Security Operation Center (SOC) units are facing a fundamental set of challenges; unprecedented hand-operated workload, a growing number of security tools, and an increasing requirement to hire and retain qualified cybersecurity professionals. In a sense, SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response) is the ultimate solution for these problems and more and truly can develop the capability of security operations. 

According to Gartner, 70% of companies with dedicated security operations will use SOAR tools by 2021, up from less than 5% in 2018. This gain is triggered by an enhanced requirement to report on and analyze security operations. The skill deficit and increasing intensification in the threat activity arouse the shift to full and semi-automation of operational activities. 
Now the question is who needs SOAR? Or is your security operation mature enough for SOAR? Let’s take a look at it.


Who needs SOAR?

The answer is the understaffed security organizations require SOAR solutions. According to Gartner's research, from February 2018 to January 2019, there were more than three hundred thousand job openings in the cybersecurity sector. Security orchestration, automation and response tools were developed to help close this skills gap. 

In other words, SOAR efforts ensure to automate the regular work of cybersecurity, which provides various significant advantages, for example, normal but necessary patch management duties. First, SOAR decreases the company's cybersecurity staffing responsibility by decreasing the number of job processes that involve human intrusion. Second, SOAR applications serve to target the more normal chores allotted to security experts, enabling them to concentrate on more critical work that utilizes their expertise and skills.

SOAR — diving deep

Over the years, the number of alerts demanding an investigation from your security teams has increased. Companies would need a large team of analysts to verify each alert and without adequate staffing, companies can be adversely influenced by the large volume of incidents that their analysts are anticipated to address in time. One of the most mind-numbing jobs for SOC analysts is to collect the details of an alert and then to: 

● Validate — discover if the threat is real 
● Respond — organize an appropriate response.

The regular ‘cut-copy-paste’ tasks for sorting alerts only gives them one question, “Will I ever get the time to really ‘investigate’ ?” As an instance, phishing investigations include several small chores, from scanning potential emails for malware to analyzing any URLs present in these emails with the lists of identified bad phishing websites. Now think examining 40 such alerts in a day. This is where security orchestration and automation come into fighting — to reduce the similarity of executing such tasks manually. 

● Security Orchestration is combining different security tools to automate methods. 

● Security Automation is having applications execute operations that were otherwise accomplished manually. 

Security orchestration is the movement of consolidating different technologies and combining security tools to make them experts for pulling together and developing an incident response. For example, consider that one of the workers of a company submits an email to the SOC. The analysts at SOC will check the legitimacy of the sender through threat intelligence and the origin of the email through a DNS tool. After that, hyperlinks are received from the email to check their validity via URL reputation. 

The analysts either run all email attachments on a sandbox or terminate a link in a guarded environment. This program is executed for every reported email.
Now, companies may get thousands of malicious emails every day. Is it possible to study each reported email manually? This is where security orchestration and automation come into place. It automates data compilation for each malicious email in a distinct place. Based on the data, analysts can discover whether the email is malicious or not. In the event of finding, the security orchestration playbook will respond to the incident and apply remediation.

It's tiresome, error-prone and challenging: Any analyst whoever studied the logs produced by a security control understands the underlying truth of this job. Searching through the millions of log events produced each day is a thankless job that, very honestly, is often left unperformed, particularly in this time, with an increasing cybersecurity skills gap. SOAR handles this by taking it to the next level by enabling those automated reports to trigger acknowledgments.


Let us now take a look at why we need to automate our security operations.

Speed up Security Operations with SOAR

Speed is not simple to accomplish even for the best security teams. Moreover, SOC analysts are expected to complete a lot of security operations, for instance, copy-pasting information to complete threat intelligence lookups and so on that slow them down. Teams are struggling to keep up with this ever-growing collection of a simple yet common set of monotonous tasks which increases investigation time. 

SOAR sets the clock back with automation and orchestration. It automates these monotonous tasks, prioritizes important events, streamlines security tools and processes for more agile actions.

Also, many companies now buy threat intelligence support services that provide false positive free and up-to-date security threat information. These services often incorporate IP address account feeds that recognize the addresses of identified malicious actors in expected real-time. These feeds give another possibility for security automation. By combining threat intelligence feeds with SOAR into firewalls, routers and intrusion prevention systems, security units can automatically prevent identified malicious addresses before they even try an attack.


Advantages of SOAR

Let us now have a look at what SOAR is capable of, which makes it worth a look


Enrichment:  Context and data enrichment in SOAR helps security teams immediately visualize the who, what and when of an alert to advance the investigation and make better decisions. This required context is not simple to obtain with the conventional SOC footprint. 

Time dedicated to collecting all important data about a case is recognized as the most time-consuming movement for Security Operations. The advantages of this characteristic are multifold when an event is enriched before it is recorded, rather than at the time of association which can make the system slow and almost impossible to work with. 


Validation: Validation ‘bolds’ the fine line for analysts - to analyze if an event is simply an alert or a possible attack. Once labeled, incident handlers can take a step forward towards - Response.  With playbooks in the design, two analysts no longer require to rack their brains on determining the result for the same alert. It completely reduces the human dependency of concluding.


Response: SOAR allows businesses to improve their response strategies, which are recognized to decrease the response time by 60%. This ability restricts an attacker from settling in for a longer time, locking them out of the system before any data can be compromised.


Conclusion

It is clear how SOAR helps in effective threat hunting and responding to them most efficiently. Thus we can say that automating security operations and processes is no longer a “good to have”, but a “must-have”.