SOAR Core Principles: Understanding Cybersecurity Operations

At Compuquip when we talk about SOAR, we don’t just mean like an eagle. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!). We refer to a complex set of cybersecurity best practices and principles to help our clients stay protected. SOAR stands for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response. It's a framework designed to help organizations streamline their security operations by integrating and automating various security tools and processes. It improves efficiency, reduces response times, enables better collaboration between different teams involved in cybersecurity operations, and frees up security analysts' time to focus on more complex threats. SOAR essentially incorporates the automation of more mundane tasks so that your cybersecurity teams can do what they do best, which is detect unknown threats. 


Security Orchestration

So, what is security orchestration exactly? It sounds like it involves a lot of moving parts, and it does. SOAR is not new to the development community. Developers have worked to streamline and automate since the beginning of the World Wide Web. Historically developers in IT operations used to work very heavily in silos, but by utilizing orchestration and automation they've been able to bridge the gap and collaborate together. 

However, the web has come a long way as we all know! I’m looking at you, Chat GPT. Systems complexities are growing exponentially while simultaneously being deployed on multiple disconnected devices. On top of the challenges to staying ahead of how things integrate and communicate across networks, there is also a global cybersecurity talent shortage, so getting rid of tasks that can be securely automated greatly frees the talent that is available to focus on bigger more challenging tasks. 

When compared with automation, orchestration is more process-based. It involves the workflows that trigger automations to interact with each other, how and when. Without SOAR, all of the orchestration management is done manually, and can be quite time-consuming. For example, to determine whether an e-mail is a phishing scam, it can take a single developer up to half an hour to make the ultimate call after checking all the signs. 

On the other hand, with orchestration automation you can automatically detect when a new email hits an inbox, you can automatically grab the attachments and detonate them, and you can automatically grab the URLs and the domains. Then you can pass them on to threat intelligence, and serve up a report to the security practitioner. 


Related Content: SOAR Orchestration: All You Need to Know




The other side of the coin is automation. Without automations in place, there would be nothing to orchestrate! Put simply, security automation is the process of executing security operations-related tasks without the need for human intervention. It spans everything from prevention and detection to response or remediation on the defensive side. When it comes to offense, red teams and attackers can use automation to engage in vulnerability assessments or get ahead of their targets. Basically, automation in security helps practitioners to be more efficient in their jobs.

There are three main questions that cybersecurity teams ask when deciding whether to automate a task:

Is it routine?
Is it tedious?
Is it time sensitive?

If all three of those answers are yes, then automation should be considered. While not everything should be automated blindly, having an analyst come in to check that emails or threats that are getting flagged by automation are legitimate should be enough of a check to help streamline your processes. Together with orchestration, security teams can be empowered to focus on analysis and decision making rather than manual, tedious and time intensive tasks.


New SOAR Trends to Look Out for in 2023

The latest trends in SOAR for cybersecurity include:

Cloud-based SOAR 

Cloud-based SOAR solutions are gaining popularity due to their scalability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of deployment. With the increase in cloud adoption, cloud-based SOAR is becoming a crucial component of modern cybersecurity architectures.

Integration with AI/ML

SOAR solutions are integrating with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enhance their incident response capabilities. AI/ML-powered SOAR can automatically detect and respond to threats, freeing up security teams to focus on more complex tasks.

Extended detection and response (XDR)
SOAR solutions are expanding their capabilities beyond traditional security incident and event management (SIEM) to provide extended detection and response (XDR). XDR enables organizations to detect and respond to threats across multiple endpoints and data sources, providing a holistic view of the organization's security posture.

Collaboration and information sharing

SOAR solutions are increasingly facilitating collaboration and information sharing between security teams and other departments within the organization. This helps to break down silos and ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to incident response.

Incident response playbook automation

SOAR solutions are automating incident response playbooks, enabling organizations to respond quickly and consistently to security incidents. Playbook automation reduces the time and effort required to respond to incidents and ensures that best practices are followed every time.

Overall, these trends demonstrate that SOAR is evolving rapidly to meet the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, and organizations that adopt these technologies will be better equipped to handle cybersecurity incidents in the future.


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