All you need to know about SOAR: Is it worth implementing one?

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SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) is a system that automates and streamlines security incident response processes. It enables security teams to gather and evaluate information from various sources, prioritize and triage incidents, and take suitable actions. SOAR can help organizations improve incident response times, reduce human error, and increase efficiency.

This allows security teams to focus more on essential tasks requiring human intervention instead of manual and repetitive actions. Unlike other security tools, SOAR security instantly protects operations in the face of a threat.


Unfolding SOAR Security

The main components of SOAR include: 

1. Orchestration Security

To speed up incident reaction times and lower the possibility of human mistakes, this component coordinates the operations of several security tools and systems.

Additionally, teams are informed of any security breach that needs their attention. Basically, orchestration security is:

  • Integrating with multiple security tools: SOAR can integrate with a wide range of security tools and systems, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, SIEM, endpoint protection, and vulnerability scanners—allowing security teams to collect and analyse data from multiple sources.
  • Automating actions across multiple systems: SOAR can automatically take actions across various systems, such as isolating infected machines, quarantining suspicious files, or blocking malicious IP addresses.
  • Coordinating incident response activities: SOAR can coordinate incident response activities across multiple teams and systems, ensuring that the right people and tools are involved in the incident response process.


2. Automation Security

The automation component of SOAR refers to the system’s ability to automate repetitive tasks involved in incident response and other security actions. Automation in SOAR can include:

  • Data collection: SOAR can automatically extract data from multiple sources, such as network devices, servers, and applications, to help security teams rapidly identify and respond to incidents.
  • Analysis: SOAR can automatically analyse data to identify and triage incidents, reducing the time it takes for security teams to respond to incidents
  • Response: SOAR can automatically take actions based on predefined playbooks or incident response procedures, such as isolating infected machines or quarantining suspicious files.


3. Response Security

This component includes the initial response to an incident and the ongoing management of the incident. It consists of the ability to triage incidents, take appropriate actions, and document incident response activities.

The response component of SOAR typically includes the following capabilities:

  • Triage: Identifying the severity of an incident and determining the appropriate level of response.
  • Action: Actioning after incidents in terms of isolating affected systems, shutting down malicious processes, or quarantining files.
  • Playbooks: Implementing a playbook to automate incident response procedures and reduce the time it takes to contain and resolve incidents.


Breaking Down the Confusion Between SIEM and SOAR

SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) and SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) are both security technologies, but they serve different purposes.

SIEM and SOAR can complement each other. Organizations can use SIEM to detect and alert security incidents. Meanwhile, SOAR can automate the incident response process. 

A SIEM platform can feed into a SOAR platform, where the data is analysed and prioritized, and actions are taken based on predefined playbooks. SIEM mainly collects and analyses log data from various digital assets in one place and generates alerts accordingly, whereas SOAR is focused on automating and streamlining incident response processes. SIEM is primarily used for detection and alerts, while SOAR is mainly used for incident response management. By combining the two solutions, organizations can maximize their security posture and ensure they are prepared to respond to any security threats or incidents.


Benefits and Drawbacks of a SOAR Solution

Using SOAR cyber security benefits your organization in several ways.

1. Automation: SOAR automates many of the tasks involved in incident response, such as data collection, analysis, and prioritization. This can save time and reduce the risk of human error.

2. Improved incident response times: SOAR allows security teams to quickly collect and analyse data from various sources, triage incidents, and take appropriate actions. This can help reduce the mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to respond (MTTR).

3. Better incident visibility: SOAR provides a centralized view of all incidents, allowing security teams to better understand the scope and impact of security incidents.


When it comes to drawbacks to SOAR, here are some of the main things you need to keep in mind: 

  • Implementation costs: SOAR solutions can be expensive to implement and maintain, especially for organizations with limited resources.
  • Dependence on technology: SOAR automates incident response processes, but it requires a solid infrastructure and a properly trained team to operate it; if not, it may increase the complexity of the incident response process.
  • Limited flexibility: SOAR solutions may only be able to handle some types of incidents or adapt to unique organizational requirements. 


Do I Need One?

It is crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of SOAR in the context of an organization's specific security needs and resources before deciding whether or not to implement a SOAR solution. Similarly, determining whether you need one depends on your organization's specific needs and resources. SOAR can be a valuable tool for managing and responding to incidents more effectively for organizations with a high volume of security incidents and limited resources. However, SOAR may provide little additional value if an organization already has a well-established incident response process and enough resources to manage incidents manually.

On the flip side, XDR (Extended Detection and Response) is a security technology that can be an alternative to SOAR in some respects. XDR and SOAR are designed to automate and streamline incident response processes, but they approach this differently.

In some cases, XDR can be an alternative to SOAR as it provides a more comprehensive view of an organization's security posture. However, it’s worth noting that both technologies have their own benefits and drawbacks, and the choice between them will depend on the organization’s present needs.


The Takeaway

SOAR solution is designed to provide a robust security posture for organizations. This high level of automation, integration, and incident response capabilities makes it an effective security tool for security operations and sophisticated cyber attacks. Therefore, before investing in SOAR solutions, ensure you have clearly defined your use cases, have a reliable security culture and set clear expectations. Ultimately, whether or not you invest in one depends on your security goals and the problems you want to solve.