The benefits and challenges automation brings to data security

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As more vulnerabilities and threats plague today’s security professionals, many organizations are turning to automation as a necessary component in their cybersecurity programs.

Automation works best when applied strategically, but this creates an additional challenge for security teams as they must evaluate resources and align skill sets to create, implement and maintain the automation needed for their business processes.

Often, when security teams think about applying automation to their workflows, coding capabilities are a top concern. Not every security team has embedded programming expertise.

To fill this void, teams might pool internal company resources, pulling from IT teams or engineering departments. However, their team’s automation needs may take a backseat to other revenue-generating projects.

Another option is seeking outside talent. Some teams will hire an IT consultant; a pricey alternative that may not be sustainable long-term.

Other teams will try to find the coveted “unicorn:” a security professional who is not only an expert on all things information security, incident response and threat intelligence, but someone who can also write code to integrate between systems and automate processes. Finding this rare type of person is a tall order, if not an impossibility.

In many cases, it can take up to a year to hire a security professional and it’s rare this person will check all the boxes when it comes to the needs of the business.

So, if internal resources are tight and there isn’t adequate budget to hire an outside consultant or “unicorn,” what can teams do?

Evaluate Security Automation Options

If a team is resourced-strapped and lacking budget to hire an outside consultant or automation expert, technology may be able to help. Consider implementing a security orchestration and automation solution that can help teams offload routine, time-consuming tasks involved in everything from detection to response.

A security orchestration and automation solution can accomplish three things:

  1. Ensure security tasks are taken care of in a timely and proactive way.
  2. Enable a team to build and maintain needed automations without the need for coding skills.
  3. Re-shift the security team’s focus to more strategic, ROI-driven tasks.

With automation in place, companies can stop chasing the ephemeral “unicorn” hire, as well as create more efficiency for their existing team. Instead of teams spending most of their time on mundane tasks like gathering data needed to assess an alert or phishing report, they can put their talent to better use analyzing and responding to threats and developing a more strategic security posture.

With less busy work on their plates, security talent can invest time in learning new skills, performing threat modeling, and building relationships with their peers in IT and operations to influence a stronger security posture. Additionally, with teams able to re-shift their focus to tasks that are most relevant to their skill set and interests, businesses may also reduce attrition (an added bonus considering today’s security talent crunch).

Find a Balance

At the end of the day, all companies must code strategically. This is not to say they should not bring programming resources onto their security teams. Instead, look to strike a balance between bringing in scarce resources when needed and rely on security automation frameworks whenever possible to alleviate the talent and time crunch and accelerate their efficiency.

Look to leverage a solution that can do much of the heavy lifting, while saving development resources for the truly custom work. Organizations today face many challenges when it comes to getting ahead of their security goals and finding an effective strategy that offers the best of both worlds will keep teams happy and productive and allow them to meet their goals.

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