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Monday, May 1st, 2017

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Why automation is the key to the future of cyber security

Why automation is the key to the future of cyber security

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitters approach.

In 2015 there were 781 publicized cyber security breaches which resulted in more than 169 million personal records being exposed – a number that’s steadily on the rise year over year. And with notable names like BlueCross, Harvard and Target being tossed into the mix, it’s obvious that no company is safe. Yet, only 38% of organizations across the globe can confidently say they are prepared to handle a sophisticated cyber-attack.

The numbers don’t lie. Cyber criminals are becoming savvier and their attacks are increasing faster than companies can keep up. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly evident that traditional methods, like anti-malware software, are no longer sufficient to keep sensitive data safe. To address this glaring need, many forward-thinking IT executives are fortifying their cyber security strategy using automation as a tool for greater defense.

Perhaps even as recent as a decade ago, the majority of organizations were adequately prepared for cyber-attacks. Today IT is up against advanced persistent threats (APTs) and, more importantly, these attacks are being spearheaded not by human assailants, but by automated bots – droves and droves of them.

Simply put, IT personnel are no match for such intensive, sustained attacks. Not only are humans incapable of keeping up with the sheer volume of incoming threats, but their ability to make quick and highly-impactful decisions to manually address such an attack is equally inefficient. This is why automation is becoming such a powerful and effective component of cyber security incident response. To combat the onslaught of incoming threats, organizations must employ an army of equivalent strength and sophistication.

Essentially, it’s fighting fire with fire – the battle of the good bots against those that aim to do your business harm.

So what’s holding companies back? Well, for starters, there are a number of concerns around incorporating automation into cyber security:

Loss of Control In many instances, the biggest hurdle to automation is simply a perceived loss of control. In reality, the right automation tool can actually provide a greater level of visibility and enhanced oversight into the entire cyber security process.

Lack of Trust It’s easy for a highly-skilled human worker to feel as though they are more capable of managing incident response than a machine could. Distrust of technology can be an incredibly big hurdle to overcome, but ultimately – given the shift in type, frequency and complexity of attacks – it’s a futile argument.

Fear of Change Perhaps the biggest misconception of automation is the idea that its adoption spells the certain demise of the human workforce. What will happen when technology takes over the IR process? Will the IT department be replaced by robots? The fact is that while automation is certainly changing the way people work, its creating just about as many opportunities as it is eliminating them.

To address these perceived disadvantages, there are a number of significant truths about automation’s role in cyber security.