with the responsibility of identifying these threats, eliminate the attack, and remediate the damage done. The teams should ensure they do this quickly to reduce the cost and damage incurred in the course of the attack. SOAR tools help accelerate this process through the integration of all security tools. Rather than check each of these tools individually, the staff can access all the information in one place, reacting faster to the threats posed.

 

5. Eliminates Time Wastage Due to Manual Processes and False Alarms

In many Security Operation Centers, staff spends a great deal of time on tedious, low-level tasks such as updating firewall rules, decommissioning, and adding new users. SOAR tools could potentially automate up to 70% of the staffer's routine work. False alarms also reduce staff efficiency since they eat into the professional’s productive time. False positives also pose a real threat, as most staffers get used to seeing notifications pop-up on their screens, they may ignore real threats. SOAR tools automate the handling of low-level alarms, reducing the incidence of false positives.

 

6. Cost Savings

Since SOAR tools help improve employees’ efficiency and productivity, they offer the benefit of reduced costs and increased return on investments.

 

How to Use SOAR Tools to Manage Employee Security

The modern workplace presents unique cybersecurity challenges. As more employers send their workers home on remote assignments, there arises the need for improved vigilance. This is where SOAR tools come in.  The SOAR framework integrates with your existing cybersecurity framework (such as SIEM, which we explore a little later) to ensure your staffers perform only those actions that are necessary while keeping tabs on your entire security system. So, how do you go about implementing SOAR for improved security in the workplace?

SOAR  for improved Security

SOAR tools go hand in hand with your existing Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to automate cybersecurity initiatives. The SIEM monitors your software applications and network hardware to provide spontaneous analysis and identify discrepancies that may indicate a threat. The SIEM will, therefore, collect, process, store, and present logs generated by cybersecurity infrastructure. SIEM will avail all information from your employees' workstations and network infrastructure to your SOC. The SOC will then detect complex attacks, acts of non-compliance, and malicious intruders using behavioral algorithms, complex analytics, and contextual enrichment. 

 

To pass information from the SIEM to the SOAR, you can use Syslog for recorded events. Your staffers will generate parsing rules that convert these event logs into readable messages. SOAR architecture also offers in-built integration with various SIEM products. You can take advantage of this to reduce the time spent generating parsing rules needed when interpreting Syslog. Once the events have been escalated into the SOAR architecture, SOC staffers should define the suitable processes for investigating the different incidences within the SOAR framework. From here on out, all events can be handled within the SOAR solution.

 

Conclusion

The evolution of cybersecurity challenges has rendered Security Operations Centers ineffective at best. Most SOCs suffer understaffing since cybersecurity professionals spend huge portions of their workday on routine tasks. Remote work arrangements have worsened this situation by creating various vulnerability points on work networks. The SOAR platform can help cybersecurity teams improve their awareness and remediation strategies by focusing on high-level decision-making tasks. Additionally, SOAR platforms can readily integrate with your existing Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) systems to provide a multi-faceted approach to information security.

 

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Categories: Security

Steve Ellis

About Steve Ellis

Snow hater, technology lover, information sharer, camper, biker, and hiker. Steve Ellis has been with Office1 since 1995. He’s filled many positions from a brand new copier tech to his current position serving as the VP of Professional Services. He has a passion for learning and sharing the knowledge that might make someone’s life easier. He holds several certifications including MCSA and MCITP. He is currently working on his CompTIA CySA+. Steve has been in the copier industry for more than 25 years and has been interested in tech since 2000.

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