A Comprehensive Approach to Security Automation

Security Automation

A well-coordinated security automation deployment can remove human error from the equation and eliminate the need to scale the workforce to keep pace with security tasks. But the benefits of security automation don’t come, well, automatically. That’s because security automation is not just one tool or capability; it’s more like an ecosystem. In reality, security automation is a suite of functions that must all work together to secure data, systems and processes in an enterprise that is operating at scale. Because of this, organizations and their MSP partners need to make sure their approach to cybersecurity automation is coordinated and comprehensive in order to be effective.

Security Automation is Complex
There are many complementary forms of automation tooling that collectively protect the organization from cybersecurity risk. It’s important for organizations to understand the differences between these forms of automation, and how they work together to safeguard enterprise systems and data. One of the most common forms is automated vulnerability scanning – which looks for application security gaps, software deficiencies, end of date licensing and other risks. Scanning is typically comprehensive of both internal architectures and firewalls, as well as public facing applications and services.  

Automated vulnerability scanning uses algorithms to do the bulk of discovery and analysis, with only occasional human intervention. The same is true of automated information security scanning, which is focused more on access control, access management and questions around who has access to what data, and where PII and other sensitive datasets are stored. There are also automated forms of penetration testing, where AI-powered systems simulate black hat and red team exercises designed to probe for security gaps from the perspective of likely attackers.

Several key forms of automation are particularly useful at scale. One of these is automated alert management – which eliminates the time spent weeding through duplicative alerts, false positives and other noise that becomes especially problematic at scale. And there are also self-resolution tools that can automate patch management and other labor-intensive response measures – cutting down on the human toil of fixing a security vulnerability once it’s been identified. 

Coordinating the Security Automation Ecosystem
Given there are so many forms of security automation that must be aligned across the enterprise, organizations typically need the help of an MSP partner that can coordinate all these activities to work together seamlessly to protect the IT operation. 

A strong MSP partner can apply an orchestration framework that may include escalation paths and interfaces for easy collaboration and decision support. The MSP can also use automation to assess criticality of third party vendor risk – including automated frameworks for Vendor Due Diligence that categorize vendors, assess risks and develop remediation recommendations. The right MSP can also use automation to streamline the mission-critical and complex task of documenting and reporting compliance.

When it comes to compliance, organizations need to do more than just achieve compliance; they must also demonstrate it through metrics and documentation shared with regulators. This can be extremely challenging because, as systems scale, so does the volume of compliance reporting and documentation that must be generated. The best automated systems for compliance reporting can effortlessly gather and analyze data from across the enterprise; map this data to system performance and applicable regulatory rules; and then automatically populate policy and reporting templates with live data at scale.

The kind of coordinated control of automation we’re describing here typically requires an MSP partner that leverages automation within a larger Governance & Risk and Compliance (GRC) platform that covers multiple systems. In fact, our next blog post will take a closer look at how to build the ideal GRC platform to help the organization analyze and prioritize all kinds of risks to the enterprise.


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