Automating security operations, or SecOps, is one of the most powerful strategies organizations can employ to protect themselves and their data. All too often, however, they don’t leverage it as well as they could.
IT professionals I work with are often surprised to learn how many SecOps capabilities they have at their disposal through the ServiceNow platform. Even those who don’t use a solution such as ServiceNow likely have unused SecOps potential they could tap, bringing security and operations together in ways that reduce risk and support the achievement of business objectives. The industry term for this is SOAR (security orchestration, automation and response). SOAR typically is applied to threat and vulnerability management, incident response and general security operations automation.
Security automation pulls together data from disparate systems to make information more visible and actionable. For example, a solution may not only alert IT teams to a critical vulnerability on enterprise devices but also initiate remediation. It could spot a vulnerability that can be solved with a specific patch, so staff members can determine the best way to solve the problem.
Here are a few of the ways organizations are putting SecOps to work, delivering greater efficiencies and peace of mind to their IT teams.
Improve the Speed and Ease of Use for Security Compliance Reporting
A common use case for security automation is to streamline audit and compliance reporting. Generating these reports can be a heavy lift, and it’s a job that workers often struggle to complete on time. Automating aspects of security makes it much easier to produce these reports and to send them directly to an oversight agency at a regular cadence.
Just tracking down the required information is a common pain point. Data is located everywhere, and as employees leave or change roles within an organization, staff members must find a process owner or establish a new one. Here, workflow-based automation can alert staff members when a certain employee is no longer on a team so that his or her role can be reassigned, facilitating easier reporting down the road. The system can launch reports automatically — say, every 90 days — which makes annual reporting smoother and less likely to reveal any unpleasant surprises.
Add a Layer of Defense to Infrastructure Deployment
Applying SecOps to the orchestration and automation of infrastructure ensures that best practices are integrated as new systems are deployed. With server deployment, for example, there is value in knowing that an underlying process will alert staff members to risk-related issues. If a port is inadvertently left open, for instance, it can be flagged before the server is deployed.
Help Organizations Manage the Volume and Scope of Changes
Automated SecOps helps organizations keep pace with both volume and scope of changes in the environment. Automation makes it far easier to review and refresh systems so they better align with the actual needs of an organization — for example, flagging that a certain firewall rule hasn’t been used in a year and then making the appropriate adjustments. Similarly, automating patch deployment frees up IT staff members to focus on other priorities, without letting security protections lag.
Finally, automation offers enormous efficiencies where vulnerability management is concerned. Some organizations may need to address thousands of vulnerabilities in a day. SecOps enables IT teams to prioritize these risks and automate their remediation. The manual — and time-consuming — alternative is to require security analysts to sort through a massive list instead.
Many organizations already have many of these tools in place to deliver the data they need to build a SecOps model, which means they’re halfway there already. The next step is to consolidate that data into a central point of automation and control.