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Cybersecurity, Automation and the Future

The past year has seen a significant increase in disruptive cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of emerging technology such as automation to enact cyber threats against vast numbers of industry sectors and organisations.

To meet this increase in cyber threats, organisations need to leverage the same automation technology themselves. Machines are now the new frontier to combat cyber threats. The increased use of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) can help organisations automate security, detection, and response processes. This allows them to reduce their exposure to these threats by reducing both their attack surface and the number of employees who need to be trained in cybersecurity.

What is cybersecurity automation?

Cybersecurity is the protection of internet connected technology systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. Cybercrime is the act of accessing, using or destroying sensitive information, for financial gain, or to interrupt business processes.

Automation of cybersecurity is the use of software to perform a rapid series of security steps across an IT infrastructure. The security automation platform engages when an incident is detected. This can be hacking attempts or threats that occur on networks, via email scans, and so on. The security automation responds accordingly to the cyber event.

Essentially, it’s automating some, or all, of a company’s cybersecurity tasks, to reduce the potential of cyber threats infiltrating an organisation’s IT environment.

Security automation platforms can:

  • Filter data and detect threats in the IT environment
  • Make decisions about events that need to be triaged and investigated
  • Prompt users for input of confirmation to protect IT infrastructure
  • Determine if action is required and the most appropriate response
  • Contain the threat to prevent it spreading, such as delete malware files, quarantining a device from the network
  • Send alerts to IT teams if needed

Automation takes on manual, repetitive tasks that demand vast amounts of human hours, and within set frameworks, can take over activating certain actions and responses. These tasks are actionable in seconds, freeing up the valuable time and resources of security teams to focus on more value-added security strategies.

What is the benefit of cybersecurity automation?

Increasingly, businesses are becoming more reliant on technology, whether it is operations, production, manufacturing, or distribution. Many companies are also connected to other organisations digitally as part of a supply chain network, creating greater collaboration among industry businesses. Cloud computing has grown into a complex and vast ecosystem of technologies, products, and services, allowing far greater connectivity and productivity.

While this fast-paced growth in the digital technology sector has many positives, it increases the threat landscape for many businesses. Cybercriminals are already making use of the same technology, creating a need for businesses to find solutions to keep their data and IT infrastructure protected.

Cybersecurity automation is fast becoming a necessary solution, and the benefits include:

  • More efficient: automation helps speed up the process of collecting data, which then makes responses times faster. Automatically reacting to certain situations helps create a more regulated, efficient atmosphere that’s easier for security teams to operate in.
  • Cost effective and time-saving: by removing the need for repetitive, time consuming tasks from employees, they are free to work on more important aspects of security planning and strategy.
  • Less error: artificial intelligence and machine learning allows vast amounts of data to be searched, much faster and more accurately than any human could, mitigating the higher rate of human error that comes with manual searching.
  • Optimised remediation: identifying and correcting vulnerabilities in the IT environment is much easier. With AI, remediation can be optimised by identifying what is deficient in the environment and updating these areas. This way, security is increased because there are fewer vulnerabilities left to exploit.

The end goal of cybersecurity automation is to enable security experts to focus on strategic tasks that improve security posture, making both cybersecurity tools and staff more efficient.

Security automation can be used to supplement security operations performed by employees or security professional services. Automation tools can identify threats in real time, automate response and deploy workflows without the necessity of human involvement.

man and a woman looking at a computer screen

How did security automation evolve?

Security staff today are tasked with monitoring more information technology than in the past. For example, security staff may need to monitor mobile devices, networks, cloud infrastructure, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

As more new technologies develop, security teams need to monitor them for any vulnerabilities. They’ll need to be proactive in their approach and scan for threats, vulnerabilities, and malware on any device that can access an organisation’s network.

Prior to automation, security analysts would have to comb through and analyse every alert, deciding which to act on and which were false positives – a feat almost impossible to manage in today’s threat landscape.

The sheer number of threats means it’s difficult to react quickly enough, whereas an automated cybersecurity system using artificial intelligence and machine learning can deal with these tasks in seconds.

Most providers today offer security orchestration, automation, and response systems (SOAR) which automate response and corrections. Microsoft Azure Sentinel is one such example of new security tools being used, as it is both a Security Information Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration Automated Response (SOAR) solution.

Why is security automation important?

Before information security was automated, security analysts were investigating every alert, comparing it to known threat intelligence to see if it was legitimate, deciding on action, then resolving the issue. This may be potentially millions of alerts and without reliable or complete data, and much of the time spent on repetitive tasks made the process redundant.

Cyberattacks happen every 39 seconds, and almost all cybersecurity breaches are due to human error. Add to that the fact more devices are being used remotely and connecting to networks that may be unsafe, means implementing effective cybersecurity measures is imperative.

These statistics alone are enough to understand why the future of cybersecurity is automation – it reduces the workload on humans and the potential for error, while freeing up resources to focus on strategic security planning, threat hunting and more robust investigations to improve an organisation’s security position.

Is cybersecurity automation the future?

Businesses keen to implement automation tools generally have two goals in mind: protect their IT environment from cyber threats and benefit from both resource and business efficiencies.

Cyber-attacks can disrupt businesses temporarily, but the aftermath usually holds the largest costs, both financially and in terms of customer confidence. A failure of certain Australian businesses to report cyber breaches can lead to fines as well.

Security automation is no longer a bucket list tool to get in the future. In today’s complex IT environment, cybersecurity automation has become a must-have. With the rapid increase in frequency and severity of cyber-attacks, it’s imperative to meet this threat with the best available solution.

So how to leverage the future of cybersecurity automation for your business?

Automation of security tools allows your business to drastically reduce incident response time. Instead of taking hours, or even days, to respond to alerts and threats, incident response can be reduced to seconds.

This means your business is far less exposed to threats and is in a better position to protect business workflow, customers, reputation and bottom line.

While automation doesn’t replace people, it does take over the simple, repetitive tasks that take up vast amounts of human hours and energy. By doing so in real time, this frees up security staff to focus on more complex strategic issues and creates opportunities for value-added tasks that benefit the company.

It’s never too late to be proactive about your organisation’s security. Contact the cybersecurity experts at Linktech Australia for the best advice and support.