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Automated Cybersecurity: Benefits, Challenges & More

2023-08-22T14:37:00.000Z13 min read

Cybersecurity

As cyberattacks become increasingly automated, our defenses must automate to match. 

Cybersecurity has come a long way since the early days of the internet, when hackers were mostly hobbyists and pranksters. Nowadays, cyberattacks are more sophisticated, frequent, and damaging than ever before. Cybercriminals use advanced techniques and tools to exploit vulnerabilities in networks, systems, and applications. They can steal data, disrupt operations, extort money, or even sabotage critical infrastructure.

To keep up with these evolving threats, organizations need to adopt a proactive and agile approach to cybersecurity. That's where automated cybersecurity comes in. Automation can help security teams perform tasks faster, more accurately, and more efficiently than manual methods. It can also help them detect and respond to cyberattacks before they cause serious harm.

Here are the key things you need to know about automated cybersecurity:

  • Automated cybersecurity is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate security tasks and processes with limited human intervention.
  • Automated cybersecurity can help security teams with threat intelligence, security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), and automated penetration testing.
  • Automated cybersecurity can provide many benefits, such as a faster response rate, improved investigation accuracy, fewer risks to the business, less alert fatigue, cost and time savings.
  • Automated cybersecurity also faces some challenges, such as usage by cybercriminals, high adoption barriers, and ethical and legal issues.

[Table of Contents]

What Is Automated Cybersecurity?

Automated cybersecurity is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate security tasks and processes. AI is the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, decision making, and problem solving. ML is a subset of AI that enables machines to learn from data and improve their performance without explicit programming.

Automated cybersecurity leverages AI and ML to analyze large volumes of data from various sources, such as network devices, applications, logs, sensors, etc. It can then identify patterns, anomalies, and correlations that indicate potential threats or vulnerabilities. It can also execute predefined actions or recommend solutions to mitigate or prevent cyberattacks.

Automated cybersecurity differs from manual cybersecurity practices in several ways. Manual cybersecurity relies on human analysts to monitor, investigate, and respond to security incidents. This can be time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient. Small teams struggle to cover the weekend shifts, and cyber criminals know this. Manual cybersecurity also suffers from scalability issues, as it cannot cope with the increasing complexity and volume of cyber threats.

Automated cybersecurity can overcome these limitations by augmenting human capabilities with machine intelligence. It can perform tasks faster, more accurately, and more efficiently than humans. It can also scale up or down as needed to meet the changing security demands.

If you want to learn more about cybersecurity in general, check out this blog post: Cybersecurity: The Most Important Topic Your Team Can Learn About This Year

The Need for Automation in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is facing many challenges in the current digital landscape. Some of these challenges are:

  • The increasing complexity of cyber threats: Cybercriminals are constantly developing new techniques and tools to bypass security defenses. They use stealthy methods such as malware obfuscation, encryption, polymorphism, etc. They also target new technologies such as cloud computing and IoT devices that pose new security risks.
  • The growing skills gap: There is a shortage of qualified security professionals who can handle the increasing workload and complexity of cybersecurity. According to a report by (ISC)2, there were 3.12 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally in 2020. This gap is expected to widen in the future as the demand for security skills outstrips the supply.
  • The limited resources: Security teams often have limited budgets, time, and tools to deal with the growing number of security incidents. They have to prioritize the most critical issues and neglect the less urgent ones. This can lead to missed opportunities or delayed responses that can have serious consequences.

Automation can help address these challenges by supporting security teams with data and machine intelligence. Automation can help security teams with:

  • Threat detection: Automation can help security teams identify threats faster and more accurately by analyzing large amounts of data from various sources. It can also help them filter out false positives and focus on the most relevant alerts.
  • Threat response: Automation can help security teams respond to threats more effectively by executing predefined actions or recommending solutions. It can also help them automate workflows and processes to streamline security operations and reduce human errors.
  • Threat prevention: Automation can help security teams prevent threats before they cause damage by proactively scanning for vulnerabilities and patching them. It can also help them simulate attacks and test their defenses to identify and fix weaknesses.

Key Components of Automated Cybersecurity

Automated cybersecurity consists of several components that work together to provide a comprehensive and integrated security solution. Some of the key components are:

Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIPs)

TIPs are platforms that collect, analyze, and disseminate threat intelligence from various sources, such as open source, commercial, or proprietary. Threat intelligence is information about current or emerging cyber threats, such as indicators of compromise (IOCs), tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), threat actors, etc. TIPs help security teams gain situational awareness and contextual understanding of the threat landscape. They also help them prioritize and respond to the most relevant threats.

Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

SOAR is a term that describes the combination of security orchestration, automation, and response capabilities. Security orchestration is the process of integrating and coordinating various security tools and systems to create a unified security environment. Security automation is the process of automating security tasks and processes to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Security response is the process of taking actions or providing solutions to mitigate or prevent cyberattacks. SOAR helps security teams streamline security operations, optimize workflows, and enhance collaboration.

Automated Penetration Testing

Automated penetration testing is the process of using automated tools and techniques to simulate cyberattacks on a system or network to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. Automated penetration testing helps security teams assess their security posture, find and fix weaknesses, and improve their defenses. Automated penetration testing differs from manual penetration testing in that it can perform tests faster, more frequently, and more consistently than human testers.

If you want to learn more about how to secure your small business, check out this blog post.

The Benefits of Automated Cybersecurity

  • Enhanced threat detection and faster response times.
    • With automation, you can detect and respond to cyber threats more quickly and efficiently. Automation can help you analyze large volumes of data, identify patterns and anomalies, and take action before the damage is done.
  • Reduction in human error.
    • Human error is one of the most common causes of security breaches. Automation can help you reduce the risk of human error by performing tasks that are repetitive, complex, or prone to mistakes. Automation can also help you enforce security policies and standards across your organization.
  • Cost efficiency in the long term.
    • Automation can help you save money in the long run by reducing the need for manual labor, increasing productivity, and optimizing resources. Automation can also help you avoid the costs of downtime, data loss, and reputation damage caused by cyberattacks.

Potential Challenges and Concerns

When you hand over control of your processes to an automated system, you introduce complications both real and perceived. 

  • Concerns over machine errors or misjudgments
    • Some people may worry that automation may make mistakes or decisions that are not in line with their expectations or preferences. For example, automation may block legitimate traffic, flag false positives, or miss subtle indicators of compromise.
  • Over-reliance on automation
    • Some people may become too dependent on automation and neglect their own skills and responsibilities. For example, they may ignore alerts, fail to update their systems, or overlook human factors such as user behavior and awareness.
  • The ever-evolving nature of cyber threats
    • Some people may doubt that automation can keep up with the constantly changing and sophisticated cyber threats. For example, they may wonder how automation can deal with zero-day attacks, advanced persistent threats, or social engineering.

Examples of Automated Cybersecurity

  • Automated vulnerability scanning and patching. This is the process of automatically scanning your systems for vulnerabilities and applying patches to fix them. This can help you prevent hackers from exploiting known weaknesses in your software or hardware. Here are some popular tools for automating vulnerability scanning. 
  • Automated incident response and remediation. This is the process of automatically detecting and responding to security incidents and restoring normal operations. This can help you minimize the impact and duration of a breach and prevent it from spreading or recurring. Check out the top incident response tools on G2 here
  • Automated threat intelligence and analysis. This is the process of automatically collecting and analyzing information about current and emerging cyber threats. This can help you understand the threat landscape, identify trends and patterns, and prioritize your actions.

Processes That Shouldn't Be Automated

  • Security strategy and governance. This is the process of defining your security goals, policies, roles, and responsibilities. This requires human input and oversight to ensure alignment with your business objectives, compliance requirements, and risk appetite.
  • Security awareness and education. This is the process of training your employees on security best practices, policies, and procedures. This requires human interaction and feedback to ensure engagement, retention, and behavior change.
  • Security testing and evaluation. This is the process of testing and evaluating your security controls, systems, and processes. This requires human judgment and creativity to simulate realistic scenarios, identify gaps and weaknesses, and recommend improvements.

How to Prepare for Automated Cybersecurity

Implementing automated cybersecurity will take some planning and ramping-up. Here are some steps to get you started.

#1. Create a Strategy

  • Assess your current security posture and identify their pain points, gaps, and opportunities.
    • You need to understand where you are now and where you want to be in terms of security maturity, performance, compliance, and resilience. You also need to identify the areas that are most suitable for automation, such as repetitive, manual, or error-prone tasks.
  • Define your automation goals, objectives, metrics, and scope.
    • You need to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with automation, how you will measure your success, and what are the boundaries and limitations of your project. You also need to align your automation goals with your business goals and stakeholder expectations.
  • Research and evaluate different automation tools, platforms, and vendors.
    • You need to find the best fit for your needs, budget, and environment. You should compare the features, benefits, costs, and risks of different options and conduct proof-of-concept tests or demos before making a decision.
  • Plan your automation roadmap, budget, timeline, and resources.
    • You need to have a realistic and detailed plan of how you will implement your automation project, including the steps, milestones, dependencies, roles, responsibilities, and deliverables. You also need to allocate sufficient budget, time, and resources for your project and anticipate any potential challenges or risks.

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#2. Implement Team Training

  • Educate your team on the benefits, challenges, and best practices of automation.
    • Explain why automation is important for your team's goals, what are the potential pitfalls to avoid, and how to follow the best practices for designing, implementing, and maintaining automation solutions. You can use case studies, webinars, podcasts, or articles to share relevant information and insights with your team.
  • Train your team on how to use, manage, monitor, and troubleshoot automation tools.
    • Provide hands-on training sessions, tutorials, guides, or videos to help your team get familiar with the automation tools you are using or planning to use. Make sure your team knows how to configure, run, test, and debug the automation scripts or workflows. You can also create a knowledge base or a FAQ document to answer common questions and issues related to the automation tools.
  • Upskill your team on new skills such as data analysis, scripting, or coding.
    • Automation often requires some level of technical skills, such as data analysis, scripting, or coding. Depending on your team's current skill level and the complexity of the automation tasks, you may need to provide some training or coaching to help your team acquire or improve these skills. You can use online courses, workshops, books, or mentors to support your team's learning journey.
  • Empower your team to collaborate with other teams such as IT or DevOps.
    • Automation is not a siloed activity. It often involves working with other teams such as IT or DevOps to ensure the alignment, integration, and security of the automation solutions. Encourage your team to communicate and coordinate with other teams regularly, share feedback and suggestions, and leverage their expertise and resources. You can also use tools such as Slack, Teams, or Jira to facilitate collaboration and visibility across teams.

#3. Integrate Your Systems & Data

  • Consolidate your security systems and data sources into a centralized platform or dashboard.
    • This will help you reduce complexity, improve visibility, and streamline workflows. You can use a security information and event management (SIEM) solution, a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platform, or a cloud-based security service to achieve this.
  • Standardize your security data formats, protocols, and APIs.
    • This will help you ensure compatibility, interoperability, and consistency across your security systems and data sources. You can use common data formats, such as JSON or XML, common protocols, such as HTTPS or MQTT, and common APIs, such as REST or GraphQL, to achieve this.
  • Automate your data collection, ingestion, processing, and storage.
    • This will help you save time, resources, and bandwidth. You can use scripts, tools, or services to automate these tasks. For example, you can use cron jobs to schedule data collection, use Kafka or RabbitMQ to ingest data streams, use Spark or Flink to process data in real time or batch mode, and use S3 or HDFS to store data in the cloud or on-premises.
  • Ensure your data quality, accuracy, and security.
    • This will help you avoid errors, anomalies, and breaches. You can use techniques such as data validation, cleansing, enrichment, encryption, hashing, and masking to achieve this.

Improve Your Security Posture With TeamPassword

Automated cybersecurity can offer many benefits for your organization, such as enhanced threat detection, reduced human error, and cost efficiency. However, it also comes with some challenges and concerns, such as machine errors, over-reliance, and evolving threats. Therefore, you need to prepare well before implementing automated cybersecurity. You need to create a strategy, implement team training, and integrate your systems and data.

One way to make this process easier is to use TeamPassword. TeamPassword is a password manager that helps teams securely store and share passwords across apps and services. With TeamPassword, you can:

  • Save time and hassle by logging in to your apps and services with one click.
  • Reduce the risk of password breaches by generating strong and unique passwords for each account.
  • Simplify password management by organizing your passwords into groups and granting access to your team members.
  • Enhance password security by keeping your credentials in a vault secured with two-factor authentication AES 256-bit encryption.

If you're ready to take your cybersecurity to the next level, try TeamPassword today. You can sign up for a free trial or reach out to us and request a demo. We're happy to answer any questions you have! 

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