Businesses, regardless of their sizes worldwide are seeking methods to improve their efficacy and profitability by all means from their general activities to IT and cyber-security. Irrespective of how people think about automation, – whether they feel it has a positive impact on businesses or it killing cyber-security jobs – this does not divert the truth that in the future, automation is set to cause changes like cyber-security jobs. This is because one of the very many ways to achieve the set goals that businesses are having today is to include automation as well as cyber-security automation in their activities. Integrating automation in business operations comes in a variety of ways and includes numerous security automation tools. Then, what do these tools involve, what are their principles of operation, and how are they incorporated into the security systems/processes of a business?
Today, cyber-security automation is regarded as a way of “making the playing ground level” for cyber-attackers and cyber-security pundits. The main objective is to minimize and possibly eliminate cyber-threats by reducing vulnerabilities. Cyber-security automation is as well meant to: make data collection easy, fast, and more effective; integrate artificial intelligence with machine learning techniques into the system to improve the analytic capabilities of the business; and eradicating boring, time-consuming tasks to relieve the IT security pundits so as they can prioritize on high-level tasks. Every organization wants to have cyber-security automation integrated into its information infrastructure. That will allow the relocation of human resources to other departments where their efforts are required more to increase the efficiency of the company.
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At first, this term security automation implied cyber-security automation. Over the years, the digital world has evolved drastically leading to the evolution of this definition. Today, security automation involves substituting manual processes/operations with automated systems to facilitate the detection and prevention of cyber-threats while enhancing the response intelligence of companies to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. In layperson’s perspective, the automation of cyber-security is meant for two reasons: to predict potential risks and retaliate to them effectively, and minimizing human involvement in handling security activities
Today, companies across the world have reported a rise in cyber-security expenditure in their operations. Reports from International Data Corporation (IDC) indicate that in 2019 alone, the worldwide expenditure for cyber-security solutions hit 103 billion dollars. Also, the cyber-security automation industry – that includes the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning – is expected to rapidly grow in the near future. Research shows that the AI-powered cyber-security industry will exceed 38 billion dollars by 2016. Today, investing in cyber-security automation is critical to all companies as cyber-attackers are increasingly launching sophisticated attacks on businesses. But what sort of cyber-security automation tools are required to offer these solutions? Cyber-security experts have attested a variety of automation solutions and platforms and have verified their significance:
Robotic process automation involves using robots in industrial processes – both physical and virtual like software robots – to handle repetitive duties. Regarding cyber-security automation, RPA involves using automated systems/tools/platforms to manage/handle intellectual functions like inspections, scanning as well as low-level instance responses. It may also include extraction and collection of data, basic threat detection, and various cognitive functions. Integrating RPA into businesses comes with a variety of benefits ranging from logistical, threat to compliance perspectives. Firstly, RPA increases the efficiency of cyber-security as it eliminates the burden of performing manual, tedious, and repetitive tasks. Secondly, it assists in reducing human involvement which is considered as the most significant cyber-security vulnerability. Whether knowingly or mistakenly, humans are the biggest threat to the cyber health of businesses. Eliminating the human aspect when handling organizational data makes it more secure. By applying RPA in businesses, cyber-securities vulnerabilities are reduced by a large extent:
Moreover, businesses that have adopted RPA stay compliant with various regulations including PCI DSS and GDPR standards. For instance, RPA can be applied for data aggregation, rolling out of informed consent alerts, notifying any data breach, and data document. Nevertheless, companies should not be over-dependent on RPA for all their cyber-security solutions that need high cognitive and analytical abilities as it should be a mix of high-cognitive learning methods/techniques/technologies and human intervention.
SOAR – security orchestration and response is a mix of IT technologies that enhance the capability and efficacy of security activities with minimal human intervention in low-cognitive tasks. SOAR is meant to advance their major cyber-security affiliated functions such as orchestration of security, automation of security, and security response. This technology performs these three tasks by enhancing the management capabilities of risks and vulnerability, response to cyber-security instances, and automating security activities. SOAR and SIEM are related in a couple of ways – most importantly, the two technologies aggregate and apply data from a different source to analyze it and identify anomalous activities. Whereas the two solution technologies usually operate side-by-side to offer data security, they differ in several ways.
Compared with SOAR, Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) is a more manual operation. SIEM requires manual retaliations to perform different tasks such as the normal systems upgrades and technology tweaks, improvement if efficiency, rule setting, signature optimization, and increase detection effectiveness. However, SIEM solutions are limited to detecting known threats and are also inadequate at detecting new and unknown sorts of threats. Compared to SIEM, SOAR is more heterogeneous in nature and it uses the SIEM alerts and automatically retaliates to them. SOAR uses cognitive techniques such as AI and ML tools for learning that enables them to detect both the known and unknown threats.
SOAR is meant to automate and enhance the security operations and retaliation to threats by wiping out repetitive tasks and introducing organization (orchestration) of operations within an organization. Security orchestration, a primary function of SOAR helps to prevent phishing attacks. Robotic automation in data collection, data analysis, and remediation operations reduces the time of risk detection and response time to these phishing attacks. Interestingly, due to their similarities, these two technologies are usually applied hand-in-hand. By integrating them into the available security technologies, the tools protect the organization against several cyber-threats.
The extensive application of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates and keys is a threat to cyber-security. A good example is the existence of blind spots in the network, that is, poor visibility within the network where shadow certificates cause security breaches, operation outages, and network downtime among others. Network outage affects business in a couple of ways such a loss of revenue, noncompliance penalties, loss of customers, loss of reputation, et al. Research conducted by the Ponemon Institute and KeyFactor shows that unexpected network outage and downtime cost businesses millions of dollars every year. Certificate and key management platforms enhance business operations in different ways. First, these tools help business owners to detect/identify/understand all digital certificates existing within their networks irrespective of their type, the date they were issued, their brand, or the date of expiring. The sort of certificates identified by these tools includes client certificates, SSL and TLS certificates, IoT certificates.\
Certificate management platforms facilitate cyber-security automation where tedious and time-consuming operations involving manual management of thousands of keys and certificates are automated through:
Having a sturdy, current, and valid SSL certificate is a critical element of an organization’s cyber health. Using SSL certificates in today’s world of technology has become so extensive that handling them is a handy task for companies. Businesses have lists regarding the number of SSL certificates owned by the enterprise, the issuer, the number of public keys associated with the certificates, and the people allowed to access the keys. Certificate management tools, therefore, play a critical role by automating the discovery process for SSL certificates.
Every business differs in operations and needs from the other. And whereas several available cyber-security automation technologies are significantly critical to businesses, companies are finding it better to build custom solutions customized to meet the peculiar requirements of the business. It might be an activity that the company’s workforce could handle, but the management would want to delegate them to a third-party.
It’s becoming increasingly hard for businesses to secure themselves from cyber-threats and mitigate attacks due to their sophistication. Security teams worldwide are facing the hurdle of effectively managing millions of notifications that are generated by security capabilities. For cyber-security pundits to investigate these threats, they must execute manual, time-consuming and repetitive tasks. Fortunately, security automation is meant to solve these problems that are experienced in the day-to-day operations of the businesses. Automation and integration of cyber-security in business operations is becoming a critical way of saving resources – revenue, data, and reputation. It is indeed a savior of many businesses in the world.
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