"It's not if, but when…" The often-quoted statement has been repeated so frequently in the cybersecurity industry that it's practically a cliche. Yet, it's never been more true. Technology is embedded into every business activity in the modern world, and hackers continually find ways to exploit new technology for malicious purposes. To keep up with the massive amounts of data created by a single business, you'd need large teams of specialists analyzing logs for threats around the clock. Even with this level of oversight, attacks would slip under the radar and cost you millions.
The dark web, ransomware as a service, exploited AI technology, and malicious tools make it easier than ever for cybercriminals to launch successful attacks with limited knowledge. For businesses to keep up with the constant flow of data derived from both legitimate business activity within a network and data generated by the constantly evolving threat landscape, automated security is a necessity.
Security automation uses artificial intelligence (AI) to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks and connect security tools for lightning-fast responses that keep your network safe. With security automation, your organization can develop advanced security models that promote zero-trust security and continually investigate every corner of your network. Without it, your organization could be left vulnerable to attacks that could cost you millions. Recent data shows that organizations using AI and automation saved an average of $3 million more than those without.
Still skeptical? We understand. $3 million is a lot of money. To provide a better understanding of how security automation helps businesses save money, we'll explore the most common use cases and some real examples.
Use Cases for Security Automation
Security automation allows companies to use tools to assist or replace human efforts to detect and stop security incidents. Although security and compliance requirements differ from one industry to the next, all organizations face an overwhelming amount of cyber threats in the modern threat landscape. Security automation spans a variety of use cases across workflows and tasks performed by security experts. These are some of the most common use cases for security automation.
In a perfect world, cybersecurity tools would adequately block every threat before any organizational network was breached. Today's threat landscape thrives on deceptive attacks that masquerade as legitimate network traffic, making attacks harder to detect. How organizations respond to these attacks plays a critical role in recovery.
Incident response is the steps your organization takes in the event of a cybersecurity incident. Without automation, your team would have to investigate every alert manually, determine whether the threat is relevant, devise a plan to quarantine affected devices, and carry out recovery. Automated incident response depends on AI that uses rules-based logic to respond to alerts. With the right tools in place, automated incident response can identify whether alerts are relevant, notify specific personnel of an incident, and respond to attacks with predefined actions like quarantining affected systems or taking devices offline. These services work 24/7, providing instant response to security incidents that occur during off-hours, weekends, and vacations.
For example, if an employee unknowingly clicks on a malicious link in a phishing email, there might not be any immediate consequence that alerts your business to an attack. Analysts manually searching for malware can spend hours searching through logs to identify a single piece of data that represents a malware attack. A security orchestration system uses threat intelligence to recognize malware signatures and send out an alert and provide remediation in seconds. If a device is infected, it can be immediately quarantined to prevent further damage.
Most industries are subject to some type of compliance regulations. The recently released National Cybersecurity Strategy reveals there will be new compliance regulations across all industries in the near future. Compliance management requires the implementation of tools and processes, the application of patches and updates, and strict attention to ever-growing regulation requirements.
To maintain compliance with industry regulations, companies must follow specific business operations and record-keeping requirements. Preparing for audits can take months and require a third-party provider to assess security gaps and update your security plan. Failing an audit can mean added requirements and steep fines. For example, non-compliance with HIPAA can lead to fines that reach into the millions depending on the level of negligence. If you fail a PCI-DSS audit, you can receive a fine of up to $100,000 per month. Failure to meet GDPR regulations can amount to 20 million euros or 4% of the total annual turnover of the financial year, whichever is higher.
When automated compliance workflows are added to your automated security system's playbook, the majority of manual compliance tasks can be eliminated. Automated compliance software can provide built-in content for common standards like HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, and NIST. The software provides notifications to compliance personnel when standards change and compliance gaps are recognized. Additional automated tasks may include monitoring for compliance risks, scheduled risk assessments, and evidence collection for routine audits.
Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in different ways to breach business networks. Millions of known and unknown vulnerabilities exist. They're caused by things like unpatched software flaws, outdated software, weak passwords, and misconfigured systems.
Vulnerability management is a process that helps organizations identify and address security vulnerabilities. The entire process includes actions that identify, classify, remediate, and mitigate network vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by threat actors. To effectively manage the potential vulnerabilities within a network, analysts would need to categorize every known vulnerability in real-time, search network and endpoint logs for these vulnerabilities, and routinely conduct threat-hunting exercises to uncover potential vulnerabilities that haven't yet been discovered. Without automation, discovering all the potential vulnerabilities in your network would be virtually impossible.
Automated vulnerability management allows you to maintain real-time inventory of all assets (including cloud-based and remote). It uses a constant stream of threat intelligence to detect known vulnerabilities in your network environment and apply appropriate responses. The system can also automate routine vulnerability scans, automate patch management, and schedule software updates.
A 2020 exploit of a 4-year-old vulnerability is an excellent example of how unprotected systems can cost businesses thousands of dollars. The WannaCry attacks that first occurred in 2017 exploited a vulnerability that Microsoft had released patches for months earlier. The severity of the attack was only successful because the majority of organizations failed to patch systems when the patch was released. Even worse, 26% of companies remained vulnerable to WannaCry malware four years later. The truth is, many businesses likely remain vulnerable to threats like these because software updates and patches haven't been applied regularly.
Cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is the data that is collected, processed, and analyzed to identify existing or emerging threats that compromise the networks of businesses and individuals. It includes indicators of compromise (IOCs), like vulnerabilities, behaviors of threat actors, and tools and techniques. CTI is the backbone of every cybersecurity solution, but it is delivered as a continuous stream of information from a variety of sources. Analyzing all the information from internal and external threat feeds would be impossible with the human eye.
An automated threat intelligence platform collects, organizes, and analyzes information from multiple sources. It uses the information from multiple threat feeds to alert and respond to vulnerabilities and known attacks. A highly effective automated threat intelligence system can also remotely provide customers with immunity from threats as they evolve. For example, here at BitLyft, we utilize threat information from all users and clients on the platform as well as outside sources to validate threats as real and useful. We then add the information to our central threat intelligence warehouse to automatically provide proactive protection for each client. This can provide organizations with proactive protection against threats that haven't targeted their network and prevent costly damage.
Real-Life Scenarios of Cost Savings
Cyberattacks that shut down major corporations, cause gas shortages, and cost organizations millions of dollars make splashy headlines and command global attention. Cyberattacks that failed to hit their mark seem far less glamorous and don't make national news headlines. Yet, when you consider the cost savings and damages avoided in these circumstances, the ways security automation saves the day are pretty exciting too.
Russia's Failed Attacks on Ukraine Infrastructure
Defending critical infrastructure is a leading goal in the National Cybersecurity Strategy released by the Biden Administration and for good reason. Recent attacks that resulted in gas shortages and briefly interrupted the food supply chain only offered a glimpse into the potential damage that could be caused by a widespread attack on infrastructure. Amidst these concerns, we'd be remiss to exclude Ukraine's defensive cybersecurity tactics from examples of powerful cybersecurity efforts resulting in major savings.
Russia's attack on Ukraine brought with it big concerns about the effects of wartime cyber operations. Yet, Russia's efforts have been largely unsuccessful. At the Chatham House security and defense conference in 2022, UK's National Cyber Security Council (NCSC) CEO, Lindy Cameron, noted that while Russian attacks have been "significant and in many cases, very sophisticated", Ukrainian cyber defenses have prevailed.
A notable example is the April 2022 attempt to attack Ukraine's energy infrastructure. The attack was designed to infiltrate computers connected to multiple substations, then delete all files, which would shut related infrastructure down. The reality didn't quite measure up. Although malware successfully infiltrated some computers in Ukraine's energy sector, disruptions only occurred at one facility which was quickly remedied and resulted in no lost power. The effective defense came from a combined team of information technology staffers, Ukrainian intelligence officers, ESET, and Microsoft. Automated security features were likely based on threat procedures used in similar attacks in 2014 and 2015.
The targeted company provides electricity for an area where millions of people live. If the attack had been successful, it would have had a wide impact and been the most visible cyberattack on Ukrainian infrastructure since Russia's invasion started. The monetary costs of the attack would have been enormous and the effects on residents would have been catastrophic alongside the suffering Ukrainians are already enduring.
Private University Saves Thousands with a Security Solution to Counter Phishing Attacks
In 2017, a well-known university in Illinois was hit with a number of phishing attacks. At the time of the attacks, the university was being faced with staff cuts and didn't have the resources to hire an additional team member. IT staff members worked additional hours to spend time working on each individual account compromise, but they lacked the necessary training to combat the ongoing attacks.
After weighing its options, the university chose to invest in outside help in the form of cloud-based SOC-as-a-Service, provided by BitLyft. Once BitLyft installed its robust cybersecurity platform, the university immediately began to see the benefits of enhanced visibility. With the exposure of logins from unfamiliar locations and data provided by the BitLyft team, the university reduced reaction time before a breach even began.
How did this approach save the university money? Instead of choosing to hire cybersecurity professionals or purchase an on-prem SIEM tool, the university invested in the more cost-effective route of partnering with BitLyft. What are the costs of these options? The average cost for yearly cybersecurity staff salary ranges from $739,000 - $1,708,000, and this doesn't include the cost of 24/7 monitoring and employee benefits. SIEM costs range from around $2,000 to nearly $50,000 without considering the costs of implementation and training.
Security Automation Combined with Human Intelligence Provides a Complete Solution
Security automation is essential for effective protection against modern sophisticated cyberattacks. However, it's only one piece of the puzzle. Security automation is powered by AI tools that depend on humans to supply relevant information for proper use. Human analysts and threat hunters constantly seek new information to stay ahead of sophisticated threats.
BitLyft AIR® provides businesses with 24/7 monitoring, threat detection, incident response, and remediation capabilities to protect devices and endpoints across your entire network. Alongside highly effective automated tools, we provide businesses of all sizes with the benefits of a fully-operational security operations center with minimal investment for affordable protection that surpasses the use of tools alone. If you're unsure your cybersecurity solution keeps up with the speed of the modern threat landscape, it's time to do something about it. Get in touch with the security experts at BitLyft to learn more about a complete cybersecurity solution.