9 Security Functions Your Organization Should Automate

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Automating security functions is critical to protect against the growing number of cyberattacks. Companies can use automation to encrypt data, scan for vulnerabilities, triage alerts, detect and respond to threats, use deception technology, manage data, ensure privacy, perform simulated attacks, and secure applications. Automation reduces the burden on security teams, improves efficiency, and reduces human error, ultimately saving organizations time and money.

The statistic is staggering: A cyberattack happens every 39 seconds on average. Although every company wants to ensure its systems and data are secure, the massive number of attacks means that security team members can’t do it on their own.

To protect systems from cyber threats and cyberattacks, organizations need to automate as many security functions as possible. Since security automation eliminates manual security processes, it takes the pressure off security teams and reduces the human errors that can increase attacks.

Automating security functions enables organizations to better detect threats, reducing the probability that they will be hit with cyberattacks and accelerating incident responses to lessen the harmful effects if attacks do occur.

Companies that use automation (along with artificial intelligence) shorten the security breach lifecycle by 74 days and decrease the cost of a breach by as much as $3 million, according to IBM,

Here are nine security functions that companies should automate:

Data encryption

Data breaches are skyrocketing, and new threats are appearing weekly. The average cost of a data breach in the United States in 2022 was $9.44 million, higher than the global average of $4.3 million, according to IBM.

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Companies that use strong encryption can reduce the cost of a data breach because the real harm of a breach comes when malicious actors are able to read and use the data that they’ve accessed. But if organizations encrypt their data, there’s little chance that cybercriminals will be able to read it. However, many companies don’t encrypt their data. Rather, they implement other security technologies that keep cybercriminals from accessing the data instead of actually encrypting it.

Automated encryption tools encrypt data in transit and data at rest and they can also handle automated and continuous backups. Then if a company experiences a ransomware attack, all it has to do is quickly roll back to the last encrypted backup, with little disruption to operations or downtime. This also allows the organization to ignore the attacker’s ransom demands.

Vulnerability scanning

As of April 25, 2023, there are more than 213,000 entries in the National Vulnerability Database. Cybercriminals exploit these software and systems vulnerabilities to attack companies before vendors are able to release security patches. Since it’s just not possible for security analysts to find and repair all these security vulnerabilities before cyberattackers take advantage of them, it’s critical for companies to automate vulnerability scanning to identify and evaluate weaknesses based on their severity and potential impact, then prioritize the identified vulnerabilities based on their risk scores.

Alert triaging

Alert triage tools automatically assess and prioritize threat alerts, removing the need for human intervention. These tools also cut down on false positives, enabling security teams to operate more efficiently and improving the cyber defenses of their organizations.

Threat detection/incident response

Organizations can stop cybercriminals from gaining access to their networks and stealing their data by identifying and responding to potential threats as early as possible. Companies can use automated threat detection and response tools to investigate, validate, and fix threats. And they can use advanced technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to predict, stop, and maybe even prevent cyberattacks.

These automated tools can detect threats more accurately than members of organizations’ security teams. By automating time-consuming, monotonous, and repetitive security tasks, organizations can respond to threats much more quickly, while reducing human error.

Automated deception technology

AI-powered deception technology deploys realistic decoys, e.g., databases, servers, files, apps, and domains, to lure cyberattackers. As soon as attackers interact with these decoys, the technology begins gathering intelligence that it uses to alert organizations’ security teams who can then take action to address/remove these threats, stop potential breaches, and ensure data remains secure.

Data management

Members of organizations’ security teams spend much of their workdays manually administering tools to ensure sensitive corporate data is secure. But spending so many hours manually collecting data is not very productive. Automating such tasks as log and asset management and collecting data can free up skilled security team members’ time so they can work on high-value tasks that need human intervention, making security operations more efficient.

Data privacy

Automating data privacy functions can ensure organizations are in regulatory compliance. AI-powered tools can navigate organizations’ environments and identify processes that aren’t compliant with regulations and requirements without having to complete full audits. Ensuring companies meet regulatory compliance requirements is critical to keeping systems secure.

Simulated attacks

Testing is another piece of cybersecurity that is very time-consuming. Still, organizations need to perform vulnerability testing and simulated attacks to ensure their systems and data are secure. But many companies put testing off or test infrequently because the process is so time-consuming.

Today, organizations can use automated simulated attacks to boost security as these simulations recreate behaviors of cybercriminals and identify processes and controls that are performing well and those that need to be patched.

Application security

When it comes to ensuring the security of applications, a manual approach is no longer viable. That’s because DevOps deployments continue to increase as more organizations use low-code and no-code tools and application programming interfaces. In addition, a manual approach can introduce human error that can create risks that cause security breaches.

Companies can use automated tools to secure their applications, including checking for encryption protocols, authorization, and authentication. Organizations can also use automation to scan apps for known security flaws.

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.