Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) Explained

When it first burst onto the cyber security scene back in 2015, SOAR was dubbed by Gartner as a ground-breaking, revolutionary technology in the cyber security industry. Fast-forward six years, Security Orchestration, Automation and Response has lived up to those expectations and is rapidly growing its presence rapidly, with the SOAR market estimated to exceed $550 million by 2023.

Today, SOAR plays a pivotal role at the heart of every modern SOC, and many organizations are eager to find out more about the potential this technology has to offer. Read on to dive deeper into the idiosyncrasies of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response and discover the role of SOAR in 2021 and beyond.

The challenges that drive security professionals to choose SOAR

Let’s face it, modern security teams don’t have it easy. They are constantly overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of cyber threats, the growing pressure of handling too many alerts, and the scarcity of resources and expert personnel at hand.

On top of that, the rise of new technologies, like OT, IT, Blockchain, and Cloud means there’s more work for cyber security teams to do in order to monitor and keep them secure. This all piles on to the already heavy burden security teams have to carry:

  • Rising volume and sophistication of cyber threats
  • Increasing complexity of business environments
  • Alert fatigue – too many alerts, processes, reports, and technologies to handle
  • Skill shortage gap – not enough skilled professionals

It goes without saying that the advancement of technology has made attackers smarter, allowing them to launch unprecedented cyber attacks with no predictable patterns of behavior whatsoever. This, in return, leads to massive data breaches and other forms of critical damage inflicted onto organizations.

But luckily, security engineers are problem solvers, so motivated by the need to create a solution that would simultaneously ease the job of analysts and make them more efficient at tackling sophisticated cyber threats, they invented SOAR. Here’s how SOAR resolves the most pertinent cyber security challenges:

  • The skill shortage gap problem: Currently, the demand for skilled security professionals largely outweighs the supply. SOAR helps SOC teams largely nullify this problem by allowing them to automate a wide portion of their security operations, thus reducing the need for hiring more security professionals to handle the growing workload.
  • Balance multiple tools, technologies, and processes: SOAR improves the collaboration of security professionals by using its orchestration functionalities. With SOAR, analysts can easily access any data and control multiple disparate tools via a centralized dashboard.
  • Tackling the sophisticated cyber threats problem: Cloud SOAR relies on its machine learning engine to help security professionals make intelligent and informed decisions when it comes to repelling and remediating cyber threats. Furthermore, Cloud SOAR uses its progressive automation capabilities to learn the characteristics of incoming threats and provide applicable recommendations the next time a threat of a similar nature arrives.
  • Overcoming the “false positive” problem: SOAR leans on its progressive automation capabilities once again to learn which alerts have been labeled as false positives by security professionals and uses that knowledge to autonomously detect whether an alert is a true threat or a false positive.

Security Orchestration, Automation and Response emerged as a much-needed solution to help security teams overcome these persistently evolving challenges. And considering that cyber criminals are already using automation to launch unpredictable attacks, it is only logical to use advanced pieces of security tech to combat those attacks.

The future of cyber security driven by Security Orchestration, Automation and Response

In the recent past, implementing tools driven by security automation was considered a luxury, but today they’re starting to be deemed as a necessity.

Progressive security automation is the key to accelerating security operations to the extremely high level set by sophisticated cyber threats. The logic behind this hypothesis is rather simple:

  • Present-day attackers penetrate security barriers silently and wreak havoc inside an organization completely undetected. Without technologies such as SOAR that allow you to launch proactive threat hunting initiatives, it is virtually not possible to keep up with the level of complexity modern threats pose.
  • Progressive security automation allows analysts to speed up threat assessment by 10x and improve the time needed to respond to threats by 80%. And speed in threat remediation is of vital importance because the more dwell time you leave to attackers the bigger the damage they’re going to cause.

We’ve witnessed how even giant companies have fallen victim to cyber attacks, and the damage they can inflict is truly horrendous. This is why cyber security teams should no longer wait for an alert to start threat hunting but consider implementing proactive threat hunting strategies. That’s where SOAR steps in.

Consider SOAR as the key component of every proactive security strategy you should create. SOAR fuels your analysts’ capabilities by freeing more time to launch proactive threat hunting initiatives, using automation to nullify false positives, and allowing them to have access to any piece of relevant data in a seamless manner.

SOAR acts as connective tissue or a binding agent that brings together all your tools and allows you to extract the biggest value out of all your resources, processes, and technologies at once. And the core pillars that fuel SOAR, such as security automation, orchestration, AI, and machine learning, are the same ones leading for all advanced cyber security tools to follow. So, in fact, it is safe to say that SOAR is the technology that will write the chapter of the next cyber security revolution.

The importance of Open Integration Framework in the next-gen SOAR

Today’s fast-paced digital world dictates the tempo, and cyber security teams can’t afford to fall behind. The development of new technologies is all based on one single premise – flexibility and ease of integration.

Security teams must act quickly and be as efficient as possible when performing everyday operations. This is why security technologies must be crafted with customizability, flexibility, and user-friendliness in mind. In other words, they must incorporate the open-source principle which allows security professionals to have total freedom to align their tools in the manner most optimal to their needs.

In short, the Open Integration Framework principle allows security professionals to:

  • Easily connect and manage disparate tools
  • Customize integrations and align them to their workflow
  • Boost the automation of repetitive actions

Furthermore, Cloud SOAR, as the pioneer of the OIF philosophy has developed its OIF machine learning, also known as ARK (Automated Responder Knowledge), which learns from historical responses to threats and recommends appropriate Playbooks to trigger.

These types of recommendations are of vital importance to security professionals, as in many cases they ease their job and speed up the incident response process drastically.

The benefits of incorporating SOAR into your SOC environment

SOAR adds a new dimension to your existing SOC by introducing progressive automation and security orchestration. Other than that, SOAR offers a myriad of different benefits, such as:

  • Optimized threat intelligence
  • Faster incident response time
  • Better collaboration and optimal use of multiple technologies
  • Improved Standard Operating Procedures
  • Better ROI of your entire cyber security infrastructure
  • Automated reports and easily monitored KPIs
  • Reduced manual operations and better employee retention
  • Minimized cyber attack impact and damages

As you can see, the benefits of incorporating a SOAR solution are undoubtedly immense. Not only does SOAR improve the effectiveness of your entire cyber security department, but it also helps lower your cyber security costs by automating repetitive tasks and minimizing the impact and the damage caused by cyber attacks.

How to prepare your SOC for Security Orchestration, Automation and Response

Even though the benefits of SOAR are immense, the mere implementation of SOAR does not bring instant value. As sophisticated as it may be, SOAR is still a piece of technology that is adamantly seeking human guidance in order to fulfill its full potential.

And to bring out the best of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response, security teams will have to make the necessary preparations:

  • Enhance the cyber security awareness and train your SOC team: Increasing the cyber security awareness in your organization and elevating the knowledge within your team regarding relevant security aspects such as SOPs governance, making quick decisions, managing escalation, and KPI analysis.
  • Map out the tools and processes for optimal performance: SOAR is all about finding the best ways to utilize your existing set of tools and processes and perform security operations in the most efficient way possible.
  • Learn how automating full workflow lifecycles affects your organization: Decide which security operations can be automated and which ones decide your analysts’ attention.

When you incorporate SOAR into your SOC environment, firstly you need to learn how to utilize its strengths as a technology. SOAR gives you the ability to seek opportunities within your current workflow and improve on them. Find out your weak areas and allow SOAR to help you become more efficient at improving them.

SOAR improves the collaboration between analysts and finds the fastest and most efficient way to deal with cyber threats by leaning on its progressive abilities. Your SOC team just needs to guide it in order to extract the best value in the long run.

Furthermore, it is highly relevant that the level of cyber security awareness is elevated across your entire organization, without being limited to your SOC team. Modern cyber attackers exploit the loopholes left by employees with low cyber security awareness, so even though you have the best and most expensive cyber security technologies, the safety of your organization depends on each and every one of your employees taking accountability and being more cyber security-conscious.

Cloud SOAR pioneering the next-gen SOAR solution

We at Sumo Logic have ventured on a relentless quest to build the pioneering SOAR model through our own Cloud SOAR solution, and although Cloud SOAR can never be considered a finished piece and is constantly refined by our team of expert engineers, we’re happy to say we’ve created one of the leading SOAR solutions in the industry.

Cloud SOAR personifies all the great features and benefits we mentioned throughout this article, and as a moving force in the field of Security Orchestration, Automation and Response, Cloud SOAR sets the standard for others to follow:

  • Next-level threat intelligence boosting SOC productivity
  • Improving incident response time
  • Easily orchestrating disparate tools via OIF
  • The highest number of patented technologies in the SOAR industry
  • Significant reduction of false positives
  • Triage of alarms before incidents are created
  • Advanced forensics and case management features
  • Supervised Active Intelligence (SAI) to help SOC teams make well-informed decisions
  • Triage for analysis before the incidents are created

When crafting Cloud SOAR, we’ve taken into consideration the biggest woes present-day security professionals are facing with the goal of making Cloud SOAR closely aligned with your needs.

Conclusion

Security Orchestration, Automation and Response gives a new dimension to SOC teams. Supported by forward-thinking capabilities, such as progressive automation, machine learning, and AI, SOAR provides the means necessary to successfully respond to even the most unpredictable cyber threats.

As the sophistication and complexity of cyber threats continue to grow, so will the need of incorporating a state-of-the-art cyber security solution such as SOAR. In other words, the future of cyber security has SOAR written all over it.


Guest blog courtesy of Sumo Logic. Read more Sumo Logic guest blogs here.

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