Automated security processes are the key to keeping businesses safer. From hospitals to MSPs, large enterprises to SMEs, local businesses to global ones — regardless of how your business is categorized, it is vulnerable to security breaches. That’s simply a fact these days.
The positive news, however, is that security processes can help businesses avoid possible incidents and respond more quickly should an incident occur.
What is a security process?
A company’s security process is the means by which a company establishes, implements and monitors rules and protocols that are intended to keep it safer. To say that it is a single process is misleading as “security process” is an overarching concept that encompasses several aspects of corporate security. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this includes:
Is this different from cyber security processes?
Yes and no.
Oftentimes, in thinking about security, one’s mind jumps to barbed wire fences and people patrolling the perimeter of a building. These days, however, there is just as much – if not more – threat made possible through digital means.
In either case, the same security process steps are appropriate. To protect the building, you might have a policy requiring access cards. You might train your people to carry them and not prop doors open. You would have someone in charge of controlling who gets an access card and monitoring door access logs. Perhaps there are penalties for not following the rules, and it all rolls up to an overriding strategy that states only employees are allowed to walk freely through the building.
The same applies in cyber security: These same subprocesses are addressed, but the activities are, naturally, different. You may have a policy that VPN access is required for remote employees, so you train employees on how and when to use it. You limit the number of people who can provide this access and keep an eye on logs. All of which is part of your strategy to reduce unauthorized network access.
Several reputable organizations suggest cybersecurity guidance that can help organizations think through and implement effective cybersecurity processes. Among these are the US government-sponsored NIST’s cybersecurity framework and the international ISO/IEC 27000 information security standards.
How is this related to an automated process?
Regardless of whether you are talking about security processes in general or a subset of these, such as cybersecurity processes, a process is a specified series of steps that are performed in order, beginning with a specific event and ending with a defined result.
As a very simple example, consider the access badge from above. The process here might be:
- Employee is hired.
- A badge request is submitted.
- The request is approved.
- The badge is created.
- The employee starts work.
- The employee signs policy-required paperwork.
- The badge is given to the employee.
Passing the necessary information back and forth between security, IT, the hiring manager, etc. would require wasted time as emails were written, dates verified, etc. It could also result in errors (For example, the employee is starting on 09/10/21, and someone accidentally types 10/09/21. Now, the badge isn’t prepared when the employee arrives.)
Automation takes all of these steps and puts as many as possible into a digital format. Then, as one step is completed, the What’s more, automated processes can connect several systems and solutions, passing data from one to the next quickly and accurately.
Why use automated security processes?
One of the biggest benefits of automated security processes is that it ensures no process steps are missed. When you’re relying on these defined processes to keep you safe, you certainly don’t want people taking shortcuts. Since the steps are sequential, the system is prompting one step after another based on what happened before.
When you're relying on these defined processes to keep you safe, you certainly don't want people taking shortcuts.
A second benefit is that, when an incident does occur, teams are able to respond much more quickly. For instance, notifications may be automatically trigged, keeping the right people informed without wasting precious minutes typing up emails. Or, by using defined criteria, you can let automation prioritize events for you: Focus in on what’s most important fast.
As mentioned above, with automated security processes mistakes are minimized too. Typos, incorrect assignments, or missed intelligence are drastically reduced as all of the information is only entered once – and sometimes even this is done automatically.
In the big picture, this all saves the business money. After all, the faster and more thoroughly one can respond to an incident, the less loss or fine the business incurs as a result of the situation.
What are examples of security processes that can be automated?
Of course, the badge is only one tiny example. There are hundreds of processes that are in place to help businesses protect themselves from risks and to get back up and running in the event of an incident. Many of these can use automation too. Consider:
- Managing privileged passwords
- Analyzing and responding to events
- Conducting a network security audit
- Coordinating security training for employees
Overall, security processes help companies respond more quickly when incidents happen because everyone knows what to do when, mistakes are minimized and communication is enhanced. Using automated security processes as much as possible speeds things up even more. As you look to protect your organization, spend time developing processes and automate these in a business process management or in a security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) solution for cybersecurity processes.
What security processes do you wish your team would or could automate?