SOAR: How It Works and How It Can Benefit Your Security Operations

Cyber security is a crucial aspect of operations. It refers to strategies and technologies that protect systems and data, including sensitive data, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information (PII), from security issues, such as theft, unauthorised use, and damage.

Now, more than ever, the world is facing threats from security incidents. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated as technology continues to evolve. While leveraging solutions, such as cloud services and increased connectivity, has its share of benefits, it also exposes users to inherent and residual security threats.

Data breaches can come from anywhere and can affect anyone. Office systems and small businesses can also be vulnerable to such security threats.

Malware threats, for example, rose to an average of 588 threats per minute in the third quarter of 2020. In the fourth quarter, it increased to an average of 648 threats per minute. Such threats have a big impact on sectors including public administration, and science and technology. Furthermore, office malware increased to 199 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Security threats can put a lot of strain on security teams. Security software solutions, particularly SOAR, can make security operations more efficient. It enables security staff to efficiently respond to security incidents and automate responses to security events.

But what is SOAR? What other security strategies can you implement to prevent such security incidents?

 

What is SOAR?

If you’ve been constantly searching for security solutions or ways to make your cyber security measures more efficient, then you may have heard of SOAR.

What is SOAR, and how can it help you fortify your security systems?

It’s not just a buzzword for cyber security systems. It’s a powerful and robust tool that provides organisations with an approach to threat management systems, automates event response processes, and streamlines and optimizes security systems. You can customise it to fit your organisation’s unique needs, and it frees up your IT staff, enabling them to tackle other more complex issues.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) refers to systems and technologies that enable teams to quickly and efficiently respond to cyber security attacks. It also bolsters your security operations by allowing you to enhance your security measures.

SOAR helps your security team with collecting data about cyber security threats from various sources and automating responses to security events.

 

How Does Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response Work?

Gartner first coined the term “SOAR”, which also identified its three software capabilities, namely managing threats and vulnerabilities, responding to security event incidents, and automating security operations.

Security Orchestration

Security orchestration is a tool for improving your security response. It brings together disparate security solutions, such as firewalls, end-user behaviour analytics, and vulnerability scanners, and makes them work together, enabling you to collect data from multiple sources, streamline workflows, and efficiently export data.

Security orchestration bolsters your system’s capability of detecting threats, responding to phishing threats, and automating systems such as malware analysis, VPN checks, and vulnerability management.

Security Automation

As IT systems and infrastructure continue to grow and evolve, so do threats. Managing each unit can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with large and complex networks.

Turning to manual operations can lead to errors, slower responses, and inconsistencies in policy implementation, which can make your systems vulnerable and compromise their functionality.

Security automation minimises the need for human intervention, effectively reducing the risk of human error. It leverages technology and systems that collect data and security alerts to analyse data, creating automated processes such as threat hunting and security incident response. SOAR can streamline and standardise tasks that data or security analysts used to do, such as scanning vulnerabilities and checking tickets.

Moreover, security automation is capable of leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to fully utilise insights from collected data. This, in turn, helps you with security operations automation, enable SOAR platforms to automate responses for future attacks, and make appropriate recommendations for addressing cyber security threats.

Security Response

SOAR platforms offer security analysts a single 360-degree view into the processes that go into security response when SOAR detects a threat. This includes planning, management, monitoring, and reporting the measures taken at the onset of threat detection. Security response also covers post-incident response activities.

 

 

How SOAR Benefits Your Security Operations

It comes as no surprise that security teams work with disparate security technologies and multiple systems. This can hamper your efficiency and response times. Additionally, implementing manual processes for threat detection and response can lead to many errors. You may also lack individuals who are capable of addressing such issues.

SOAR enables your security operations team to create standardised responses to security issues, stay up to date with important alerts, efficiently utilise resources, and minimise the impact of security threats.

Let’s elaborate on some SOAR benefits for your overall security operations:

  • Streamline operations

SOAR platforms can contribute to streamlining your security operations. Its three components, which are security orchestration, automation, and response, create a system that promotes standardisation and efficiency.

 

Security orchestration lets you aggregate data from multiple sources, while security automation can automate tasks and be programmed to handle low-priority alerts and incidents through automated playbooks. The incident response component minimises cyberattack dwell times and gives more precise event handling measures, minimising the negative impact that such security threats can have on your organisation.

 

  • Minimise the impact of cyberattacks

The longer it takes for your security system to detect and respond to an attack, the bigger the damage it can cause.

SOAR provides you with security tools that can reduce the impact of cyberattacks. Again, SOAR’s three components play a major role in mitigating the effect of security threats.

It manages critical metrics such as mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR) by providing security analysts with in-depth insights into each security incident for improved incident management.

MTTD refers to the time it takes from when a security issue first appears to when your security operations centre detects it. This metric is crucial because undetected and unresolved threats can adversely impact your business and operations. Unresolved threats can deter clients, affecting customer loyalty and negatively affecting your reputation.

MTTR is the average time it takes for your system to respond to and recover from failure from when you were first alerted of the issue.

Your security personnel will be able to save time on gathering pertinent information and can start focussing on looking into the security alert. Security automation lets your security team and systems address alerts and incidents in real time, reducing mean time to respond rates.

 

  • Standardised communication

Communication is crucial when dealing with cyber security threats.

 

Incident handling and response, especially when it involves major disruptions, can involve other teams outside your security operations centre (SOC). Dealing with multiple systems can make communications chaotic and restricts the flow of reliable information.

 

A good SOAR platform should have a centralised communications feature that ensures that your communications are standardised so everyone involved, be it your security personnel or stakeholders outside your SOC, can have access to all the relevant information related to your incident response measures.

 

  • Faster response time

Your security incident response platforms allow faster incident response.

 

SOAR’s security orchestration feature is capable of aggregating multiple alerts coming from different systems, creating a single incident for greater efficiency. Security automation doesn’t require the need for human intervention and instead allows the system to respond to alerts automatically.

 

  • Optimised threat intelligence

A good SOAR platform has optimised threat intelligence tools.

 

When facing a security incident, you’ll no doubt be dealing with a lot of security information, some of which may not be critical for incident response. Threat intelligence only adds to the pile of information that your SOC will be sorting through.

The best SOAR solutions are capable of working with threat intelligence platforms and connecting the information collected with security events in real time. This effectively filters the information you’re getting and gives your SOC actionable information.

SOAR Limitations and Challenges

While SOAR’s numerous capabilities and benefits can make it seem like it’s an all-in-one solution, it’s not. SOAR still has its limitations and implementing it comes with several challenges.

One such limitation is it’s not designed to replace your security team.

Yes, SOAR boosts efficiency with its automation capabilities, but it still needs human counterparts for operation. Moreover, your SOAR platform is only as good as the people who operate it.

You need to have a security team that’s capable of creating documentation and workflows to make SOAR operational. They should also have a thorough understanding of their environment, so they can collect and analyse the metrics coming from SOAR.

One of the greatest challenges of adopting SOAR is the complexity of deploying it. Again, you need to have a security team that’s knowledgeable about SOAR systems and how they can be integrated into your existing technology stack.

If you’re unable to fully connect your SOAR platform to your other networks and security systems, then you’ll be unable to fully utilise its capabilities. SOAR’s strength lies in its ability to connect with other technologies to implement its orchestration, automation, and incident response capabilities.

However, these limitations and challenges shouldn’t deter you from incorporating SOAR into your security strategies. The benefits that come with using SOAR far outweigh the challenges.

 

Which Is Right for You: SIEM or SOAR?

When it comes to data security, there are plenty of solutions to choose from, one of which is SIEM or Security Information and Event Management.

SIEM is a security technology that collects security data from various sources. It stores and aggregates this data, then analyses the data with tools like machine learning and specialised analytics software.

SIEM combines the features and functionality of security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM). It provides users with real-time analysis of alerts generated by various sources.

Overall, SIEM collects large amounts of data, aggregates that, and transforms it into something that’s more accessible for your SOC. However, you might have noticed that SIEM has some similarities with SOAR. In fact, these two terms are used interchangeably even if they’re referring to two very different technologies.

SIEM vs. SOAR

Both solutions help security teams manage security threats better. However, it’s worth noting that SIEM and SOAR tackle different needs.

SIEM aggregates and correlates data from different security systems, while SOAR provides solutions based on the data and alerts gathered by SIEM. SOAR is focussed on automating processes, allowing security teams to prioritise security threats and address them efficiently and more effectively.

In the SIEM vs. SOAR debate, there’s no clear winner. Both are powerful tools that, when used together, can greatly improve your security team’s effectiveness. If you’re already using SIEM, you can add a SOAR solution to complement SIEM’s limitations.

 

The Right Security Tools for Security Teams

The world of cyber security can be a tad confusing, especially if you’re dealing with multiple security solutions. GA Systems simplifies the quest for finding the right security solutions for your organisation.

Align your security strategy with your goals and start protecting your digital assets. We offer managed security services, penetration testing, integration services, and security training. Meet industry compliance requirements and stay protected in a world of ever-evolving cyber threats.

Make data-informed decisions and say hello to smarter security operations with GA System’s SOAR solutions. Talk to our security experts today!

 

FAQs

1.     What is SOAR?

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response or SOAR is a security platform that collects and aggregates data from multiple sources. It leverages human resources and machine learning capabilities to analyse and respond to low-level cyber security threats.

SOAR plays an important role in cyber security. It can automate incident response processes, giving you a more streamlined approach to security incident response and operations. It enables collaborations between teams and paves the way for enhanced case and data management processes. Since it is able to automate certain processes, SOAR tools can improve analyst productivity and response procedures, and lessen the time it takes to address cyber security threats.

2.     What is the purpose of SOAR?

SOAR is a widely used cyber security solution to combat or mitigate the effects of cyberattacks. You use it in tandem with other security systems like security information and event management (SIEM) to bolster the capabilities of your security operations centre.

It’s also capable of separating genuine security threats from false positives. SOAR is designed to minimise the challenges that exist when working with several security systems, allowing greater speed and efficiency.

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