SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Why answering the question of orchestration vs automation will improve your security effectiveness

By Contributor
Mon 3 Aug 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by ThreatQuotient director of APJC, Anthony Stitt.

The investment in security operations is at an all-time high. AustCyber's ‘Australia's Cybersecurity Sector Competitiveness Plan’ shows spend on security operations makes up more than 40% of all cybersecurity spending (AU$1.58 billion in 2018), with cyber spending growth outpacing IT spending growth by nearly two to one. 

The report also highlights Australia’s current cybersecurity skills shortage, and projected worsening gap in this coming decade, especially in labour-intensive areas like security operations.

Organisations are looking to improve their security operations effectiveness, efficiency, and staff satisfaction, with security, orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) fast becoming a trending approach. 

However, experiences from early SOAR adopters suggest implementation has its challenges, but there are rewards for those that achieve an effective implementation.

Determining how orchestration and automation will best improve your security operation’s effectiveness takes asking the right questions about what technology approach is best for the business. This is not the same as simply buying the best technology on paper – it’s about adopting technology that fits with your business, security operations capabilities, and cyber strategy. 

Analyst firms like Gartner say SOAR is actually three interrelated, but largely disparate, capabilities: cyber threat intelligence (CTI), incident response (IR) and security automation and orchestration (SOA). 

These ‘capabilities’ work in unison to help manage many common security operations use cases, including alert triage, threat and vulnerability prioritisation, and threat hunting.

However, the majority of security practitioners have a narrower view of the market, tending to focus on automation and orchestration capabilities because the leading SOA vendors offer the kind of graphical workflow and playbook features associated with the ‘SOAR’ name. 

The case for SOAR is compelling for organisations due to the financial benefits of increasing efficiency and effectiveness, with employees able to focus on the interesting tasks instead of the mundane. 

So, where are the pitfalls then? In most cases, SOAR projects take longer to execute and implement, cost more and have a smaller scope of benefit than expected.

Practically by definition, SOAR works across different groups within security operations and this challenges many large organisations. Larger organisations have separate teams for security operations centre analysis, incident response, threat intelligence, vulnerability management, and threat hunting. 

Coordinating a SOAR project and its implementation across these various teams is incredibly time-consuming, in addition to raising budgetary and staff allocation issues. 

As a result, organisations start with a compelling number of possible use cases, before falling back to a few basic automations, which are often limited to the team that initiated the SOAR implementation in the first place. Therefore, projects have a tendency to be descoped from the Gartner SOAR definition and back to a pure SOA project, losing some of the cross-functional benefits along the way.

Further, in most organisations, the teams within security operations predominantly work within their specific remits, using their specific tools. For example, the security operations team spends the majority of their time in the security information & event management (SIEM) system, the intelligence team uses the threat intelligence platform (TIP) and the incident response team uses the case management system. 

This is to be expected, although adopting a SOAR platform that requires teams and employees to work outside of their ‘go-to’ systems, will create significant operational and organisational challenges.

Equally, it’s important to consider that an orchestration workflow within a SOAR platform may simply be an automated action of another system. For example, enriching Indicators of Compromise (IoCs) using a resource like VirusTotal, is an orchestration workflow spanning an intelligence source (potentially a TIP), a SIEM, and VirusTotal. 

However, enriching IOCs is an out-of-the-box automation for a threat intelligence platform. Similarly, many of the cross-functional SOAR workflows are actually automations in other tools.

Organisations considering security orchestration, automation and response will achieve their best results by being clear on the operational outcomes they want to achieve. Is phishing email analysis a major pain point? Or is alert triage the most time-consuming activity? Is your team spending way too much time manually collecting and enriching threat intelligence? 

It’s important for organisations to categorise use-cases by the group or team they fall within and identify the ones that span more than a single team. Asking which solution from the threat intelligence platform, incident response platform or security automation and orchestration platform is the right fit, is also fundamental to effective adoption.

You may be thinking: ‘Why do I need to choose the right platform? Surely, I can get a complete SOAR solution today.’ Despite the analyst definition of SOAR, attaining this has some trade-offs because the platforms currently available are strongest in their historical domains. 

For example, orchestration platforms can cache threat indicators for subsequent decision making, yet this still falls short of the capabilities that buyers demand in a commercial TIP. 

Likewise, a TIP has the ability to automate many intelligence workflows and become a central memory of threats that SOAR operations can evolve from, yet may not offer the same depth of nuanced decision making as a dedicated orchestration platform. 

Interestingly, many of the compelling SOAR use-cases are threat intelligence-related. Activities like analysing phishing emails, enriching indicators of compromise, automating intelligence feeds, providing threat context to SOC analysts and prioritising vulnerability patching are just some of the more popular workflows. 

Automating these activities is something you can do in a threat intelligence platform alone. Alternatively, if a full SOAR capability suits your organisation’s needs, the majority of the platforms interoperate, allowing each team to continue using the best-of-breed tools they require to be effective.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
Story image
Document Management
NZ's FileInvite raises $10M in latest investment round
FileInvite has raised $10 million in Series A investment to fast-forward the extinction of email for requesting and collecting documents online.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
Story image
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
SaaS
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.
Story image
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.