December 19, 2018 / by Joyce Varghese / In soar /

What is SOAR and how it transforms security operations

Is your Security Operations Center (SOC) team drowning in a growing sea of alerts in this age of data explosion and multiplying threats?

Does your SOC feel overwhelmed by the daily workload of mundane security chores?

What your business needs is a smarter tool — Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) to assist your SOC analysts, automate workflows and make life a whole lot easier!

Introduction

Gartner estimated in 2015 that 5% of large and midsize enterprises currently used SOAR technologies, but expects this to grow by 2019 to 30%. This growth is driven by an increased requirement to report on and analyze security operations. The expertise shortage and increasing escalation in the threat activity accelerate the shift to full and semi-automation of operational activities.

As this market grows and more offerings mature, a large percentage of the security budget moves to SOAR, where ROI and business value can easily be demonstrated by solving operational day-to-day problems. By 2020, Gartner estimates that 15% of security organizations with five or more security professionals will adopt SOAR.

What is SOAR?

SOAR lets organizations automatically respond to security alerts. It replaces slow, manual intervention from conventional security systems with quick decision making and response. At its core, SOAR involves automating different processes in a cybersecurity pipeline. For instance, every analyst handles alerts differently, leading to errors and inconsistencies in outcomes. With SOAR playbooks we can eliminate these inefficiencies as there is a definite investigation path for every alert, thereby maintaining consistency among analysts.

What is SOAR, and why do you need it?

SOAR vs SIEM

Both SIEM and SOAR intend to make the lives of the entire security team better through increased efficiency and efficacy. While data collection is incredibly meaningful, SIEM solutions tend to produce more alerts than SecOps teams can expect to respond to. SOAR enables the security team to handle the alert load quickly and efficiently, leaving time to focus on core tasks.

How SOAR is transforming security operations?

Analysts in your SOC have their hands full when it comes to keeping up with monumental volumes of alerts - they must identify, prioritize and address only the most critical of the lot. It may seem impossible for SOC analysts to handle these alerts on a constant basis. Processing an endless stream of alerts can prevent your SOC from responding quickly and effectively.

Hiring additional SOC analysts is one way to overcome this challenge, but finding skilled people is another concern altogether. No organization would wish for a never-ending recruitment cycle that brings in unskilled team members. If your SOC is full of underqualified team members, your error rates will skyrocket as the team fails to respond to incidents efficiently.

You must do something soon, before the SOC team is buried under a mountain of alerts! You need help to reduce the number of false positives, your error rate, and by extension, your failure rate!

When automation comes into the picture, you can harness the power and speed of a machine to assess an overwhelming volume of alerts in minutes. SOC analysts and incident handlers will have the capacity to gather relevant contextual information proactively, allowing for improved investigation and faster decision making. This leads to massive benefits, such as a reduced headcount, reduced error rate, efficient and rapid decision making, and obviously, reduced costs.

Let’s take a look at the ways a SOAR solution can transform security operations.

Shorter response times

The primary way SOAR transforms security operations is by cutting response times down to seconds. The amount of time an attacker has access to a system will therefore be drastically reduced. Based on the length of linger time, you can gain a better understanding of how attackers interact within your environment, enabling you to respond proactively.

Simpler investigations

SOAR assists a SOC analyst in making the right decision and bringing all the information together. Suppose you have discovered suspicious users being created in your system, using SOAR, you can gather more information about these users. And yet, this could be a SOC analyst’s judgement call. Bringing all the data together can be done by the SOC analyst. Automation can be done when you’ve to look at all the data in a single view and make a decision on that particular event.

Minimized damage from attacks

SOAR helps security analysts respond and investigate attacks more quickly and also allows them to begin mitigation sooner. The automation capabilities enable them to take some steps to minimize damage from attacks without human intervention. And when people need to be involved, they’ll have all the most important information about the attack so that they can respond further quickly.

Reduced manual processes

It isn’t just false positives that eat up SOC analysts’ time. Many spend a large portion of their day handling cumbersome manual tasks such as adding new users or removing users’ access who have left the company. These sorts of repetitive tasks are ideal for automation and some SOAR vendors claim that up to 80 percent of security analysts’ daily work can be automated. Security analysts use security automation and orchestration to automate basic remediation tasks.

Integration with other IT operation tools

Ideally, SOAR tools don’t just integrate security tools, they’ll also enable security analysts to look into asset databases, helpdesk systems, configuration management systems and other IT management tools. Most of the organizations are looking for this capability. Many security orchestration and automation platforms offer pre-built integration for your tools, meaning it’s plug-and-play to use them, no manual work or coding required.

Cost Savings

While cost is not the main driver for security automation and orchestration, it can be a positive side effect. SOAR helps security analysts become more efficient and productive. SOAR solutions can help reduce operational costs. SOAR enables you to get more out of the resources you have already invested in.

SOAR higher with DNIF

At times, there is a high possibility of laxity that the SOC analysts do partial domain check or completely miss out on figuring out what’s the check is all about. This completely go away with automation! Once you’re able to understand the human process, replicate that into a playbook and automate it. The error rate that happens with SOC analysts will be eradicated.

Introducing SOAR capabilities into your business is the beginning of quick decision making and response. SOAR is the best guide for analysts stuck in a maze of alerts. It enriches events with contextual information, preventing false positives from lowering the sensitivity bar. It also allows SOC analysts to dedicate a portion of their day investigating and responding to events. It streamlines your incident response workflows and improves overall security operations.

Now let’s see how DNIF’s SOAR platform will transform your SOC operations.

Enrichment

SOC analysts crave for ‘extra’ information of an event, which possibly narrows down the investigation process. The capability of enrichment contributes a lot in prioritizing incoming alerts. They include logic to eliminate false positives from further processing. Context and data enrichment in SOAR helps security teams quickly visualize the who, what and when of an alert to expedite investigation and make better decisions. Time devoted to gathering all relevant data pertaining to a case is considered as the most time-consuming activity for Security Operations. The benefits of this feature are multifold when an event is enriched before it is indexed, rather than at the time of correlation which can make the system slow and nearly impossible to work with.

Validation

Validation enables security analysts to classify if an event is merely an alert or a potential attack. Picturing an interactive investigation and incident response without ‘playbooks’ is just impossible. They are a definite conclusion for every alert. They create standard, consistent processes for flexible automation which is the need of the hour in the trending scenario. With playbooks in the picture, two security analysts no longer need to rack their brains on deciding the outcome for the same alert. It simply eliminates the human dependency of drawing conclusions.

Response

Enrichment and automation contribute abundantly to reduce the investigation time of an alert, resulting in incredibly faster response time. SOAR provides an opportunity to businesses to change their response strategies, which are seen to reduce the response time by 60%. This capability restricts an attacker from dwelling in for a longer time, shutting them out of the system before any data can be compromised. With SOAR, businesses are in a state to say,

‘Well done attackers, better luck next time!’

effective security automation playbooks