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8/16/2018
10:30 AM
Jen Andre
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Overcoming 'Security as a Silo' with Orchestration and Automation

When teams work in silos, the result is friction and miscommunication. Automation changes that.

While security continues to evolve, adapt, and innovate, there has been a consistent, underlying theme across the industry: Teams are struggling to balance their increasing workloads with the limited resources at their disposal. As a result, it is becoming progressively more difficult for them to accomplish their goals. However, a lesser-known problem has risen, which I like to refer to as a different kind of SaaS: "security as a silo."

It should come as no surprise that large organizations often struggle with teams working in silos. This creates friction and miscommunication, essentially serving as barriers that hinder the accomplishment of important goals. In many respects, security is no different from other business functions this way. But a few organizations have figured out how to utilize specific technologies to increase productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness among employees and processes

The DevOps Revolution
It wasn't long ago when software development and IT operations were siloed themselves. Each function was responsible for specific tasks: developers coded and built software, while IT operations deployed and delivered it. However, this method of software development and delivery wasn't time- or cost-effective, especially as the tech landscape continued to change. Teams were expected to build fast, and deliver even faster, leading to a dev and ops breakdown.

Some good did come out of this, as the heavy stream of security fire drills paved the way for a revolution known as orchestration and automation, which in turn led to the birth of DevOps. With a simple purpose of a single team building, deploying, and delivering software, DevOps changed the game.

The Precipice of Change for Infosec
It's no secret that security teams are distressed, and many suffer the same challenges that developers and operations teams did before the birth of DevOps. To make matters worse, they are inundated with false positives that need to be investigated, causing teams to chase down logs and other intel, only to find that there's not an actual threat. Meanwhile, alerts that do pose a real danger may not be investigated fast enough or at all.

The threat landscape is growing exponentially, and bad actors are more creative than ever — think Mirai, botnets, and unique malware. It's increasingly difficult for defenders to keep up, let alone get ahead of these threats.

Sound familiar?

Security is reaching an inflection point again, and just as security orchestration and automation solutions brought change to software development and IT operations, it will bring change to security operations (SecOps).

The Great Uniters — Orchestration and Automation
As an industry, it's time that we invested in technologies and methodologies that will enhance our tools, processes, and people. We know that orchestration and automation were critical technologies for DevOps to succeed. Why not bring these same concepts to SecOps?

Orchestration unites disparate systems and tools, while also paving the way for machine-to-machine automation. Machines are fantastic at handling a series of repetitive tasks, while humans are great at deriving context from data. Why not offload these repetitive tasks to machines and allow humans to focus on data correlation?

Therein lies the beauty of automation — and coupled with orchestration, it can be extremely flexible. So, what does this mean for security as a whole? Some initial benefits include:

  • The security function is streamlined and more productive.
  • Defenders can get ahead and aren't constantly working from behind.
  • The industry is stronger, more connected and more effective.
  • The way is paved for unity amongst IT teams.

Given the well-known cybersecurity shortage and budget constraints, adding automation to security operations seems unachievable for many organizations, but that doesn't have to be the case. These types of technologies are becoming increasingly accessible for businesses of all sizes, and there is more clarity around which operations should be automated and which require human interaction at some level. Ultimately, the goal is simple — provide security teams with the fastest way to add automation to security processes.

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Before joining Rapid7, Jen Andre was the Founder & CEO of Komand (acquired by Rapid7), the fastest way to automate your time-intensive security processes. Previously, she co-founded Threat Stack, a pioneering cloud security monitoring company. Jen has spent her career in ... View Full Bio
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