What is Security Automation? A Beginner’s Guide

4 Minute Read

With an increasingly complex cyber threat landscape and an extreme shortage of skilled security professionals, many organizations are looking for ways to improve and simplify security operations. Despite the fact that staffing and cybersecurity budgets are rising, they aren’t keeping pace with the increase in threats. So, organizations are struggling to find solutions that provide adequate security at the scale they need, and at a reasonable price.

A solution is security automation.

Over the last few years, the definition of security automation has changed. In the past, a common definition would have simply been: the automation of cybersecurity controls. But this definition no longer represents the current scope of security automation.

These two words have now evolved into a phrase that includes certain connotations of specific features and abilities. There is a better way to define security automation now.

So, What is Security Automation?

Security automation can be defined as:

The automation of systems to detect and prevent cyber threats, while contributing to the overall threat intelligence of an organization in order to plan and defend against future attacks. It’s designed to automatically execute best practices defined by your SecOps team – all at rapid machine speeds to speed resolution, streamline communications, and mitigate risk.

Security Automation platforms adapt to your organization’s unique security requirements, automating tasks that take up valuable time and attention. With the help of automation, your incident response process can be accelerated, allowing you to respond to more incidents in less time without adding overhead.

Do You Really Need Security Automation?

Yes, especially if your SecOps team is already equipped with the basics like SIEM, endpoint security systems, and security logs.

With security automation, your organization can improve security with functions like:

  • Detect threats across your environments
  • Automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks
  • Integrate across your technology stack 
  • Easily build automated playbooks & workflows
  • Case management & reporting 

The Benefits of Security Automation

Automating security processes has advantages for both SOC analysts and security leaders, including:

For Analysts

Save time on Repetitive, Mundane Tasks: Automate the time-sucking security tasks that take up most of your day. Improve work-life balance by getting more done during your 9-5 and reducing the number of alerts you receive.

Fight Alert Fatigue & Burnout: Analysts who use security automation save time that was previously required to filter, sort, and visualize data. This frees analysts from manual and error-prone tasks so they can spend more time on strategic initiatives.

Faster Threat Detection: Analysts can proactively respond to almost 80% more security telemetry data with security automation. They were able to stop attacks earlier in the attack lifecycle and prevent them from becoming breaches – improving your work performance without adding more work.

A System of Record for Security: With dynamic case management, dashboards and reporting, security automation makes it easier to communicate with fellow SOC analysts on alerts. Plus, it’s easier to close more security alerts in less time with enriched data and rapid response.

For Security Leaders

Speed up Metrics like MTTD and MTTR: Organizations that use security automation can reduce manual interventions by one-third in the first six months of deployment. Improve efficiency and effectiveness of day-to-day security operations to reduce MTTD by 50%.

Improve ROI: Security automation platforms drastically reduce work hours and labor costs. Fortune 100 organizations see savings of $160,000 per month in labor costs and 3,700 hours of work each week. Automation dashboards and reporting make it easy to measure these statistics so that security leaders can evaluate the efficacy of their investments.

Future-Proof Security: security is always evolving, as are the tools organizations use. Certain Security automation platforms, like low-code, offer the flexibility and power that changing security teams need. If staffing is a challenge, security automation empowers your existing staff. Likewise, if you’re having trouble integrating your cloud services and security tools, security automation platforms offer endless integrations with any product.

Pictured: Using low-code security alert automation for EDR Alert Triage.

The Types of Security Automation

Nowadays, Security automation tools fall into three categories: no-code, low-code, and full-code (such as legacy SOAR platforms). The main difference between each is the level of coding required to operate, as well as the flexibility of use. 

No-code automation offers codeless access to the basics of security automation. Use cases and workflows are pre-made, which means you’re limited to minimal customization in the future. Learn more about low-code vs. no-code security automation.

Low-code automation offers the ability to operate at any level of coding you prefer: no-code, some-code, or more-code. You’ll get the simplicity and user-friendliness of no-code with features like drag-and-drop data entry and built-in business logic, plus the power of full-code with robust application development capabilities for a range of customizable use cases. 

Full-code automation offers – you guessed it – full coding capabilities. The caveat is a high barrier to entry. You’ll have more customization options but will need dedicated coding experts to create workflows and processes. This takes significantly more time and resources to fully operate.

Common Security Automation Use Cases

Security automation was born out of SOAR, which offers forever-popular use cases like phishing and alert triage. So, you’re likely to see these common use cases inside the security operations center (SOC). However, security automation takes it a step further and adds value by solving problems around data overload and talent shortage for teams focused on fraud, vulnerability management, legal and compliance use cases. 

It’s worth noting that some security automation solutions have limited use cases due to platform constraints, 

Inside the SOC – typical use cases within security include phishing:

  • SIEM triage
  • Threat hunting
  • Digital Forensics and incident response
  • Insider threat
  • IOC lookups
  • EDR alert triage
  • Threat intelligence

Beyond the SOC – some security automation platforms have use cases that expand beyond normal SOC processes. These include:

  • Mobile phishing
  • Fraud and brand impersonation
  • Fraud case management
  • Employee onboarding/offboarding. 

Security automation platforms, like Swimlane Turbine, integrate with your existing security infrastructure to provide you with a way to automate incident response, prioritize alerts, and have a clear understanding of the state of security within your organization.

A Buyer’s Guide for Modern Security Automation

Cut through the complexity and frustration of SOAR and security automation solutions. This guide analyzes the wide range of security automation platforms available today, so you can find the best solution for your team.

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