Combating Cyber Attacks with SOAR | Exabeam

Combating Cyber Attacks With SOAR

Published
March 15, 2021

Author
Orion Cassetto

Learn what SOAR stands for, what it can do, and why you should combine it with other security solutions like SIEM.

With the race between cyberattackers and cyber defense solutions accelerating, many organizations are struggling to adapt to the growing threat from numerous advanced  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.

What is SOAR Security?

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 automated functions to deal with threats faster and more efficiently while also reducing workloads and standardizing security incident response (IR) processes.

Each of the components of SOAR–security, orchestration, automation, and response–performs a different SOC function. These vital functions 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 investigation 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—responds to incidents and tracks their metrics and provides case management.
  • Proactive—automates 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.

In this article, you will learn:

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 life cycles. SOAR cyber security 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 they 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 incident 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 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 can 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.

SOAR Use Cases

Let’s briefly review three use cases in which SOAR security platforms can be extremely useful.

Handling Security Alerts

SOAR tools can help identify and respond to the following types of security alerts, which are detected frequently in most organizations:

  • Phishing emails—the SOAR system can scan the content of potential phishing emails, enrich it with threat intelligence, run a security playbook, and automate repetitive tasks like classifying affected users, extracting metrics, identifying false positives, and preparing for a standardized response to eradicate the threat.
  • User login failure—when a user login fails for a predetermined number of times, the SOAR system can trigger a playbook to challenge users, evaluate responses, and expire passwords of users who do not respond appropriately.
  • Unusual logins—the SOAR system can pick up suspicious VPN access attempts, check for involvement of a cloud access security broker (CASB), check source of IPs, contact the real user account, and block the connection.
  • Endpoint malware infection—the SOAR system can obtain ongoing threat data from endpoint security tools, enrich it with data from other parts of the security environment, cross referencing the files with data from the SIEM, alerting the security team, reimaging the endpoint and updating the endpoint security solution.

Managing security operations

A SOAR tool can help automate routine tasks carried out by security analysts:

  • Managing SSL certificates—checking which endpoint SSL certificates will expire soon, notify the user, check status periodically, and escalate if necessary.
  • Diagnose endpoint agent issues—check connectivity issues with an endpoint security agent, opening a ticket, restarting agents and endpoints if necessary.
  • Manage vulnerabilities—analyzing data about software vulnerabilities, adding context from CVE data, identifying the severity of vulnerabilities, and handing over prioritized issues to the security team.

Next-gen SOAR platforms and the integration with SIEM

According to Gartner, SOAR cyber security is not a standalone category. Modern SOAR solutions should be integrated with SIEM platforms to provide maximal value. 

Exbeam Security Management Platform is a hybrid of SIEM and SOAR. It is a SIEM solution based on data lake technology, which combines advanced analytics, user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), and security automation. 

Exabeam provides two SOAR components as part of its next-generation SIEM platform:

  • Exabeam Incident Responder—security case management, integration with third-party tools, security orchestration, and security playbooks for fully automated incident response.
  • Exabeam Threat Hunter—enables SOC analysts to quickly perform searches using a convenient user interface to identify patterns in historic security data, combined from multiple data sources. It automatically constructs complete incident timelines for any security incident, dramatically shortening the time required for investigation.

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