SOC Automation Use Cases: Where to Start

Security automation is a powerful tool for SOC teams, but it can be tricky to decide where to begin. Here are the top use cases to kickstart your SOC automation.

Ashlyn Eperjesi
Aug 19, 2023
 min read
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Security Operations Centers (SOCs) are indispensable for today's organizations, providing the critical layer of protection against emerging cyber threats. SOC teams and analysts are tasked with triaging these threats, which quickly becomes tedious and time-consuming. As security operations continues to grow in complexity, SOC automation has emerged as a key way to streamline security processes and better detect emerging risks.

What is SOC Automation?

SOC automation refers to the use of automation solutions to automatically execute various tasks and workflows within the SOC. Security teams commonly turn to flexible solutions, like security automation or hyperautomation platforms, to perform the duties of SOC automation.  

What SOC Use Cases to Automate First

It’s important to take time and truly consider which SOC use cases to automate first. This can vary greatly depending on your organization's unique needs. A good rule of thumb is to begin with the common and easily repeatable security tasks, then work your way forward from there. Another strategy is to prioritize the most time-consuming manual workflows so your team can save more time sooner. 

Your organization's automation strategy can be easily adapted to fit company or industry-specific needs. Here are examples of common SOC-related use cases to get you started. 

Phishing Investigation & Response

It’s estimated that 3.4 billion malicious emails are sent every day. This constant stream of phishing attacks has left many organizations struggling to keep up with alerts. Automating the detection, analysis, and response to phishing attempts gives SOC teams the ability to quickly identify and mitigate any potential security breaches, before damage is done. Security automation allows security teams to monitor and respond to countless phishing emails, without sacrificing time or resources. 

For instance, you could automate the detection and response to Gmail email phishing attempts. When an email arrives in a Gmail inbox, the automated workflow has VirusTotal scan any URLs and attachments in the email. If malicious URLs or attachments are detected, the email is deleted, and a notification is sent to a Slack channel.

Blink automated workflow: Detect and Response to Gmail Email Phishing

SIEM & EDR Alert Triage

Automation significantly improves the process of handling security alerts in SIEM and EDR systems. When alerts from various sources arrive, automation helps organize them based on their importance and type. This initial triage enables security analysts to focus on investigating and responding to legitimate threats in a timely manner, rather than wasting time sifting through a sea of false alerts.

Automation goes beyond just sorting alerts. It can connect related alerts, provide extra information from threat intelligence sources, and even compare user behavior against normal patterns to detect unusual activities. If you have predefined responses for well-known threat scenarios, such as isolating compromised devices or blocking malicious sources, you can trigger them with automation to minimize damage and maintain proper security controls.

Security teams can see immediate benefits from simple automated workflows, such as the one below. When a Splunk alert is detected, the workflow automatically opens a ticket in ServiceNow and notifies the security Slack channel. 

Blink automated workflow: On New Splunk Incident, Open Ticket in ServiceNow and Notify Security Channel

Threat Hunting

Automation greatly enhances threat hunting by providing security teams with powerful tools to proactively search for potential cybersecurity threats within an organization's network and systems. It assists by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as data collection, correlation, and analysis. Through automation, threat hunters can swiftly gather and process large volumes of data from various sources, allowing them to identify anomalies and patterns that might indicate hidden threats.

Moreover, automation helps threat hunters integrate threat intelligence feeds and contextual information, enriching their understanding of potential threats. It enables the creation of custom search queries and algorithms to automatically sift through data, flagging suspicious activities that might warrant further investigation. This combination of advanced data processing, real-time analysis, and integration of external threat data empowers security teams to identify emerging threats more efficiently, ultimately enhancing an organization's overall cybersecurity posture.

A beneficial threat hunting workflow to automate could be to find AccessDenied events in AWS and send a report to a security Slack Channel. This workflow automatically lists "AccessDenied" events with users and source IP addresses in a report. If any event in your AWS account exceeds the authorized permissions, an "AccessDenied" error will be triggered.

Blink automated workflow: Find AccessDenied Events and Send Report to Slack Channel

Incident Response

Malicious actors never sleep – well, at least that’s what it feels like. That means security teams need to be available around the clock for timely incident response. However, manual incident response can be time-consuming, expensive, and prone to human error. By automating incident response, SOC teams can streamline their processes, reduce response times, and free up resources to focus on high-priority tasks. Hyperautomation can automatically detect and respond to threats, gather relevant data, and alert stakeholders. 

For instance, automating security incident response can involve setting up automatic notifications to relevant teams when suspicious activity is detected, triggering an automatic response to shut down compromised machines, or quarantining files that exhibit malicious behavior. This could also look like an automated workflow that isolates suspicious devices with Crowdstrike, then notifies the owner via Slack and updates the ticket in ServiceNow.

Blink automated Workflow: Isolate or Unisolate Device on CrowdStrike
Blink automated workflow: Isolate or Unisolate Device on CrowdStrike

Malware Investigation

SOC automation tools can integrate across tech stacks to take vast amounts of malware data, cross-reference it with known threat databases, and deliver actionable threat intelligence. The resulting information can help SOC teams quickly identify and neutralize potential threats before they can cause damage.

For example, if a malicious file is detected, hyperautomation platforms can delve into its characteristics, such as registry keys and IP addresses, to reveal its full capabilities. By identifying patterns in the data, the tools allow SOC teams to automate incident response strategies and detect emerging threats before they become widespread.

Automation also aids in the analysis of malware behavior. Automated workflows can integrate with tools like Hybrid Analysis to detonate suspicious files in a sandbox. This runs suspected malware in isolated environments and observes its actions without risking the broader network. 

Blink automated workflow: Detonate File in Sandbox with Hybrid Analysis

Flexible Automation for SOC Teams

Automating workflows for SOC teams is no longer an afterthought, but a strategic objective for organizational success. Hyperautomation offers a force multiplier to improve productivity while reducing administrative overhead costs. SOC teams can now turn manual security orchestration into automated processes by leveraging the power of generative AI-based automation tools like Blink. 

The right automation platform should be agile and comprehensive enough to address enterprise use case needs today – while also scalable to meet future demands and emerging threats. 

For organizations looking to secure their assets and boost productivity up to 100x, it's essential to leverage the latest in security automation technology. Schedule a demo of Blink today and see how automation can help you strengthen your organization’s security posture.

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