Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) is a technology designed to help organizations simplify security operations tasks. A main function of SOAR is to help lighten the load on talent-constrained security teams by streamlining areas such as vulnerability management, incident response, and security operations management through automation on a single platform.
SOAR is comprised of orchestration and automation which offers a natural solution to help security teams resolve task-based challenges (through security automation) and process-based challenges (through security orchestration).
Let’s dive into the key obstacles SOAR technology can address.
Throughout the years, the cybersecurity market continues to introduce new tools and cutting-edge technology in threat detection. These tools shed light on the attack surface by providing better visibility into your business’s endpoints, networks, and user behavior, to holistically monitor suspicious activity across your security infrastructure.
It’s estimated that businesses suffered 50% more cyberattack attempts per week in 2021. Intrusions are on the rise and as a result your security team gets flooded with alerts. SOAR alleviates your IT security team’s alert fatigue by giving analysts the ability to automate playbooks and quickly respond to types of alerts through predefined steps.
SOAR can help eliminate manual processes carried out by your organization’s security team. These strict processes include detailed step-by-step tasks your team must perform as they analyze and respond to threats. A common challenge with manual processes is that they slow the SecOps workflow, involving a set of routine actions that aren’t readily shared from experienced experts to newly hired security staff.
Between SIEM, EDR, threat intelligence, and an array of cybersecurity tools, security teams must pivot between technologies when detecting, investigating, and triaging alerts. SOAR solutions help connect and integrate disparate security tools, environments, and systems. The SOAR solution breaks down silos in threat intelligence data to bridge the gap in information collected from various security tools.
SOAR can address resource constrained teams with limited advanced cybersecurity talent. SOAR compiles alert data triggering SOAR playbooks which use automation and orchestration to carryout response tasks. Many organizations adopt SOAR for its ability to alleviate alert fatigue and eliminate security team grunt work with automation. This frees up your security staff so they can focus on more critical projects and business objectives.
The building blocks of SOAR combines software programs and tools on a single platform with automation and orchestration serving as a backbone for driving security operations, threat intelligence, and incident response tasks.
So, what does security automation and orchestration mean? Let’s dive into these terms.
Simply put, SOAR not only helps aggregate security data from disparate tools but uses playbooks to automatically execute tasks in incident response events. These playbooks are detailed checklists that automate a particular sequence of actions that otherwise would have been completed by an analyst. These actions are often repetitious, such as logging an event, tending to false positives, or messaging relevant parties. The security automation in SOAR helps tackle the actions that don’t require human intervention. Each automated playbook is pre-configured to address a known threat scenario followed with a corresponding course of actions to resolve the event.
In situations where an incident cannot be resolved through automation, human-led analysis takes place where security experts step in to make threat intelligence-driven decisions.
It’s important to note, security automation is task-based and centers on eliminating routine, tedious, and time-intensive tasks off your team’s plate. Security automation is designed to simplify various individual security tasks.
Security orchestration is process-based which involves cohesively weaving your business’s different security tools ensuring collected security information is organized, easily shareable, and connected between tools. Orchestration allows security tools to work in tandem, improving workflow processes in efficiency and speed. Security orchestration coordinates a sequence of individual actions to complete a complex workflow.
SOAR and SIEM help organizations collect security data from disparate tools to deliver meaningful information to the security team, making incident detection, investigation, and remediation easier. Commonly known as complementary technologies, neither tool can substitute the other, but in certain scenarios a SIEM can be made to simulate a SOAR solution and vice versa, a SOAR tool can share similar SIEM-like functionalities because of its ability to receive "events of interest." The bottom line - each solution is built to address different needs.
Let’s disambiguate the capabilities and purposes of each tool, SIEM vs SOAR.
SIEM is designed to collect log data from various “events” from sources such as IAM (Identity Access Management), firewalls, endpoints, and servers. The SIEM correlates this event information to output alerts of incidents of interest. The key takeaway is that SIEM is a passive technology that helps aggregate event logs from multiple sources, provide robust log management capabilities, and generate alerts on events of interest. SIEM as a standalone tool cannot correlate the legitimacy of threats and struggles to conclude data from a string of cumbersome scenarios and events. Only a human analyst can determine the realness of a threat based off relevant logs, alerts, and the devices affected.
SOAR is an active technology which uses automated playbooks with predefined processes to act on triggered “events of interest” alerts. The SOAR is not intended to handle masses of alerts pulled from all your security teams tools but is created to receive alerts on specific events of interest (which can come from SIEM) to trigger an automated response or action. SOAR is fantastic at handling low-level alert analysis, validating security controls, remediating incidents, and taking action based on standardized step. The SOAR platform is a staple for the Security Operations Center (SOC) and can help Managed Detection and Response (MDR) analysts enhance analysis and incident response processes.
When paired together, both SIEM and SOAR technologies work symbiotically. The SIEM tool provides technical insight through log event aggregation and correlation to help SOC analysts prioritize which incidents of interest to follow up on. From there, the SOAR solution receives alerts on events of interest from the SIEM tool. SOAR will outline the procedural structure for triggered event alerts using SOAR playbooks to streamline the handling process of events of interest across the SOC. The SOAR platform is set up to make automated responses and actions such as auto-isolating a device, starting anti-malware scanning using the latest heuristics, and alerting security operations staff. This esures your security team always knows what steps to take when responding to specific events of interest.
In simple terms, SOAR and SIEM platforms do not need to be used together but this greatly depends on your company’s use of log event information and need for automation. Organizations most concerned with digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) and institutions heavily dependent on saving historical log event data (such as financial institutions), greatly benefit from SIEM technology which is suited to manage log data information.
SOAR, on the other hand, is a better fit for companies most interested in automating mundane and repetitive operations, but it can also receive specific events of interest.
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The answer is no. SOAR and SIEM do not need to be used alongside each other. This depends on several factors which include your company's need for historical log data, how this log event data will be used over time, and whether security automation could help your security workflows with mundane tasks.
SIEM tools help collect log event data pulled from multiple cybersecurity tools to produce alerts on "events of interest" which can be sent to the SOAR platform. SOAR can act on these "events of interests" through pre-configured automated playbooks (SOAR playbooks) which handle mundane, tedious security operations tasks while avoiding the need for human intervention.
SOAR stands for Security, Orchestration, Automation, and Response and is a cybersecurity platform used to connect disparate tools and aggregate information on events of interests to help security staff detect, investigate, and respond to incidents more efficiently.
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