Business, cybersecurity, Security, soar, Software

What Is SOAR? (And Why You Should Care)

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Like home invaders, cybercriminals don’t knock before they break in. Unlike physical intruders, though, they don’t make a bang when they smash down the door. 

The typical small business might not seem likely to suffer a break-in. But because small business leaders often have fewer cybersecurity protocols in place, hackers often see them as “low-hanging fruit” opportunities. 

Security information and event management (SIEM) systems have become affordable enough for many small businesses. Despite issues with false positives, modern ones are good at identifying signs of intrusion. In most cases, however, SIEM systems can’t confront threats themselves.

To actually stop threats, businesses are turning to SOAR security. But what, exactly, is SOAR, and why does it make more sense than manual incident response?

What is SOAR?

SOAR is a combination of software programs that work together to stop cyber threats. SOAR stands for “Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response.”

To understand SOAR, it helps to think through some of the challenges that cybersecurity teams face. Three are particularly relevant to SOAR:

  1. Monitoring data stored on and transmitted by networks, devices, and third-party software is a massive undertaking. 
  2. Every company has more vulnerabilities than it can possibly deal with. As a result, teams prioritize fixing a few glaring ones.
  3. Patching vulnerabilities takes time because the process is complex and, in some cases, teams lack the internal expertise.

Some companies address those issues by hiring more staff, but cybersecurity talent is difficult to find and expensive to employ. The obvious solution is to accept that you can’t fix every vulnerability or check every file, and instead focus on stopping threats. 

That’s exactly what SOAR seeks to do. Let’s look at how it works: 

  • Security Orchestration

Every company’s network consists of multiple software and hardware components. Security Orchestration makes sure all of these technologies are “talking” to one another. 

  • Automation

Only when network technologies communicate can security processes be automated. SOAR systems use a combination of pre-set and customized automations to deal with certain security risks. This reduces response times and the general burden on the IT team.

SOAR systems’ ability to respond in real time is what makes them uniquely valuable. A lot of cybersecurity solutions can describe the threat, but they can’t actually do anything to stop it. SOAR responds using its programmed automations by, for example, isolating devices or interrupting transfers.

Why Do Companies Use SOAR?

It’s true that a trained information security team can do most or all of what a SOAR system can do. So why would a company invest in one? Three reasons stand out:

1. SOAR Improves Efficiency

The most obvious advantage to SOAR is how much it improves efficiency. The bottom line is, companies that use SOAR stop more security issues in less time. 

A good analogy is email automation. Sure, marketers can type out every email newsletter to every customer. But that takes an awful lot of time and creates opportunities for human error. Like email automation tools do for marketers, security automation systems help IT teams work faster and make fewer mistakes. 

With SOAR, security staff can automate recurring tasks that humans do not need to oversee. These automations are refined over time, progressively reducing the IT team’s workload.

What’s more, SOAR orchestrates systems that may have previously been managed by multiple departments. That further improves efficiency and reduces errors by minimizing cross-team communication. 

2. SOAR Is Flexible

Another plus of SOAR systems is how adaptable they are. Whether you run a small business or a global enterprise — which face different types of threats, and in different proportions — SOAR can improve your security posture. 

You add or remove networks from SOAR as your company’s technology landscape shifts. No matter how many different tools you use, you can analyze and protect them from a single dashboard.

SOAR systems are also flexible in terms of automations. If you discover a certain one is doing more harm than good, you can modify or delete it. And if you realize your team is doing certain tasks repeatedly, you can add new automations. 

Every company has different challenges and goals. Security automation systems cannot be one-size-fits-all. 

3. SOAR Is Affordable

Because SOAR is flexible and boosts productivity, it saves companies money. Not only is hiring security staff expensive, but the average cost of a data breach — including soft costs, such as reputational damage — is nearly $4 million

SOAR let businesses do more with their current security staff. And because a SOAR system can prevent certain breaches from happening in the first place, it can pay for itself by stopping even a single attack.

The fact of the matter is, cyberattacks will only increase in regularity and complexity. The best time to implement a SOAR system was when you started storing sensitive data; the second best time is today.

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