SOAR Guide #2: Taking Security Operations to The Next Level

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Welcome to the second part of our SOAR guides trilogy. In the first SOAR guide blog post, we unveiled the fundamentals of SOAR (What is SOAR, SOAR definition, What is a SOAR platform, etc.), we answered some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the cyber security industry, and talked about the differences between SIEM and SOAR.

In this blog post, we will zero in on SOAR’s position in the cyber security environment, place particular attention on the ROI of SOAR in security operations, teach you how to recognize a top-quality SOAR platform, and reveal exactly how SOAR affects your cyber security posture. Let’s jump into it.

The role of SOAR in cyber security

When we talk about SOAR, we often use the word solution. We refer to SOAR as a solution, which is suitable but can be somewhat confusing to the uninitiated. As we explained in the previous SOAR guide, SOAR can be defined as the technology that allows companies to collect threat-related data from various sources and automate low-risk security processes.

Of course, this definition doesn’t do justice to the myriad of invaluable capabilities SOAR provides to SOC teams, so in order to understand the value of SOAR, let’s unravel the role of SOAR in a typical SOC environment:

  • Force multiplier: What most SOAR-newbies fail to realize is that the sole act of incorporating SOAR in a security environment won’t do much. SOAR feeds on the abilities of other technologies and is created with the sole purpose of increasing the efficacy of a SOC environment. This means that SOAR doesn’t replace other technologies, yet, it acts as a force multiplier and allows them to exceed their capabilities.
  • Connective tissue: SOAR interacts with other technologies, such as SIEM, and builds on the knowledge extracted from such technologies to allow security professionals to make better incident-related decisions. SOAR also allows everyone on the SOC team to have a better understanding of the security strategy by offering a customizable dashboard that can be used to improve the communication among SOC members and also follow a wide range of valuable KPIs.
  • False positive detector: Thanks to its machine learning engine, SOAR has the ability to successfully differentiate normal from suspicious activity and tell apart real threats from false positives. This is a capability that no other technology provides, and this feature is incredibly valued by analysts, in particular, as it frees their time from having to manually check every alert. Even the ones that are low-risk and probably don’t pose a threat to the organization.

Thanks to its automation capabilities, SOAR allows clients to create documented playbooks which will allow them to fully or semi-automate repetitive and menial tasks. And, given that companies receive thousands of alerts on a daily basis, most of which fall into the category of low-risk alerts, this makes the presence of SOAR’s automation an invaluable asset to every SOC team.

However, even though SOAR can replace human presence in low-risk assignments, it is still recommended to utilize SOAR’s powers in a manner that will reinforce your SOC’s incident response capabilities. SOAR will boost your incident response time by up to 80%, and in the meantime, it will boost the productivity of your analyst by ten times just by freeing their time with the act of automating thousands of menial and mundane tasks. In other words, it will allow them to have more time to focus on the threats that really matter.

How does SOAR fit into a security network?

SOAR is extremely customizable, and instead of disrupting the natural workflow of security operations, SOAR blends into the environment it is deployed and allows security professionals to maintain their natural workflow of security operations. Regardless of the size of the organization, SOAR fits into every environment seamlessly and integrates well with both internal and external applications and technologies. SOAR is very easy to integrate with, as the technology allows clients to create bidirectional integrations with hundreds of security technologies.

Our own SOAR solution, IncMan SOAR, is particularly easy to integrate with, as the technology allows clients to create bidirectional integrations with hundreds of security technologies. IncMan SOAR adopts an Open Integration Framework philosophy, which allows clients to create their own integrations without our supervision and with little coding experience required. This all means that SOAR is meant to instantly accommodate to the environment it is deployed and make an immediate impact without causing any disruptions to the organization.

Why is improved incident response time such a valuable aspect of what SOAR offers?

One of SOAR’s most respected capabilities is the ability to drastically improve a SOC’s response time to incidents. That is simply because the more time it takes for you to assess a certain incident, the more time you allow hackers and other malicious actors to cause damage to your organization. And the bigger the breach time, the more serious the damage is.

This means that with every additional second of breach time, more damage is potentially inflicted on your organization. Sadly, many SOC teams are overwhelmed with large volumes of alerts, which they can’t plausibly assess in record time. Sometimes, it can even take them hours, days, or even weeks to properly analyze an alert. And by that time, if the alert has proven to be an actual threat, the malicious actor will have already inflicted the intended damage. Whether it is to extract data, affect the organization financially, or impose damage in other ways, if the response time to such incidents is abysmal, the damage caused will be horrendous.

This is why, for those who have already witnessed the incredible power of SOAR, its ability to enhance incident response time is unexpendable. But how can SOAR improve response time to cyber threats by as much as 80%, you may ask? Well, some SOAR solutions, like our IncMan SOAR, run on a machine learning engine, which allows SOAR to read the characteristics of a certain threat, and depending on whether the analysts labeled that alert as a false positive or an actual threat, SOAR will remember the course of action taken and thus become capable of making accurate decisions when it encounters a similar threat in the future. In other words, SOAR detects the patterns of security alerts and predicts a successful response thanks to its AI-backed machine learning engine.

Also, SOAR automates over 60% of all security operations related to low-risk and repetitive assignments, which frees up plenty of time for analysts to be able to accurately intercept real threats and assess time in a timely manner. It’s much easier to recognize the real threats when SOAR takes care of the thousands of alerts that are only meant to confuse analysts and waste their time while the real threats go by undetected.

Is SOAR a replacement for other security technologies?

What many security professionals fail to realize is that SOAR does not replace the necessity of having other security tools incorporated into your SOC. As we explained earlier, SOAR is a force multiplier, which means that the technology itself is not able to act as an incident responder and replace every other tool within the SOC. What it can do is that it can boost the productivity of virtually anyone on the SOC team, allow security professionals to make well-informed decisions thanks to its automation capabilities, and vastly improve the incident response time.

People shouldn’t mistake SOAR for some magical tool that replaces every other technology in the cyber security industry. Yet, SOAR should be understood as the binding force that connects the dots in a SOC environment and improves the potential of every tool it interacts with.

In order to get the best out of SOAR, you should consider merging SOAR with other security tools. Combining the strengths of technologies like SOAR and SIEM will allow your SOC to flourish and drastically improve the quality of the SecOps. In other words, SOAR connects people, technologies, and processes with the goal of optimizing the efficacy of the entire SOC. But as advanced as SOAR may be, it is still a piece of software that must be led by the expertise of top security professionals and must be backed with the right tools and technologies necessary to combat evolved cyber threats.

What kind of ROI should I expect by investing in a SOAR solution?

The ROI of SOAR differs from each respective organization and the way SOAR is being utilized. But, assuming that SOAR’s capabilities are optimally utilized, the ROI from incorporating SOAR boils down to the following most important elements:

  • Improved time management and productivity: By automating a myriad of repetitive tasks, analysts will have more free time on their hands to prioritize tasks and improve their efficiency.
  • Enhanced threat hunting capabilities: SOAR’s machine learning engine improves the SOC’s threat-detecting abilities and provides analysts with thorough analysis regarding a threat which allows them to make a well-informed decision.
  • Increased efficiency: Thanks to automation, you’ll get more things done with fewer resources. SOCs will better allocate their resources, and analysts will be able to focus on tasks that really matter.
  • Improved employee retention: Security professionals will have more pleasure in performing their activities, given that they don’t have to manually handle menial tasks.

Bottom line is, the ROI of SOAR is going to be reflected by the way you utilize SOAR. And granted that you do make the most out of SOAR, you’ll get more done in a shorter amount of time and with fewer resources. Companies that receive thousands of alerts every day will definitely make their money’s worth by utilizing SOAR’s progressive automation capabilities.

With that being said, in order to make the best ROI out of your SOAR solution, you must strategically assess the nature of your security operations. Either way, it’s beyond any doubt that there is a significant ROI of SOAR for every organization that knows how to utilize its amazing powers.

Do all SOAR vendors offer a SOAR solution with the same quality?

One thing that everyone who is interested in SOAR should understand is that not every SOAR solution is the same. Different SOAR vendors build their SOAR solutions with different philosophies in mind. While most SOAR solutions contain the basics that every SOAR should provide (automation, orchestration, etc.), there are many differences among SOAR vendors, just as there in any industry where a product has grown in popularity and demand.

Some SOAR vendors may provide the bare minimum, while others go the distance and pave the way for the next-gen SOAR industry. DFLabs falls into the second category, and with three patents in the SOAR industry (the most out of any SOAR vendor) and many proprietary capabilities that are unique only to IncMan, DFLabs is dedicated to shaping IncMan SOAR into the best SOAR solution on the market.

How to distinguish the best SOAR solution for your needs?

Choosing the right SOAR solution that perfectly aligns with your needs is not an easy task. You need to do your fair share of research, because what worked for one client doesn’t necessarily mean the same SOAR solution will work for you.

What you need to do to find the ideal SOAR solution is this:

  • Assess your needs: The strengths of one SOAR vendor may not be applicable to your current use case, which is why you must investigate the need of your organization and find a SOAR solution that responds to those needs.
  • Make sure they have good customer support: A quality SOAR vendor always puts client satisfaction as a priority. Which is why having a good customer support system is a trait of a quality SOAR vendor.
  • Customizability and flexibility: It is always a good idea to choose a SOAR solution that prides itself on customizability and flexibility (such as our IncMan SOAR). A quality SOAR solution will allow you to integrate seamlessly with other security tools and offer an intuitive user interface.

Granted there are not one-size-fits-all SOAR solutions, but a flexible SOAR solution has a better chance of blending in almost every type of SOC environment.

Summary

In this SOAR guide we delved deeper into the core of SOAR and discussed some of the most relevant components of the SOAR technology. The last piece of advice we’ll leave you with is to always pair your SOAR solution with an equally advanced SOC team.

As we mentioned on several occasions, to bear the fruit of SOAR you must also have a strong SOC environment backed with expert security professionals and top-quality security technologies. You may choose the best SOAR solution for you, but if your SOC team is not equipped with the right level of expertise, the presence of SOAR won’t make much of an impact.

Stay tuned for our third consecutive SOAR guide, where we’ll finish off the trilogy by discussing equally relevant SOAR components. In the meantime, check out our extensive knowledge base and learn more about the idiosyncrasies of SOAR.

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