What qualities to look for in a security automation platform.
Low-code, no-code, SOAR, XDR. That’s what everyone is talking about these days, and for good reason.
The security industry moves fast, but automation keeps it moving even faster — removing the manual processes that can get in the way of identifying and responding to threats. As the security landscape continues to mature, more security leaders are looking for faster, more actionable insights than ever before.
However, as CISOs race ahead with big goals in mind, it’s important to check that you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure stability and performance within our environments. Security automation is a great way to accomplish this. But when evaluating a platform for automation, there are many things you’ll want to keep in mind.
What is Security Automation?
Security automation platforms automatically execute mundane, repetitive tasks with security best practices that your SecOps team defines. This allows you to standardize your processes to mitigate risk, speed resolution, and streamline communications. It’s key for organizations looking to get faster, more accurate threat detection and response. With automation, you can:
Tackle threats faster: Automate routine tasks so that you can spend more time on higher-level analysis, enabling your team to tackle the growing threat landscape by managing multiple threats at once instead of just one at a time.
Show business value: Organizations can improve security metrics, reduce their staffing costs, and improve the effectiveness of other security investments by using automation. You no longer need as many analysts performing manual tasks that can be easily automated, which helps them improve performance on more complex threats.
Address analyst burnout: Automate the mundane, repetitive tasks that take up too much of security analysts’ time, helping to avoid costly mistakes that come from analyzing large amounts of data.
Connect disjointed tools: Gain visibility in the SOC and across the entire organization. Easily integrate siloed tools and organize large data sets with powerful, customizable platform features to save time and resources.
While it’s tempting to dive headfirst into automating your security ecosystem, there are some considerations that need to be made before you select a security automation solution.
1. Does it Support Your Integration Requirements?
As you’re researching security automation platforms, look for ones that integrate with the tools you already use. If your organization uses a specific technology to run its operations, make sure it’s supported. Some platforms don’t offer an agnostic approach to integrations, so be prepared when comparing solutions.
Ideally, look for a security automation platform that’s built with an API-first architecture that provides a common integration framework. This will help ensure that your new automation platform integrates seamlessly with anything you may need now or in the future.
2. How Difficult is It to Use?
The level of difficulty it takes to set up and operate a security automation platform is more important than ever. Security leaders are struggling to find highly skilled talent in the midst of a global staffing crisis, so consider the capabilities and bandwidth of your existing security team.
SOAR platforms (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) are notoriously difficult to use, mainly due to their advanced coding requirements. You’ll need dedicated coding experts to create workflows and processes, in addition to getting it up and running in the first place.
Low-code automation requires little to no coding experience, making it an appealing alternative for security teams that need the power of SOAR without the headache. You still get the power and sophistication that comes with a traditional SOAR platform, without the high barrier to entry.
User-friendly features like intuitive interfaces, drag-and-drop data entry and built-in business logic add to low-code’s ease of use.
3. What’s its level of complexity?
The goal of security automation is to take a powerful, complex security ecosystem and make it simple to use by whole teams, without sacrificing effectiveness. The key to finding a great security automation solution is to consider how powerful the platform needs to be. Does it need case management? Reporting capabilities? A range of use cases in and beyond the SOC?
No-code automation offers the basics of security automation, with no coding capabilities. While these type of solutions are easier to use than legacy SOAR, you’re limited to pre-made use cases and workflows, with minimal customizable capabilities. This reduced complexity in the backend means you’ll be sacrificing any case management and sophisticated reporting capabilities.
Low-code automation harnesses the complexity of legacy SOAR while offering the simplicity seen in no-code platforms. You can still expect robust application development capabilities for a range of customizable use cases, but with more user-friendly features like drag-and-drop data entry and built-in business logic.
With low-code, security teams also gain the flexibility to operate at any level of coding they prefer – if you want almost-no-code or all-the-code, you have the freedom to choose.
4. What are the use cases?
Consider if the security automation platform supports the use cases your organization needs. If improving your security posture is important, a well-rounded variety of incident response use cases is essential – managing phishing attempts, containing malware, and threat hunting. If your organization needs security outside of the SOC, look for use cases for fraud, employee onboarding/offboarding, and even insider threats.
More complex automation solutions have more complex use cases, but be wary of how much work it takes to build out these use cases like with legacy SOAR solutions. Alternatively, no-code automation solutions offer pre-built use cases, albeit a limited selection with little-to-no customization capabilities. Low-code security automation has the ease of pre-built use cases, and packs in the ability to fully customize them for your organization’s unique needs.
5. Will it be able to help you in the future?
It takes time, money, and resources to implement new security tools into your infrastructure, so choose a security automation solution that can help you in the present and the future. As you look at market options, think about the adaptability and scalability of each platform.
Why adaptability? The security landscape is constantly changing, so you need a solution that will adapt to those changes. If your team needs to suddenly change third-party tools, ensure that the security automation solution offers the flexibility and adaptability to integrate with new solutions.
Why scalability? Security teams evolve. If your team grows, your security automation platform should be powerful enough to grow as well. At the same time, if your team downsizes, your security platform should still be useable and able to fill any gaps.
Sometimes, adaptability and scalability mean migrating environments completely. Cloud-scale security automation is a great example. It’s a platform that can adapt to the changing needs of security teams, and it’s scalable enough to support new regulations or compliance requirements. The flexibility of cloud security means no overhead of infrastructure to manage, easy upgrades, and quicker configuration times.
6. Is it worth it?
The last step is to determine if a security automation platform is worth it for your SecOps team. At the end of the day, metrics are what’s most important to stakeholders. A valuable automation platform will help improve security metrics like dwell time, MTTR, and risk posture. That’s not all, though – it also needs reporting to back this up.
Sophisticated reporting capabilities – like the ones found in low-code security automation platforms – allow you to quickly build fully-customizable reports across your security ecosystem. It’s simple to schedule reports to gain insight into the performance, capacity, and value of your organization’s SOC.
A key component of any successful automation solution is having visibility into your environment with reporting. If you don’t know what’s happening in your environment or where vulnerabilities may exist, how can you automate something effectively?
The next time your organization looks to implement a security automation platform, consider these six points. By doing so, security teams can ensure that their chosen platform will not only automate tedious processes within their ecosystem but also become a system of record for the entire organization.