Security Operations

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Automate Security Analysis and Incident Remediation

Tim Wenzlau
by Tim Wenzlau
category Security Operations

One thing that’s true of many of the tasks in today’s security incident workflows is that many of the mundane and time-consuming data sifting tasks within them are ill-suited for humans to perform.

It’s nearly impossible for human analysts to cover the majority of cybersecurity monitoring and analysis tasks: given the vast amounts of data generated across most environments, analysts are simply not able to consider more than a small percentage of the alert events that our networks generate.

This means that when we assign humans the duty of keeping their eyes on a console, we’re misallocating some of our most valuable and scarce resources. These are the time, attention, and cognitive capabilities of the analysts who staff our Security Operations Centers (SOCs).

One of the primary benefits of adding security analysis software to analyze security events and incidents is that it extends the SecOps team’s capacity and enables human analysts to focus more of their energies on incident response and remediation. This is the portion of the incident response workflow where their uniquely “human” abilities—creativity, collaboration, communication, and teamwork—are most needed. It’s also where teams stand to make the interventions that can have the biggest impact on the overall efficacy of end-to-end security operations.

Incident Response Process Improvements Enable Teams to Make Major Security Gains

Once an event has been escalated for human investigation, the speed with which the security team is able to contain the threat determines the size of the risk that the incident will result in a breach or other significant security event. The quicker remediation can occur, the greater the likelihood that the attack will be stopped before it has time to grow in scope and impact or progress down the kill chain. And the faster the incident is fully resolved and all affected systems brought back online, the less likely the business’s operations are to be interrupted or otherwise impacted.

A full-scale incident remediation workflow should include a thorough investigation of every incident’s scope and impact in order to improve future response capabilities. By looking at how and why it happened, security teams can mitigate the risk of the same thing happening again.

This kind of analysis requires collaboration and communication, however. Security team members may need to delve deep into the operating system or software application event logs and then share their findings with colleagues. It also takes time—something that’s in short supply for today’s security operations teams, who often struggle to monitor the voluminous alert data that confronts them. When conducting SOC analysis, security team members are well aware that spending too much time on incident response might cause them to miss the earliest stages of the next attack.

Security Operations Software Frees Teams to Make Better Use of Time

Mental fatigue and eye strain are real problems for today’s security operations teams. To monitor security event data effectively, security analysts must give every alert the same amount of attention, with an entirely consistent approach. Each event can require as many as 40 to 60 different checks, and it’s impossible to perform these quickly or without full concentration. Even though the vast majority of alerts a SOC analyst encounters are false positives, they cannot skip one, because that one might turn out to be critically important. It’s near impossible to maintain focus in these conditions.

Integrating security analysis software like the Respond Analyst into your network and endpoint intrusion monitoring workflow allows your team to make better use of the tools you already have in place. It removes the bottleneck that too much data has introduced into your security operations, and supports your team in making better decisions at speed.

End-to-End Solutions Facilitate Enormous Process Improvements

Adding the Respond Analyst’s monitoring capabilities to your security incident workflow indirectly but significantly improves your security team’s incident response capabilities by taking over the tasks that aren’t practical for humans to perform, saving your team’s limited time and attention for forensics, analysis and investigation. This helps teams work smarter not harder by allowing them to apply their greatest efforts where they’ll make the biggest difference.

Integrating the Respond Analyst with the Palo Alto Networks Demisto Security Orchestration and Automation platform, can also directly improve the speed and efficacy of your incident response procedures. The Demisto platform can ingest results from the Respond Analyst, enabling it to initiate incident response playbooks in real time as soon as events are escalated.

This combination of analytic and content creation and maintenance capabilities with downstream remediation and response capabilities gives security teams the power to monitor and investigate events from a broad array of data sources for full, end-to-end incident oversight. It has the potential to liberate security teams from the need to perform incident response processes that can be standardized, allowing them to instead spend their time on the ones that cannot.

The Respond Analyst works well together with several Palo Alto Networks solutions. With the addition of the Demisto platform to this security operations software’s portfolio of integrations, security teams can augment their automated monitoring capabilities with streamlined incident management and response. This saves them even more time for investigation, collaboration, and conversation—the high-value activities that are truly the best uses of their time.

The Respond Analyst app for Cortex by Palo Alto Networks now available. Learn more.

To learn more about how the Respond Analyst can be integrated with the existing security solutions in your technology environment to help them—and your SOC team—better, contact us today.