How Intelligent Automation and AI Address Key Problems Facing the SOC

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SOCs are on the front lines of their organizations’ security protocols. They are in the trenches, tasked with protecting valuable data. It’s no easy feat, it comes with a lot of responsibility, often limited resources and immense mental pressure. Horia Sibinescu, director of marketing and communications, Arcanna.ai, explores how AI and intelligent automation could help resolve the most common challenges that SOCs face.

Security operations centers (SOCs) face many challenges in a rapidly expanding threat landscape. CISOs and other security leaders often struggle to attract, find and retain staff for myriad reasons, including the ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage, alert fatigue and mundane tasks. The latter two contribute greatly to the fourth reason: burnout. 

This is where technology can play a key role in not replacing people but rather, enhancing your staff. Integrated intelligent automation is a primary technological partner for the SOC. Intelligent automation should be seen as a force multiplier that can be used to both augment humans and improve operational efficiency.

The Rising Talent Shortage

The cybersecurity skills gap persists – and hiring and retention challenges are growing. New research from ISACAOpens a new window finds that 63% of responding organizations said they had unfulfilled cybersecurity positions, up eight percentage points from 2021. According to that same report, 62% say their cybersecurity teams are understaffed and one in five say it takes more than six months to find qualified candidates for open positions. There is currently a cybersecurity skills deficit of 2.7 million peopleOpens a new window worldwide. 

Some more numbers to consider: The National Institute of Cyber Education (NICE) found that about 50% of managersOpens a new window feel that their candidates are not well qualified for the positions they are applying for. And 16% of respondents to an NIST studyOpens a new window found that, on average, it takes six months or longer to fill a new cybersecurity position. So, not only are there not enough people, but half of those need additional training.

A Triple Conundrum: Mundane Tasks, Alert Fatigue and Burnout

Roles in the SOC are under a lot of pressure. The number of alerts that analysts are grappling with is at an all-time high and continues to grow as bad actors get more sophisticated and environments expand.  SOC teams deal with an average of 10,000 alerts or more every day, previous research by Enterprise Management AssociatesOpens a new window found.

In addition, despite the rise of automation, many analysts still feel like most of their time is spent on mundane tasks. This could be for several reasons: lack of time to implement new tools, lack of experts to configure the tools properly, changing existing processes, etc. 

Both challenges directly correlate to the problem of burnout. With businesses relying heavily on IT, any form of downtime or security breach can result in lost money and negatively impact brand image. This creates extra work and stress for analysts who are already overworked. A recent Tines reportOpens a new window found that 71% of SOC analysts felt burnt out. And increased workloads can often mean no time for upskilling or learning new skills, which leaves analysts feeling like they’re stuck in a dead-end, too.  

See More: Unlocking a More Secure Cloud: An Introduction to Security as Code (SaC)

Benefits of Intelligent Automation and AI-assisted Cybersecurity

The current situation is unsustainable: leaders are struggling to find skilled employees, and the employees they do have are burning out quickly. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Intelligent automation, as mentioned above, is the use of advanced technologies such as AI to streamline decision-making and scale people’s capacity to address the workloads specific to their role. 

Intelligent automation enables existing analysts to handle workloads faster and easier. The primary capability of any AI tool should be to learn and adapt to the distinctiveness of each organization. It should be capable of assisting decision-making both in terms of subject expert knowledge and in the context of the organization. 

It can scale the analysts’ capacity to handle and address threats, freeing up time for them and reducing risk.  And by freeing up their time, they can focus on improving security posture and upskilling and other development and training initiatives.

The addition of “intelligence” to the automation of processes is key for the modern SOC. By taking into account both subject expert knowledge and organizational distinctiveness, it can assist decision-making and automate manual and repetitive tasks with improved efficiency while retaining institutional knowledge within the organization. 

The Intelligent Solution

Networks and the valuable data they hold are under attack as never before. That’s bad timing for today’s digital organizations, as they continue to struggle to find anyone with cybersecurity skills, much less the experience and qualifications they truly need to fulfill their roles. Too few people trying to cover too many workloads can lead to burnout and turnover, weakening an organization’s security posture. Intelligence automation can address each of these issues, strengthening cybersecurity, retaining knowledge and creating greater job satisfaction for some of the most highly prized and direly needed employees an organization has today.

Are you exploring integrated intelligent automation to enable your SOC? Tell us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to know!