Extended detection and response (XDR) solutions provide an organization with the capability to identify advanced and sophisticated threats to its IT infrastructure. An important characteristic of an XDR platform is the ability to automate activities in response to a detected threat. We are going to look at how security incident automation is currently accomplished in an XDR solution and how this functionality is expected to evolve going forward.
What is security incident automation?
Security incident automation refers to the autonomous actions performed by an XDR solution in response to a detected potential cyberthreat. Automating the responses to the sophisticated threats targeting IT environments is a complex undertaking that involves coordination between the three main components of XDR.
Collecting and applying threat intelligence - Threat intelligence (TI) is a crucial element of an XDR system. TI is typically developed by collecting telemetry from various sources that are then used to analyze current and emerging threats. An example of a reliable source of TI is the T1 Internet backbone used by Samurai’s XDR solution. In addition to the TI collection, an XDR solution automatically applies it when applicable to mitigate the damage of detected threats.
Performing triage - Cybersecurity triage refers to the process of assigning importance and urgency to alerts in order to determine which ones to attend to first. Your XDR platform plays an important role in making this process easier for you by leveraging contextual information and TI. Correlating multiple alerts, possibly from different sources, with a single threat is a key capability which helps you to reduce the number of alerts you have to worry about, and instead focus just on the important ones. Triage is a complex process that is extremely difficult to perform effectively with manual procedures. Automated triage is one of the major benefits of an XDR solution.
Automating the response process - Through the effective use of threat intelligence and triage, an XDR solution identifies threats to the environment and can perform certain activities in response to the danger. The tool will generate prioritized alerts that can be addressed promptly by an organization’s security personnel. In some cases, some or all parts of a response can be automated,~~ ~~reducing the human workload and minimizing the potential for errors when responding to cyberthreats.
Types of Security Incident Automation
Security incident automation is not at the stage where it can address all cyberthreats to a company’s IT environment. Mitigating the complexity and sophistication of certain threats requires the contextual knowledge and input of support staff familiar with the affected users to form a timely and effective response. Specifically, two classes of incidents lend themselves to being handled by automated responses from an XDR platform to augment the work of human security personnel.
Elementary incidents with established responses - Typical incidents that have well-defined and established responses can be addressed automatically by an XDR solution. An example is a dormant threat that can easily be removed to eliminate any danger to the environment. Upon detection of a threat of this type, XDR can trigger a tested and effective response.
Time-critical incidents - Automated systems can respond more quickly than humans when time-critical incidents are detected. An automated response can mitigate a threat where any delay might cause damage to the environment. XDR helps stop threats that are too fast-moving to be efficiently addressed by security personnel.
How are the Appropriate Automated Responses Determined?
XDR typically determines the appropriate automated responses to an incident through one of two methods.
Predefined runbooks - Organizations implementing XDR can develop predefined runbooks to address specific types of detected threats. This facility allows customization in the way threats are handled to align with a company’s unique infrastructure or business objectives. A runbook can define a complex series of steps to be taken in response to a threat to mitigate the danger to the environment.
Built-in default responses - XDR solutions may provide built-in responses as a default for common or typically identified threats. These default responses can essentially be customized through the creation of the aforementioned runbooks that allow organizations to address threats according to their preferences.
If neither of these response methods is appropriate in response to a given threat, XDR provides security personnel with the details necessary to manually address it.
What are the Benefits of Security Incident Automation?
Implementing XDR with its security incident automation provides companies with multiple benefits that help diminish the risk of cybersecurity threats.
**Faster response time **- There is often very little time to respond to a detected threat before it begins to cause damage to the IT environment. The faster response time available through incident automation can be the difference between a threat that is successfully defended against and one that impacts the infrastructure.
Elimination of human error - Unfortunately, the potential for human error can impact the ability to respond to threats effectively. Automating certain responses eliminates the chance that security personnel make a mistake that allows a threat to propagate or cause damage.
Reduced stress on security personnel - Automating the responses to a subset of detected threats reduces the stress on an organization’s security personnel. XDR helps the staff identify the important alerts and threats that must be dealt with immediately. Allowing XDR to handle the elementary and time-critical incidents it excels at enables humans to focus on addressing the more complex threats that are currently beyond the capabilities of incident automation.
Are There Any Potential Pitfalls of Security Incident Automation?
Some issues can negatively impact the effectiveness of security incident automation. Controlling these issues is necessary to obtain optimal performance and maximum benefits from an XDR solution.
False positive alerts - An XDR system that generates numerous false positive alerts will defeat its purpose of streamlining defenses against cyberthreats. Security personnel will waste time running down false alarms and may incur alert fatigue in which important information is ignored.
Unnecessary or ineffective responses - A poorly performing XDR system may initiate unnecessary or ineffective responses through inferior security incident automation. In some cases, the responses may cause more damage than the threat and result in degraded system performance and operation.
The sophisticated and complex nature of breaches provides a high degree of nuance to threats that require actions that may be missed through security incident automation. A safe approach is to automate response elements that can be well-defined while also incorporating a human element to ensure all eventualities have been covered.
The Future of Security Incident Automation
As the XDR industry matures, solutions provide new response capabilities. Future developments may include fully automated responses generated by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology. The current state of XDR technology is best used by customers to automate simple and common responses while taking advantage of the solution’s superior ability to detect threats.
The level of automation an organization requires may be influenced by the size and complexity of the IT environment it is meant to protect. Less complex environments will not need the same level of automation as larger, more complicated infrastructures. In these cases, customers should focus on simpler automation that streamlines threat containment while reducing the stress on staff so they can address more complex incidents.
An Advanced XDR Solution
Samurai XDR is a powerful and advanced open XDR solution suitable for organizations of all sizes and infrastructure complexity. It incorporates data from across the organization to respond quickly and accurately to cyberthreats. Samurai XDR provides reactive and proactive threat hunting capabilities that help an organization mitigate the effects of breaches and prevent them from occurring
See Samurai XDR in action by requesting a free private beta invitation. Talk to the threat detection and response experts at Samurai and start improving your company’s data protection capabilities.
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