Cybersecurity has changed dramatically in the last decade. Ten years ago, most organizations’ security tasks remained relatively straightforward, with most focusing on protecting personal computers and servers on-premises. Today, however, the cybersecurity attack surface has expanded rapidly, with malicious actors targeting printers, routers, and IoT hardware, not to mention cloud environments while using ever more sophisticated phishing attacks.
However, while the range of threats has increased, the number of people available to implement security policies remains far lower than required. And this is why many organizations are exploring how automation and cybersecurity can be used.
Automation and cybersecurity: an overview
According to a 2021 cybersecurity and automation survey, 95% of organizations automate at least some of their cybersecurity processes. This is unsurprising since most corporate antivirus programs come with automated features – such as regularly scanning web pages your end-users visit, or automatically inspecting downloads. But automation and cybersecurity can go much further.
Bringing together automation and cybersecurity is about using digital technology that can carry out tasks which would traditionally be completed manually by IT professionals. Whether it’s reporting, responding to incidents, closing or freezing accounts, or anything else, automation aims to hand over these low-value, repetitive and time-consuming tasks to a customized workflow. This allows IT teams to focus on bigger, more complex problems.
4 examples of process automation and cyber security
So, what does automating cybersecurity processes look like? There are as many potential automations as there are cybersecurity management tasks, but some of the common activities that can be handed over to an automated workflow include things like:
- Low-level incident response
Your organization’s antivirus software may well create tens or even hundreds of alerts about possible incidents each day. That is helpful, yet it is also time-consuming and often unnecessary for IT staff to inspect all of these incidents. Indeed, according to one study, three-quarters of security events or alerts get ignored because IT teams just don’t have the time to manage them.
However, with cybersecurity process automation, you can create workflows (or even use Robotic Process Automation) that decides if an incident is a significant threat that needs to be addressed now, or if it can be safely ignored.
Recommended: How to improve your incident response strategy
- Software updates
One of the most important cybersecurity processes is around updating software on all your company’s computers, mobile devices, network nodes, printers, and other hardware. With an automated system, you can verify which machines have the latest software, check with providers for new updates, and even install them automatically.
- Supporting ‘zero trust’ strategies
Many organizations today are implementing zero-trust IT security strategies, where users are regularly asked to ‘prove’ they are who they say they are when interacting with your systems. Zero trust technologies continually scan your environment to identify any unusual behavior – whether it’s someone trying to view files they’re not permitted to, logging on at unusual times, or connecting from suspicious locations.
By using automation, you can further enforce your zero trust model. For example, if an employee appears to be trying to log into your systems at 3 am, automated cybersecurity processes could instantly freeze that account without needing a member of your IT team to respond to an alert of this unusual behavior.
- Monitoring and reporting
IT teams today have an enormous number of tasks to perform, not least of which is the requirement to produce reports on things like cybersecurity incidents and red flags. With workflow technology, you can automate many of these cybersecurity reporting processes.
The technology can collect data from all your cybersecurity systems, populate your reports with the latest information, and automatically produce reports weekly, monthly or however often you need them.
Benefits of process automation and cyber security
In many ways, the advantages of automation and cybersecurity speak for themselves. By automating your cybersecurity processes, you can:
- Free up hours of time for your IT teams every week
- Help them to avoid tedious and low-value monitoring and reporting activities
- Catch more cybersecurity incidents early
- Reduce the costs of cybersecurity breaches – one IBM study found that organizations without automated cybersecurity processes spent more than twice as much recovering from breaches as those which did use cybersecurity automation
- Enable IT teams to work more efficiently and productively
- Improve IT teams’ morale and job satisfaction
Automate key cybersecurity processes with Nintex
Nintex’s workflow automation technology is currently used by thousands of organizations around the world to manage a wide variety of IT workloads and cybersecurity processes. With our easy-to-use workflow builder, you can quickly map out robust cyber security processes, define triggers, and create escalation procedures. Nintex also features Robotic Process Automation tools, which help your track incidents, create reports and save hours of time and effort.