With threats to network security increasing in sophistication and expanding the roster of entry points to include the ever-growing list of cloud-based services and applications that they can use to launch an attack, security analysts need to constantly adapt through new tools to collect data and monitor events.
Literally thousands of alarms through different monitoring solutions might need to be manually monitored, and that’s simply too much for a team to manage.
That’s why automated technologies such as SOAR are rising to the forefront of effective Infosec platforms to help manage this burden.
What Is SOAR?
First coined by Gartner, SOAR – Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response – refers to technologies enabling organizations to collect inputs monitored by the security operations team and help to define, prioritize, and drive standardized incident response activities.
It combines Security Orchestration and Automation (SOA), Threat Intelligence Platforms (TIP), and Incident Response Platforms (IRP) together to manage security threats, and it can eliminate much of the manual data collection process.
SOAR vs SIEM: What’s the Difference?
Is SOAR similar to a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) system? Not exactly.
How SIEM Works
A SIEM system combines security event management (SEM) tools, which analyze log data in real-time, with security information management (SIM) that collects and reports on security events.
It collects, aggregates, identifies, categorizes and analyzes incidents and events, searching for odd behavior on devices or patterns that could be related to an attack and issues alerts.
But while SIEM can detect threats, SOAR puts everything in one place for analysis and features automated responses that can act on threats.
How SOAR Works
SOAR platforms combine data gathering, case management, standardization, workflow, and analytics. After gathering alarm data (possibly from a SIEM solution, as the two are effective working in tandem), analysts have everything complied in a single case to research, assess, and perform additional follow-up as needed.
The system can accommodate highly automated, complex incident response workflows for a faster and more dynamic defense. SOAR includes playbooks that can be fully automated in terms of response or launch with a single click from within the platform.
It removes manual tasks such as opening a ticket in a tracking system and frees analysts to focus on larger issues with the threat.
Breaking Down SOAR
Let’s take a quick look at what orchestration, automation, and response really mean.
The orchestration component of SOAR refers to the process of data collection.
The platform compiles data from multiple sources and places it in one list to streamline threat and vulnerability management and eliminate the need for an analyst to hop between systems.
Orchestration improves the efficiency of threat remediation efforts.
The security operations automation aspect provides configurable automated workflows, alerts, and responses that can execute tasks such as closing down a device or user account in the event of suspicious activity.
Automation uses machine learning algorithms to reduce the time it takes to execute remediation actions.
The response component provides a user dashboard to access real-time incident management and response activity. Root cause diagnostics and intelligence to deliver a diagnostic function to guide remediation actions and aid in strategy development.
Common SOAR Systems Compared
While SOAR technologies all have certain similar performance attributes and features, some have different strengths in end-user visibility and automated response capabilities. Let’s look at a few of the more common platforms to see how they differ.
Siemplify centralizes performance data from SIEM and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools. It can create a prioritized list of machine-learning-driven alerts that identify which alerts are the biggest threats.
Users can configure information to enhance their situational awareness through different displays, including:
- An alert distribution pie chart to identify vulnerabilities; and
- A threat storyline visualization to understand what triggered a security event.
This enhanced visibility is made actionable through team collaboration tools to increase response time.
LogRhythm automates responses to security events such as an automated endpoint quarantine that identifies network ports with suspicious devices and then remotely disables them.
This system can also automate responses such as suspending user accounts that act suspiciously or terminating abnormal processes on critical devices.
Similar to Siemplify, users can customize dashboards to view real-time investigation and response activity in a way that will make them the most effective at their job.
How to Implement SOAR
The challenge of deploying a SOAR system is finding a platform that is complex enough to meet a sophisticated, evolving security landscape, yet can be effectively matched to the skillset of your team.
Some systems provide a graphical user interface (GUI) to aid non-technical users and an integrated development environment (IDE) that enables analysts to write their own scripts within the system.
Developing a New Incident Response Process
Beyond the technology itself, SOAR will require the creation of a new incident response process. It will need to be redesigned from scratch to enable engineers and analysts to make full use of SOAR’s capabilities to respond and mitigate threats quickly.
This process will need to be revised regularly to keep pace with the threats around it, which is why a managed detection and response team (MDR) is one of the best options to maximize the performance of SOAR and SIEM platforms.
Identifying Trusted Behavior with Managed Detection and Response Services
MDR teams can work to help these systems “learn” which activities occurring on a device or network are normal vs abnormal. They can do this by building out a trusted behavioral registry so alerts for routine behavior will not trigger an extensive review.
But activities outside of the safe behavior identified in the registry will receive the scrutiny they deserve. And when an alert is identified as a possible threat, the new incident response process will enable an MDR team to take proactive actions to shut down passwords, devices, and any other pathways someone might be using to launch an attack.
For more information, read our previous post about how SOAR and MDR can help augment your security.
Questions About SOAR or MDR? Contact CRITICALSTART Today
SOAR is one of the latest in a string of new tools that security teams can leverage to stay ahead of malicious actors that want to put them out of business. It just needs the right expertise to put its robust performance attributes to the best possible use.
The cybersecurity experts at CRITICALSTART are here to answer any questions about managed detection and response, SOAR, SIEM, incident response, or any other tools and techniques you can use to strengthen your organization’s security posture.
Contact us today for more information!