As industrial organizations face more sophisticated cyber threats, they must improve their security posture to stay ahead of the attackers. Security orchestration and automation can help by consolidating security tools and processes, and automating repetitive tasks. This approach can help reduce the workload of security teams, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of security operations.
In recent years, cyber threats have come at organizations from many directions. Attackers may try to gain access to systems manually or through bots, but they’re also able to exploit vulnerabilities in embedded devices, such as sensors and meters. To protect sensitive data and critical services, security teams must quickly identify and address these vulnerabilities.
The role of security teams is changing to address this new threat landscape. Rather than being focused solely on prevention, security teams are now responsible for identifying and monitoring access to systems and sensitive data once attackers have gained a foothold. To effectively perform this security monitoring function, they must aggregate and analyze large volumes of security data. They must also quickly identify and respond to emerging threats. Automating security tasks can help reduce the strain on security teams, allowing them to focus on more advanced and challenging work.
Security orchestration and automation
Security orchestration integrates security tools and processes in a coordinated way to address an organization’s specific security needs. Orchestration allows security teams to automate repetitive tasks, such as configuring, monitoring, and updating security configurations for devices from multiple vendors. By handling the details of these tasks, orchestration can make security processes more efficient and help address security gaps more quickly. For example, an organization with multiple vendors’ devices might have security tools that are incompatible with each other. Orchestration can help secure these devices by bridging these gaps, which allows the security team to securely operate the entire infrastructure.
While orchestration can greatly improve security, it should be done carefully. With some having vendor lock-ins and compatibility issues, integrating security tools and systems from multiple vendors may not always be feasible. In such cases, it may be better to maintain independent clouds for security monitoring and automation and use an orchestration engine to interface with these clouds as necessary.
Automation, a subset of software-defined technology, enables software or systems to perform tasks without the involvement of a human being. Security automation involves using software to monitor, detect, respond to and recover from security incidents. With automation, security teams can reduce the time it takes to respond to security incidents and bring them down quickly.
For example, if a network intrusion detection system detects a malware infection, automation could disallow access to the infected device and send a notification to the security team. While the security team gears up to address the incident, automation could also quarantine other devices at risk of infection and update security controls.
While automation can help security teams address incidents more quickly, it also presents a danger if not implemented properly. For example, if a security team deploys an automated response for a malware infection that blocks access to infected devices, but does not update the configuration later on, the affected devices could end up being locked out permanently. Because of this, security orchestration ensures that automated systems and tools are configured and operate as intended.