What is SOC Automation? Why it Matters

An organization’s security operations center (SOC) team can leverage automation to streamline alert triage and incident response. Dive into this guide on SOC automation to learn more.

Ashlyn Eperjesi
Aug 14, 2023
 min read
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As digital threats evolve and become more frequent, security operations centers – or SOCs – have become indispensable in keeping organizations safe. And as these security threats increase, so does the volume of data that needs to be collected, analyzed, and acted upon by SOCs. 

It’s no wonder then that security teams have begun to leverage SOC automation. Simply put, automation is an essential part of any SOC’s toolset and security teams to work more efficiently and stay ahead of the threats.

What is SOC Automation?

In essence, SOC automation is the use of dedicated platforms to automate repetitive processes and tasks within a SOC. This includes automating processes across the full range of security operations, from monitoring and analysis to response and resolution. Some of the SOC processes that can be automated include alert triage, incident response, threat hunting, and others. 

Automation in SOCs can involve the use of advanced large language models (LLMs) and generative AI to help SOC teams process large data volumes, identify security threats faster, and respond to them more efficiently. User-friendly solutions such as no-code security automation and hyperautomation platforms typically leverage generative AI. 

What is a SOC?

A security operations center, or SOC, is the heartbeat of any organization's security people, processes, and technologies. It’s the central hub that monitors, detects, and responds to potential security threats to the company's network, systems, and data. The primary goal of a SOC is to use security data analytics, advanced technologies, and human expertise to proactively prevent or minimize security incidents.

Inside a SOC, expert security analysts and threat hunters use sophisticated tools and techniques to help protect their company's digital assets. From monitoring network traffic and responding to alerts to conducting forensic investigations and risk assessments, the SOC is a vital part of any modern organization's cyber defense strategy.

Why SOC Automation Matters

Security threats have evolved significantly over the years, especially with the rapid expansion of generative AI tools. It’s a challenge for SOC teams to keep up with these changes. Security professionals are inundated with large volumes of alerts and false positives that require manual processing. Needless to say, analyst burnout is all too common for many teams.

Automation helps SOC teams operate more efficiently, making it possible to sift through vast quantities of data, identify the real threats more efficiently, reduce incident response times, and ultimately improve the overall security posture of the organization. With SOC automation, security teams can focus more on what they do best: keeping the organization protected. 

Benefits of Automating Security Workflows

Automating common security workflows can greatly benefit SOC teams. By implementing the right automation solution in your SOC team can improve metrics, work satisfaction, security ROI, and more. Benefits of SOC automation include:

  • Improve MTTD and MTTR: SOC automation quickly detects and responds to security incidents, which common performance improves metrics like mean-time-to-detect and mean-time-to-respond.
  • Gain Consistency and Accuracy: Automation helps to ensure security policies and responses are consistently applied without human error by automatically performing the proper processes.
  • Reduce Analyst Workload: Free up analysts to focus on more critical tasks by automating repetitive, time-consuming processes. In turn, SOC analysts can see improvements in work-life balance and job satisfaction.
  • Scalability: Automation enables the SOC to handle growing security demands efficiently. As your organization and team sizes shift, no-code automation can scale with these changes. 
  • Optimize Resource Use: Improve resource allocation with automation that prioritizes and manages alerts automatically. Analysts will spend more time on real, high-level threats versus false positives.
  • Enhance Collaboration: Communication between analysts – and even between teams – is crucial to ensuring proper alert triage. No-code automation makes it easier for the SOC team, IT, GRC, and even HR to collaborate. For instance, common tools like BambooHR and Slack can be integrated so the SOC team can quickly be notified whenever a new employee is added.
  • Cost Efficiency: No-code SOC automation reduces long-term costs by minimizing the need for additional staff and resources.

Common Use Cases to Automate in the SOC

Automating certain processes in the SOC can significantly enhance its efficiency, reduce human errors, and allow security analysts to focus on more strategic tasks. Here are some of the top SOC processes that are commonly automated:

Alert Triage and Prioritization: SOC Automation can be used to perform initial triage on incoming alerts and prioritize them based on severity and relevance. For example, a report can be automatically sent via Slack of new Orca security alerts. This ensures that critical threats are addressed promptly while minimizing false positives.

Incident Response: For well-defined and documented threats, predefined workflows can be automated to handle incidents swiftly and consistently. For instance, SOC teams can be notified via Slack when an endpoint is isolated with Crowdstrike.

Phishing and Malware Analysis: Automation can be employed to analyze suspicious emails and files, which allows the SOC team to quickly identify and respond to potential phishing attempts and malware infections. Common workflows teams can automate include gathering threat forensics from Proofpoint and sending those results via Slack.

Threat Hunting: With the time saved from automating repetitive tasks, SOC teams can turn their focus to more proactive security processes. SOC automation can also be used to streamline threat hunting efforts, such as detecting insider threats and IOCs, as well as remediation. For example, SOC teams can automatically search for an IOC across all Gmail users, gather evidence, parce the emails, and report the results to the team via Slack.

blink copilot automated workflow for search Gmail IOC across emails using GMail and Slack
Blink Copilot automated workflow: Search Gmail IOC Across Emails

Considerations for Automating SOC Workflows

It’s important to note that while automation can be incredibly beneficial, it should not completely replace human involvement. Human analysts play a crucial role in higher-level decision-making, complex investigations, and adapting to new threats. A well-balanced approach, where automation supports and enhances human efforts, is the key to an effective SOC.

With that in mind, the first step to successfully automating SOC workflows is to choose the right tool for the job. Until recently, this has been easier said than done. 

With the introduction of SOAR platforms (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response), organizations elevated automation for IR and SOC – not without challenges, though. SOAR demands extensive engineering resources to become effective. Every workflow requires research into which APIs and commands should be used. The result is months to automate a single workflow. 

In an attempt to solve what SOAR couldn’t, low-code security automation hit the market. The appeal of low-code is its lower barrier of entry. However – regardless of the coding aspect – if you want to automate anything, you need the proper details. Researching the correct APIs or CLI commands is a time-consuming process for security practitioners. Low-code solutions don’t always automatically populate this information.

To keep humans in the automation loop, it’s important to select a SOC automation tool that is both accessible and scalable. Let’s look at what SOC teams should consider when searching for a SOC automation solution.

What to Look for in a SOC Automation Tool 

There are plenty of choices when it comes to implementing automation in your SOC. To make the most of your SOC automation platform, here are a few key capabilities to look for:

No-Code Automation

As security teams struggle with a global skills shortage, the demand for intuitive, easy-to-use platforms has skyrocketed. No-code security automation removes the need for developers and coding experts in order to create automated workflows. That means more entry-level analysts can be onboarded quickly and start using no-code solutions faster. For understaffed SOC teams, accessible no-code automation means more time saved and alerts triaged. 

The Use of Generative AI

Generative AI is talked about everywhere nowadays and for good reason. When used effectively, AI can help security teams improve efficiency and eliminate low-level work. Some no-code security automation platforms, like Blink, utilize AI and large language models (LLMs) to further benefit security operations teams. 

AI Copilots, or assistants, can automatically perform the more time-consuming or labor-intensive tasks associated with automation platforms. For instance, Blink Copilot can generate an automated workflow from a single written prompt. Look for an automation platform that uses generative AI most effectively for your team. 

Automation Beyond the SOC 

Threats aren’t limited to just the SOC. When considering SOC automation solutions, it’s important to look at the bigger picture of how your organization can make the most of security automation. That could be automating compliance and auditing processes, or employee onboarding/offboarding and SaaS security. Investing and implementing any security tool is a commitment, so choose a platform that can adapt and scale with your organization’s needs.  

SOC automation is more than just a buzzword. It brings significant benefits to the SOC, allowing security teams to do their job better and more efficiently. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, SOC automation will become more crucial for organizations to stay one step ahead of security threats. 

Whether you’re a CISO, SOC manager, or SOC analyst, it's time to consider no-code security automation to enhance your security operations, prevent potential breaches, and boost your organization's cybersecurity posture. Discover how Blink Copilot can help. Schedule a demo today.

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