Imagine if you could put on a robotic exoskeleton, become a superhero – just like Tony Stark in Iron Man – and save the world. It’s the stuff of comic books, right? But what if I told you it wasn’t a fiction? What if the ability to enhance ourselves and do things we never thought possible was all around us?
Greg White, Director, Security Operations at ServiceNow discusses the benefits of adopting automation in cybersecurity teams explains more below.
Take the example of the automobile. In the 19th century, we could never have imagined driving down the motorway at 70 miles an hour in our own car. The idea that you could do that in car without a driver would have been unfathomable. But is happening now, and it is happening thanks to automation. And automation is the key to giving regular people far more superpowers – none more so than in the cybersecurity sector.
The automation era
Automation is having its moment. It was one of the biggest topics at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF), and it has featured across the TED and Davos circuit. Economists, business leaders and politicians are trying to understand the future changes that it will bring.
Technological innovation is already changing the skill set required for a wide range of jobs. Greater adoption of automation will result in further incremental improvements that can deliver massive efficiency gains across a wide range of industries.
These changes are largely a good thing. When technology works well, as in the case of the car during the last 100 years, it sticks because it benefits those using it. Today, the right software and automated workflows go a long way to enhancing how we do things, in and out of our working lives.
What this could mean for cybersecurity
With access to more information and data than ever before, IT security teams don’t have enough time in the day to process everything. Moreover, there is currently a massive cybersecurity talent gap. Organisations are struggling to hire and retain cybersecurity professionals in a very competitive climate – such is the shortage, one third of cybersecurity job postings get no views at all according to job site Indeed.
With the right employees in short supply then, automation’s ability to give people superpowers is in much demand. As such, automation is already transforming the way organisations are protected.
For example, the incident investigation process is a typically long and tedious process. It involves cutting and pasting items such as IP addresses, malware hashes and URLs into multiple systems to learn about them, determine if an incident is real and if any action that should be taken. These tasks that are more efficient when carried out by machines and automated systems are stepping into the fold. All of sudden it means that a security analyst can simply see the results of the investigation and then make a decision on how to proceed – their metaphorical superpowered exoskeleton.
When implemented effectively machines and people create a symphony, where machines play the “instruments” of mundane time-consuming work while humans step up into a conductor role, overseeing machines and the benefits of automation in an altogether new way.
For security teams this is vital in enabling them to work more efficiently and focus on critical events quickly. It gives them the bandwidth to step back and prioritise the important things ahead of time, resulting in analysts being able to be proactive and available when a real problem happens.
Technology assisting humans – working together in harmony
Whether its security teams or everyday consumers, users intuitively understand the possibilities of technology. As new devices and tools hit the market, users form organic relationships with the ones that best suit their needs and identities, and find ways to use that technology to create entirely new workflows, concepts and processes. Think of how people interact with their Amazon Echo or iPhone — good technology connects with us.
Automation means making tasks faster, better, cheaper and more reliable, and in sectors such as cybersecurity it is creating another new world around us. Automating the incident investigation process is just the start, but it is already allowing overextended security teams to become superhuman so they take on the real challenges to protect their organisation.