Five Critical Components of SOAR Technology

Posted byJohn Moran - 31st Jul 2018
soar technology components large image

In our previous two blogs, we looked at some of the most common problems a Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) Technology is designed to solve and the three pillars of a SOAR solution. We will round out this three-part series by taking a more detailed look at some of the most critical SOAR Technology components any SOAR solution should possess. While some of these components may be more critical than others to individual organizations, each plays an important role in the overall function of a SOAR solution and should be considered when evaluating different platforms.

1. Customizability and Flexibility

No two security programs will be alike; this is especially true when you cross vertical lines. For a SOAR solution to be effective, it should be capable of being the single tool on top of the security stack. A SOAR solution should be able to be implemented in a manner that is optimized for CSIRT teams, as well as SOCs, MSSPs and security teams. Data input from a multitude of sources, including machine to machine, email, user submissions and manual input should be supported. The importance of security metrics means that customers should be able to customize not only the values available in the solution but also what attributes are tracked as well.

The number of security solutions, commercial, open source, and developed in-house means that any viable SOAR solution must be flexible enough to support a multitude of security products. Any SOAR solution will support many security products out of the box, however, the likelihood that all the organization’s security products will be supported by default is low. For that reason, it is crucial that a SOAR solution has a flexible option in place that allows customers to easily create bi-directional integrations with security products which are not supported by default.  

2. Process Workflows

One of the key benefits of a SOAR solution is being able to automate and orchestrate process workflows to achieve force multiplication and reduce the burden of repetitive tasks on analysts. To achieve these benefits, a SOAR solution must be able to support flexible methods for implementing process workflows. The implementation of these workflows must be flexible enough to support almost any process which may need to be codified within the solution. Workflows should support the use of both built-in and custom integrations, as well as the creation of manual tasks to be completed by an analyst. Flow controlled workflows should support multiple types of flow control mechanisms, including those which allow for an analyst to make a manual decision before the workflow continues.  

3. Incident Management

Incident response is a complex process. Orchestration and automation of security products provide obvious value to any security program, but to maximize the time and monetary investment in a SOAR solution, a comprehensive SOAR solution should include additional features to manage the entire incident response lifecycle. This should include basic case management functionality, such as tracking cases, recording actions taken during the incident and providing reporting on critical metrics and KPIs. This should also include other ancillary functions such as detailed task tracking, evidence, and chain of custody management, asset management, and report management.  

4. Threat Intelligence

Actionable threat intelligence is a critical component in effective and efficient incident response. While simple threat intelligence feeds still provide some value and should be supported by a SOAR solution, to be truly effective in today’s threat landscape, threat intelligence must go above and beyond simple feeds. Because a SOAR solution has access to not only the indicators but also the rest of the incident information which can provide the additional context, it is in a unique position to gather actionable threat intelligence.

A proactive security program requires threat intelligence to be properly correlated to discover attack patterns, potential vulnerabilities and other ongoing risks to the organization. This correlation should be done automatically and it should be immediately clear if an ongoing incident may share common factors with any previous incidents. Because threat intelligence can consist of a vast amount of data, visual correlation is also an important factor when assessing threat intelligence capabilities.

5. Collaboration and Information Sharing

Incident response is not one player sport. Response to a security incident will likely include multiple individuals and potentially multiple teams and even organizations. To be effective in a team environment, a SOAR solution must support seamless collaboration and information sharing among team members in a controlled manner.  

Collaboration and information sharing must also be possible outside of the organization itself.  This is especially true in the context of threat intelligence. Open sharing of threat intelligence, when possible, it a critical tool in fighting cybercrime. There are numerous avenues available to share threat intelligence, open, closed and industry-specific. The majority of these threat intelligence sharing programs utilize one of the open standards for threat intelligence, such as STIX/TAXII, OpenIOC or MISP, and each of these standards should be supported by a SOAR solution.

For more information on any of these topics covered in this three-part series, please check out our whitepaper “Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) Technology” here.