A security operations center (SOC) is responsible for preventing any cybersecurity breaches in an organization’s network. This huge undertaking involves a team of analysts, engineers and managers tracking all activity on a company’s or enterprise’s networks, databases, servers, sites and other connected systems. With so many moving parts, keeping track of security operations and ensuring that everything works together cohesively is a considerable challenge to many businesses.
Enter security orchestration. By embracing security orchestration, security teams can tame the chaos and supercharge their SOC.
What is security orchestration?
Security orchestration is the process of joining and managing disparate tools and technologies in a business’ cybersecurity ecosystem. The goal behind security orchestration is to enable simpler security management by allowing the security team to complete most tasks from a single console.
What’s the difference between security orchestration and automation?
Automation differs from orchestration in that it does not stand alone in an SOC, but rather is an essential component of orchestration. Security automation helps teams simplify complex tasks, build workflows that don’t require human intervention and unify disparate toolsets. Automation can also help reduce false positives – alerts that appear to be genuine security issues, but are actually benign.
While security automation alone enables a SOC team to create a task workflow, security orchestration with automated capabilities efficiently centralizes security operations, aggregates diverse sets of security-related data and standardizes security processes to ensure consistency and predictability.
Who needs security orchestration?
If your security team consists of only a handful of engineers, and the footprint of the infrastructure that they are responsible for protecting is small, you may be able to get by without security orchestration. Small-scale security operations can be managed manually because they involve fewer moving parts, and are not as diverse when it comes to the types of security tools being deployed and the types of applications or environments being managed.
However, for larger teams and environments, security orchestration is a must-have for enabling efficiency and reliability. It helps address several pain points that commonly arise in complex security operations:
- Alert overload: The larger your infrastructure or application environments, the more alerts your SIEM and other monitoring tools generate. In fact, the average business receives as many as 10,000 alerts per day. Without a security orchestration solution, keeping track of these alerts, determining which ones to prioritize and delegating alert responsibility to different team members can be very cumbersome.
- Disparate tools: Larger-scale security operations typically rely on a diverse set of tools (perhaps even too many). They might use a SIEM, a vulnerability scanner, an anti-virus tool, OS- and network-level firewalls and more. Security orchestration helps teams leverage all of these tools in one central location.
- Manual processes: Security orchestration minimizes the manual effort required to identify and respond to security events. By automating tasks that would otherwise be performed manually, orchestration not only saves your team time, but also enables faster response and more consistency in security operations.
- Stakeholder buy-in: Security tools and personnel are expensive, and justifying the cost to business stakeholders can be challenging. By collecting information on security operations and generating reports, however, security orchestration makes it easier to quantify and demonstrate the value of security investments to the business.
The pillars of security orchestration
Effective security orchestration is built upon six pillars that help teams make more informed decisions, standardize workflows and automate incident response actions to add efficiency to security operations, while also helping teams to get the most out of their existing security tools.
Security tools such as SIEMs and vulnerability scanners generate a lot of data. Without context, it’s hard to put that data to use. You may not know, for example, whether a vulnerability detected in one of your applications is a risk under your current configuration; by extension, it’s difficult to know how much priority to give that alert.
Security orchestration helps contextualize the data your security tools collect, as well as any generated alerts, allowing you to quickly take action in the most effective way possible.
With security orchestration, many responses to security incidents, such as closing a vulnerable port detected by a network scanner or requiring a user to change his or her password following a breach, can be automated using playbooks. Playbooks save staff time while enabling a more reliable response to security events.
Security orchestration provides teams with the means to visualize and interactively investigate a cyberthreat’s full storyline. Instead of simply receiving an alert and responding based only on the information it contains, orchestration provides analysts with an interactive map of data analysis. This storyline allows analysts the ability to access additional information as the response evolves and get to the root of the issue quickly.
KPI business intelligence
Security orchestration helps you track key performance indicators (KPIs) on security response trends to assess your team’s effectiveness and demonstrate ROI in security tools, processes and personnel. By centralizing all SOC metrics in one place, analysts get a better view of how to improve productivity and effectiveness of SOC workflows.
Many security incidents are not isolated affairs as they are part of broader issues or trends. With security orchestration, you can manage a set of related incidents as a single case. This helps ensure that analysts get to the root of the problem, instead of repeatedly addressing surface-level issues. Case management also makes it easier to distribute the appropriate number of cases to each team member in order to manage workloads more effectively.
Security orchestration enables your team to collaborate in the most efficient way. It helps avoid redundant efforts on the same issue, streamlines communication when analyzing or responding to incidents and ensures that the right people are responding to the right issues.
Security orchestration benefits
When implemented effectively, security orchestration provides a range of value to SOC teams and businesses.
Boosts analyst productivity
By automating tasks that would otherwise demand manual effort on the part of analysts, security orchestration eliminates “grunt work” and allows analysts to focus on areas where their expertise can be of greatest value. It also streamlines collaboration, allowing analysts to be as productive as possible.
Provides a holistic view of each threat
As noted above, context is everything when analyzing and responding to security incidents. Security orchestration gives your team the context to act as intelligently as possible. It provides contextualized details on security events and creates a visual threat storyline that maps the actions, entities and relationships involved in a security incident.
Accelerates incident response
Security orchestration minimizes response time by automating incident response. More broadly, it empowers your team to codify processes so that they are executed consistently and predictably.
Provides a cohesive and efficient SOC
Security orchestration optimizes your SOC by breaking down the silos that separate different teams, analysts, processes and tools. It centralizes most dimensions of the security operations process and maximizes ROI by reducing the costs associated with incident handling costs, analyst training and reporting.
Security orchestration supercharges your SOC
For security teams working with an infrastructure and toolset of any significant size, security orchestration is critical for transforming your SOC from a slow, manual, inconsistent set of processes to a more fluid and efficient operation. Security orchestration platforms like Siemplify can supercharge your SOC with built-in playbooks, case management, interactive investigation tools and easy-to-use KPI tracking.
Find out how Siemplify’s security orchestration capabilities can maximize your business’s ROI in security operations and keep your critical data, applications and workloads as safe as possible. Test drive a free trial today.
Dan Kaplan is director of content at Siemplify.