What is Security Orchestration, Automation and Response?
Staying protected online isn’t a matter of deploying an antivirus and a firewall. Repelling modern threats requires a unified security strategy that can manage and mitigate security events when they emerge. Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) stacks are one of the best tools for managing security events. But what is SOAR exactly?
What is Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)?
Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) is an automated system that collects, analyzes, and prioritizes alerts and security data from many sources and systems, so security teams have all the contextual information and intelligence they need for rapid detection and response. SOAR uses workflows and playbooks to automate repetitive tasks, to assure consistent threat analysis, and to guide security analysts to the right decision.
How does SOAR work?
Security orchestration, automation, and response work by integrating with a variety of security tools and platforms to gather information about potential security threats and incidents. This information can include details such as the source and destination of malicious traffic, the type of attack being launched, and the impact on the organization’s systems and data. Policies and workflows are used by SOAR systems to assess this data and choose the best course of action.
For example, if a SOAR system detects a potentially malicious network connection, it might automatically block the connection, quarantine the affected system, and escalate the incident to human responders for further investigation. SOAR systems can also be configured to take other types of actions, such as running scans to identify vulnerabilities, deploying patches to fix vulnerabilities, and generating reports for compliance purposes.
SOAR systems are designed to help organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their security operations, as well as reduce the risk of data breaches and other cyber attacks.
Benefits of Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response
- Meet budgetary needs: The growing number and type of threats present significant budget issues to enterprises. With each new threat, a novel protocol has to be developed, and this may require hiring new people to manage the process. With each new type of cyberattack, an organization has to arrange for ways to analyze the data and develop systems of addressing the problem. This takes time, energy, and resources. But with SOAR, each facet of the approach is streamlined, and much of it can be automated, which conserves time and money.
- Enhance time management and efficiency: As time is saved through the use of a Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response approach, productivity is bolstered. People on the team who would normally spend countless hours doing things that SOAR has automated can now invest their time in supporting other organizational objectives. With this comes a more efficient use of human resources. This can result in spending less time recruiting and hiring new staff because the current team can accomplish more.
- Manage incidents more effectively: Enterprises can also benefit when threats are dealt with more quickly. The SOAR infrastructure allows for faster response times, as well as more accurate interventions. Because fewer mistakes are made, less time has to be spent fixing problems. Human error is minimized, leading to an all-around more effective issue-management system.
- Flexibility: SOAR can be set up according to an organization’s specific needs. SOAR’S design enables it to change according to the needs of the existing security system. This means it can be adopted into your current setup without the need for a time-consuming or resource-heavy system redesign. SOAR can collect data from disparate sources, whether it comes from manual input, machines, or emails. The IT team can then decide how the data gets tracked according to what best fits the needs of the organization.
- Enhanced collaboration: As different types of threats are addressed by the central SOAR system, teams that would normally be handling these on an individual basis can collaborate around coming up with the best SOAR settings and automation. This can result in a more unified set of protocols, as well as empower IT teams to collaborate around innovative solutions.
Some SOAR use cases
One of the smartest things you can do before you begin talking to vendors about SOAR solutions is to think about how your organization will use them. Typical use cases are highly contingent on your industry. Some examples include:
- Combating cyberattacks with an automatic incident response: The types and degrees of security incidents can vary, and some industries are experiencing more pain than others. For example, while phishing attacks are on the rise everywhere, the financial industry in particular was the most targeted industry by phishing attacks during the first quarter of 2022 — accounting for almost 24% of phishing attacks on companies around the world. SOAR solutions can automatically detect and examine the sources of those types of attacks. They can also contain threats before confidential data is released to attackers, reducing response times from hours to minutes.
- Threat hunting: With automation, many of the previously encountered malicious threats are addressed instantly, creating necessary bandwidth for security analysts to correct vulnerabilities and making it harder for hackers to access confidential information.
- Penetration testing: SOAR platforms can automate activities such as asset discovery scans, classification activities, and target prioritization, making it possible for security teams to operationalize their penetration testing efforts.
- Improving overall vulnerability management: A SOAR solution can ensure that your security team triages and adequately manages risk introduced by new vulnerabilities discovered within your environment. As a result, they are able to be proactive, while also putting safeguards into place to avoid breaches or other attacks.
What are the challenges of SOAR?
Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response is not a silver-bullet technology, nor is it a standalone system. SOAR platforms should be part of a defense-in-depth security strategy, especially as they require the input of other security systems to successfully detect threats. SOAR is a complementary technology, not a replacement for other security tools. SOAR platforms are not a replacement for human analysts but instead can augment their skills and workflows for more effective incident detection and response.
Other potential drawbacks of SOAR include the following:
- Failure to remediate a broader security strategy.
- Conflated expectations.
- Integration complexities.
- Deployment and management complexity.
- Lack of or limited metrics.
You have the opportunity to enable your security team to do the impossible: Keep up with the never-ending security alerts that plague a highly complex IT environment. Freeing your team from dealing with false positives, repetitive alerts, and low-risk warnings, Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response lets you pivot from a reactionary approach to a more proactive one. Rather than fighting fires, security analysts can put their talents and extensive training to better use, ultimately improving your organization’s overall security posture.