SOAR (security orchestration, automation, and response) is a conglomerate of tools and processes that generate automated responses to a wide range of security events, with the explicit intention of alleviating pressure and reducing workloads on IT teams, while streamlining and automating remediation and responses to security incidents. This automation of remediation also in turn reduces the number of actual alerts IT teams have to assess and remediate themselves, which improves workers’ productivity and job satisfaction by reducing “alert fatigue” – a sense of apathy and desensitization from the sheer number of alerts IT teams deal with on a regular basis.
The solution has three main functions. First, it manages and tracks any developing threats and vulnerabilities in real-time. Second, it responds to these security incidents as they continue to develop. And finally, it automates a large range of security functions in order to reduce boring and repetitive tasks for your IT teams, allowing them to focus on other areas of their work and not impact their productivity. With these powers combined, SOAR delivers an extensive, three-pronged approach to security and remediation. Once a threat in the network is detected, immediate and automated strategies and responses spring into action.
But does your security team need a SOAR solution, and how can you go about choosing the right SOAR platform for your business?
How Does SOAR Work?
SOAR essentially presents a more unified and consolidated look into the entire network by automatically aggregating as much data as possible from external and internal sources. It helps various IT teams to be able to combine their resources and efforts in order to tackle and remediate larger threats–without having to worry about minor events and alerts as well. The automation side of SOAR also helps to streamline incident response workflows, removing many of the manual tasks IT teams would normally have to perform, such as managing user access and query logs. This means that, with SOAR, IT teams can manage, plan, and respond to a developing security threat more effectively and much faster than without. Having SOAR as an extra security layer also removes more instances of human error, making responses more accurate.
But for all of this to happen successfully, SOAR needs to collate as much information as possible. It will aggregate data from SIEM platforms, EDR platforms, firewalls, vulnerability scanners, end-user behavior analytics and more. After pulling this information, SOAR can further enrich collated information and data by analyzing it through machine learning and artificial intelligence, with human intelligence supplied by IT teams also analyzing the information.
The platform can also automate playbooks and workflows, including incident response workflows–another important tenet of SOAR. Playbooks and workflows can be configured for a range of processes, including threat intelligence, threat hunting, phishing email investigation, vulnerability and patch management, and more.
For more information on what SOAR actually is and how it works, check out our in-depth blog on the topic here:
What Is SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, And Response)?
SOAR vs SIEM
Typically, only MSPs, SOCs, and large organizations can really stand to benefit from implementing a SOAR platform. SOAR is often seen as an “extension” of security information and event management (SIEM), a security tool that works in two main ways. Firstly, it aggregates and stores log data for future and further analysis and reporting. It aggregates this information from a variety of sources, including threat intelligence data, file changes, operating system startups and shutdowns, and so on. Essentially, it performs data collection across the entire network.
The other side of SIEM supports the analysis of all system events and alerts, delivering this information to SOCs and IT teams in order to help them identify anomalies, threats, and vulnerabilities within the network so they can then focus on remediation. Of course, SOAR takes this one step further by actually delivering this remediation. SOCs tend to use a SOAR solution alongside their SIEM tool to develop a better understanding of network activity and automate workflows and responses, create playbooks, and assess event data.
The Benefits Of A SOAR Solution
- Reduce costs: With so many processes, responses, and alerts being taken care of and streamlined without too much input on behalf of your IT team, SOAR saves time and resources, which in turn reduces expenditure.
- Speed up remediation: The worst thing that can happen with an attack or breach after the event has happened, is for these threats to continue to develop and affect the rest of your network. Having a SOAR architecture in place can help your IT team to quickly detect and remediate these attacks, preventing them from doing further damage.
- Improve efficiency through customization and flexibility: A crucial component of a SOAR platform is how it can be highly tailored to a company’s specific requirements and needs, with the program being able to change according to what the existing security stack requires of it. As a result, it can often easily be installed and configured into any existing setups without complete system overhauls.
- Save time and resources: Overall, with the platform automating responses and taking care of smaller incidents that don’t require a human eye to assess, having a SOAR framework in place greatly reduces time spent on these minor, and often tedious, issues and reduces the stress from dealing with a constant barrage of alerts. This saves time on behalf of your IT team, leaving them to focus on things that do matter and resulting in higher levels of productivity and satisfaction with work overall. With more time being left to work on bigger and more important tasks, this reduces the need for recruitment and the hiring of new staff as the current team can actually devote their time to more pressing matters.
What Features Do I Need To Look For In A SOAR Solution?
We’re so glad you asked. We’ve collected a list of some of the most important features you need to look for when searching for a SOAR solution for your business. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Every company is different, so your SOAR tool should be as well. Any SOAR platform worth its salt should have a high level of customization and granular policies, so admins can configure and tailor the platform exactly how they need it in order to maximize the best usage out of the product.
Tracking And Reporting
Any SOAR solution should have highly robust tracking and reporting capabilities, with the platform pulling data in from all sources and turning it into actionable and clear reports.
SOAR platforms are only really necessary for managed service providers (MSPs) or for medium to large organizations who need help managing alerts and events. Even through a SOAR platform, admins receive a lot of alerts from all the organizations they support. In order to not confuse MSP teams and make sure that they know exactly where these alerts are coming from and what’s happening where, SOAR delivers something called multi-tenancy to help separate and group these issues and alerts for easier remediation, analytics, and troubleshooting.
SOAR can enable integration of an MSP’s master console with customer premises appliances, which in turn allows IT teams to onboard and manage numerous users effectively and successfully, segregate data, control access for users, and more.
Playbooks are a critical component of any SOAR program. Playbooks are an built-in feature to SOAR that automate and execute a range of tasks, with the intention of reducing the amount and scale of repetitive tasks for security teams. Playbooks essentially ensure that all security processes, rules, and so on are actually enforced through the network. While all SOAR tools have playbooks as a built-in feature, not all of them are as robust as others and not all of them have high levels of customization–a tenet that is critical to ensuring your company gets the best use out of the product.
As these playbooks are critical to the SOAR tool working in the way that you want it to, ideally the SOAR solution you choose should enable simple and straightforward playbook and workflow creation and customization. When shopping for a platform, it’s best to look for vendors that provide specific workflow building tools that come with custom coding capabilities and “out-of-the-box” workflow functionality. Playbooks and workflows should also support event correlation and aggregation in order to improve security capabilities and discover vulnerabilities.
While playbooks are run of the mill for any SOAR solution, some solutions offer more visual playbook editing capabilities. This provides a cleaner and easier way for admins to create, edit, and implement their automated playbooks, as well as have other members of your team collaborate on a playbook.
While it may seem like an obvious one, looking for a SOAR solution that has excellent granular access controls is key. Having tight granular control over the entire SOAR platform makes sure that no one has access to anything they shouldn’t, especially when it concerns sensitive security data. Access controls for individuals should be highly configurable, drawing on a range of factors for access, such as groups, users, roles and more.
Threat Intelligence Management
Threat intelligence is essentially information and data that has been collated about potential and developing threats. Threat intelligence management is a bit different; it’s the collection, enrichment, and actioning of this data and also of potential attackers and attacks, along with their targets, motivations, and what they’re actually capable of. A good SOAR platform will have this built in, automatically and diligently pulling this information and feeding it into the platform to provide extensive data and analytics to staff. This feature offers more context on threats so IT teams can make better, more informed decisions.
Good SOAR solutions should have strong integration between all apps–both SOAR applications and any others in your security stack. SOAR should be able to direct any of your other security tools to get them to perform security tasks. Applications in your stack should also be able to be easily managed, with admins able to create, edit, and test apps from your SOAR solutions. Ideally, admins should be able to test, add code, see log results, and troubleshoot everything in your applications, as well as have heightened visibility into your applications and how they function.
Cloud deployment is the default for a lot of SOAR vendors, but it’s worth finding out exactly how the platform is deployed and what other additional deployment options there are. Ideally, the solution should have the ability to be deployed either as on-prem, cloud, or SaaS, to fit within your existing architecture and give you the flexibility to switch to a different deployment model should your state of cloud migration change. The platform should support a wide range of security tools and products, including SIEM, SEGs, firewalls, endpoint security tools, and intrusion prevention and intrusion detection technologies.
Third Party Integrations
In addition to aggregating data from internal sources, a great SOAR solution will also pull as much information as it can from a variety of third-party sources, supporting open-source, industry, government, and commercial providers.
Another handy feature to look for is the support of bidirectional integrations with IT operational solutions, such as ticketing systems for collaboration tools, such as messaging applications which improves communication in real-time.
Case And Event Management
For case management, through the use of workbooks, admins should be able to make reusable templates, divide tasks, assign these tasks to team members, and document work and progress. In the case of event management, your SOAR solution should allow for the consolidation of all events with the ability to sort and filter through these events in order to identify specific events and then prioritize them and make faster, more decisive actions.
Mobile support is more of a “nice to have” than a necessity, but if your organization has an IT team that is on the move a lot, then you can stand to benefit from choosing a SOAR vendor that enables your staff to perform tasks from their mobile devices.
While purchasing a new SOAR platform can be somewhat of a daunting task, keeping the above points in mind can help you make a better, more informed decision. The most important thing to consider is that your admin team likes the product and responds well to it, as well as the product integrating well with your existing security stack. As your admins and IT teams will be the ones benefiting from your SOAR solution, their satisfaction with the overall decision is absolutely key.