Security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) is a collection of software programs developed to bolster an organization’s cybersecurity posture. A SOAR platform enables a security analyst team to monitor security data from a variety of sources, including security information and management systems and threat intelligence platforms.
Your security team can increase efficiency and response time by using a SOAR platform. It collects threat information, automates routine responses and triages more complex threats, minimizing the need for human intervention.
What Is the Goal of SOAR?
As coined by Gartner, the term SOAR encapsulates three software capabilities: threat and vulnerability management, security incident response, and security operations automation. The overall goal of a SOAR platform is to collect threat-related data and automate threat responses.
A SOAR solution uses both manual human intervention as well as machine learning technology to analyze incoming security data and prioritize incident response actions.
The first component of SOAR is security orchestration, which enables security tools to work together and communicate to streamline the security process. Compiling this data in one spot allows for a centralized security response.
The second component, automation, involves completing tasks without human intervention. The final component, response, allows your security team to neutralize a threat, using either an automated response or human intervention.
What Are the Key Features of SOAR?
SOAR solutions work by prioritizing and standardizing incident response activities so that security teams can collaborate on investigating and managing incidents. Workflows that can be handled through automation go through standardized response processes defined in playbooks.
SOAR platforms vary depending on vendor, but all of them should include these key features:
- Orchestration: A SOAR solution can facilitate the connection between security and productivity tools, such as firewalls and intrusion detection tools.
- Automation: A SOAR solution can automate standard cybersecurity workflows, such as the identification of security alerts and possible intrusions.
- Response: A SOAR platform can work with both automated and manual processes to support a timely response to security threats.
- Integration: A SOAR platform can work with a variety of complementary security products to support the organization’s overall security posture.
Why Use SOAR Tools?
Security teams routinely encounter a large volume of threats, such as malware and phishing. Lou Charlier, the deputy CIO at the U.S. Department of Labor, told FedTech that they routinely block 77 million emails per month.
Cybersecurity automation is key to managing this steady stream of threats. Machine learning platforms can improve incident response by learning from historical data and acting independently so that human resources can handle tasks that can’t be automated.
SOAR tools can also improve incident response by anticipating threats before they happen. With an increasing number of smart devices on a network, the number of entry points for hackers increases as well.
Institutions like cyber-resilient banks use SOAR systems to assimilate data from these separate devices and respond quickly to potential security threats before exploits can happen.
When to Use SOAR Tools
Before considering a SOAR solution, it’s important to consider your organization’s overall security posture. An organization should first have robust security operations with standardized playbooks and a library of response workflows.
When your security operations are fully developed, your focus can move to automating your established security processes using an advanced security tool like SOAR.
What Is the Relationship Between SOAR and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)?
Security information and event management (SIEM) software collects log data from an organization and then uses the log data to identify, categorize and analyze incidents and events.
SIEM software has two main goals:
- Report on security incidents and events. The software can provide reports with event data, such as failed logins and malware activity.
- Send alerts about potential security issues. The software can use set parameters to determine whether an event is a potential security issue.
SOAR vs. SIEM
SOAR and SIEM solutions have different roles in your security operations. The sole purpose of a SIEM software solution is to collect and send alerts to security personnel to investigate.
The SOAR tool uses data on security issues to automate the response. SOAR also uses artificial intelligence to predict and respond to similar future threats.
SOAR With SIEM
Security personnel often use both a SOAR tool with a SIEM tool. The two platforms are complementary and can work together for your overall security operations.
The relationship between them is like an assistant to a manager. The SIEM solution collects and correlates logs to identify the ones that qualify as an alert. It’s designed with log repository and analysis capabilities, which are not built into SOAR platforms.
When you use a SOAR platform with a SIEM platform, the SOAR can receive data from the SIEM and then take the lead on resolutions. The SOAR serves as a central location for security teams to gather context and act on alerts.
Without a SOAR, security teams would need to use a variety of interfaces outside of a SIEM. With SOAR and SIEM together, security teams can work efficiently by relying on the platforms together to show them which alerts need further investigation and resolution.
SOAR With Other Products
Just like security teams can benefit from using a SIEM with a SOAR, other security products can build on the capabilities of your SOAR solution. For example, consider using a dedicated threat intelligence platform to enhance the threat investigation capabilities of a SOAR solution.
A threat intelligence platform is a solution that collects and processes threat data from multiple sources. It provides security teams with detailed information about threats like known malware. The SOAR platform can use the information from the threat intelligence platform to guide the strategy and resolution needed against critical threats.
What Are SOAR’s Unique Capabilities?
In summary, a SOAR platform has four unique capabilities:
- Playbooks and automation: SOAR helps security teams use collected data to streamline operations through security automation and the use of playbooks.
- Threat prioritization: SOAR helps security teams prioritize and group alerts for more efficient threat detection and investigation.
- Reporting and analysis: SOAR platforms can generate reports to help security teams identify trends in their organization.
- Security dashboard: SOAR platforms can serve as a central dashboard to help security teams monitor and respond to alerts in a collaborative way.