With the race between cyberattackers and cyber defense solutions evolving, many organizations are struggling to adapt to the growing threat from advanced and numerous threats. Many organizations are now turning to automated solutions like SOAR to help them identify and respond to security threats. But what is SOAR? Read on to learn what SOAR stands for, what it can do, how it differs from SIEM, and why you should use them together.

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What is SOAR?

Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) is a term coined by Gartner in 2017 to describe a category of cybersecurity solutions. SOAR is designed to allow organizations to collect security threats data and alerts from multiple sources. It can automatically identify and prioritize cybersecurity risks and respond to low-level security events.

Many organizations use SOAR solutions within their security operations center (SOC) to augment other security tools like security information and event management (SIEM). SOCs can benefit from using SOAR’s automated functions to deal with threats faster and more efficiently while also reducing workloads and standardizing security incident response (IR) processes.

SOAR stands for security, orchestration, automation, and response:
Each of these components performs a different SOC function. The vital functions of SOAR include:

Orchestration—integrates different technologies and connects between security tools to improve incident response capabilities. Security orchestration helps organizations deal with complex and frequent cybersecurity incidents. SOAR enables cybersecurity and IT operations solutions to work together to provide a complete view of the IT environment of an organization.

Automation—provides automated detection and response tools to decrease the time it takes security teams to identify and deal with security incidents and reduce their workload. Computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs) can use SOAR to standardize and automate steps like status checking, decision-making workflow, audits, and enforcement actions.

Automation can provide reactive and proactive security measures:

  • Reactive—respond to incidents and track their metrics and provide case management.
  • Proactive—hunt threats and automate security tasks to help SOC analysts identify vulnerabilities and cybersecurity threats to prevent incidents.

Response—security teams can use playbooks to run automated workflows to perform many actions such as launch investigations and contain and mitigate threats. SOAR helps security analysts deal with cybersecurity incidents and improve collaborations with other teams to share incident data and apply fixes more efficiently. SOAR solutions provide dashboards that generate reports, which allow security teams to gain insight into previous incidents so they can better deal with new threats.

Capabilities and benefits of SOAR technology

Gartner mentions three main capabilities of SOAR technologies:

  • Threat and vulnerability management—supports security teams in fixing vulnerabilities across their lifecycles. SOAR provides reporting and collaboration capabilities and a formalized workflow.
  • Security IR—helps organizations plan, manage, track and coordinate how they respond to security incidents.
  • Security operations automation—supports the automation and orchestration of processes, workflows, policy execution, and reporting.

Organizations can benefit from using SOAR solutions, which can transform key security operations to help SOCs increase efficiency and reduce workloads. Key benefits to SOAR technology include:

  • Reduced manual operations—SOAR can automatically respond to low-level threats and cuts down the response time to seconds, so attackers have less system access time. The shorter the dwell time of an attack in the system, the harder it is for the incident response team to deal with critical damage and prevent the theft of valuable data.
  • Simplified platforms—SOAR vendors create pre-built security playbooks that guide users through investigation workflows. Users can rely on the sophistication of SOAR software solutions and integrate them into the security frameworks without worrying about which parts should be automated. Some SOAR programs prioritize threats automatically so it can help less-experienced analysts to choose which incidents they should address first.
  • Minimized damage from attacks—reduces the number of necessary steps that require human intervention and helps analysts investigate and respond quickly so they could start mitigating sooner. SOAR provides analysts with the most relevant information on attacks so when they are required to deal with threats, they can do it more quickly.
  • Multi-tool integration—SOCs use a wide range of security tools from various vendors that don’t always function properly together. One of the main benefits of SOAR systems for organizations is that they can provide this integration. SOAR enables security analysts to view IT tools such as asset datasets, configuration management systems, and helpdesk systems. Many SOAR solutions provide a built-in multi-tool integration solution so they can be easily integrated into the security framework.
  • Reduced costs—SOAR automatically performs many tedious and time-consuming security tasks, like dealing with false positives and low-level alerts, so it helps organizations reduce operational costs.

SOAR vs SIEM

Security information and event management (SIEM) is a category of security solutions that uses statistical correlations and other rules to provide security teams with actionable information based on events within the security system and log entries. SOCs can use this information to detect threats in real time, manage incidents response efforts, prepare audits for compliance objectives, and investigate past security incidents.

What is SOAR in relation to SIEM?
SOAR and SIEM are two security tools that are designed to provide quality of life solutions to SOC teams through automation while also increasing efficiency. SIEM provides valuable data collection and analysis solutions. However, some SIEM solutions tend to produce many alerts and increase the workload for SOC staff.

Many companies use SOAR to augment the capabilities of SIEM. SIEMs collect and store data in a useful manner which SOAR can use to automatically investigate and respond to incidents and reduce the need for manual operations. Newer generation SIEMs (3) leverage automation and deep learning offering a comprehensive set of features and capabilities.

Third generation SIEM solutions, like Exabeam, include user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) and SOAR. By integrating UEBA and SOAR capabilities, they are able to proactively warn and react to complex security events and perform automated behavioral profiling while also automatically interacting with IT and security systems to mitigate incidents.

Summary

Security orchestration, automation, and response, along with security information and event management are essential components of a modern cybersecurity solution that should be incorporated and practiced in any SOC. Together, they enable the SOC to coordinate its operations and save time, responding automatically to security incidents to reduce the dwell time of an attack. This brings SOAR into a position in a SOC similar to that of SIEM in terms of importance. To fully stay on top of the threat, organizations should incorporate both a SIEM and SOAR solution into a broader cybersecurity strategy.

Further reading

Director, Product Marketing

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