Imagine this scenario: The IT department of an organization find themselves bombarded by an unending stream of cybersecurity alerts, akin to a constantly ringing warning bell. Although these alerts are crucial for identifying potential threats, they bring unintended consequences. They give rise to what experts call "alert fatigue" – a phenomenon that numbs even the sharpest cybersecurity professionals.
Consequently, response times grow longer, and important alerts slip through the cracks. This fatigue places a heavy burden on IT departments, leading to burnout among the staff.
The repercussions of this trend extend beyond the morale of the IT department. According to a recent report by IDC, it takes an average of 30 minutes for security staff to respond to each actionable alert, with an additional 32 minutes spent chasing down false leads.
To tackle this growing threat landscape, organizations have resorted to adding an increasing number of security tools while struggling to fill the vacant positions in their security operations centers.
Randy Watkins, Chief Technology Officer of Critical Start, aptly states, "This issue is so prevalent that it has earned its industry-recognized term: 'alert fatigue,' and it plays a significant role in the industry's challenges with job retention, particularly within security operations centers."
Ways to develop mature incident response: Playbooks and SOAR
Let us start by recognizing that you can not stop the flow of alerts in the cybersecurity landscape – and you would not want to, given the investments in security tech that provide these alerts.
However, you can take proactive steps to streamline your security team's alert management process. Providing them with the right tools and strategies is crucial for prioritizing and promptly addressing the most critical alerts. Here are some of them:
1.1. Creating playbooks: You can start by creating detailed playbooks for various incident types, following the IR Planning guidelines. These playbooks should provide clear instructions for handling different incident categories and their severity levels. They should also specify the roles of stakeholders and the paths for escalation to ensure timely and effective responses.
1.2. Integrating SOAR platforms: When confirmed threats arise, your organization needs predefined automated responses, ranging from isolating affected systems to countering the threat. To achieve this, enterprises need to integrate their security tools with SOAR platforms. This integration fosters collaboration, streamlines workflows, and provides a comprehensive view of security events. Additionally, threat intelligence feeds should be utilized to enrich context and enable automated responses, interactive investigations, and threat hunting activities along the cyber kill chain. These playbooks and the SOAR platform should undergo regular refinement based on insights from past incidents and feedback from stakeholders, analysts, and threat hunters.
1.3. Continuous enhancement and testing: Your organization should constantly improve and update their IR playbooks. This ongoing process ensures that your playbooks remain in sync with changes in IT infrastructure, the threat landscape, and organizational requirements. Periodic tabletop exercises validate the efficiency of playbook automation and orchestration, addressing any identified gaps or weaknesses in both the playbooks and the SOAR platform.
The power of SOAR
There are three key components to improving alert management and reducing alert fatigue. All of them are covered by SOAR:
Automation reduces alert fatigue by taking over repetitive tasks, such as sifting through multiple alerts, allowing analysts to focus on higher-order tasks. It enables analysts to identify false positives through techniques like anomaly detection, contextual analysis, whitelisting, machine learning, and feedback, allowing them to concentrate on more complex, higher-risk alerts. It also checks for unusual patterns, uses threat intel, learns from users, applies rules, and fine-tunes algorithms.
Reduced response time
SOAR can help to streamline the incident response process. By automating manual tasks and correlating data from multiple sources, these tools significantly reduce the time taken to identify, analyze, and respond to threats, thus improving the Mean Time to Response (MTTR). This alleviates alert fatigue by reducing security teams' workload, enabling quicker alert handling, and improving morale while minimizing the risk of missing vital alerts.
Powerful threat intelligence
SOAR platforms act as centralized hubs for overseeing incidents and alerts. By combining the power of real-time threat intelligence, incident response, and security automation SOAR platforms can autonomously identify and filter out false positive alerts before human intervention is necessary. This is achieved through enabling organizations to collect data from various sources, automate responses to low-level threats, and provide a comprehensive overview of an organization's security posture.This capability alone is a formidable solution to combat alert fatigue, significantly boosting overall operational efficiency.
The Aujas Cybersecurity advantage
Cybersecurity is evolving, so must our methods for containing and mitigating threats. Automation and SOAR enable organizations to effectively manage incidents, secure digital assets, and reduce alert fatigue, allowing analysts to focus on more complex and critical cybersecurity incidents.
Our incident handling through automation and orchestration, backed by years of experience in various cybersecurity verticals, equips us to navigate the complexities of cybersecurity incident handling in the digital age.
With the strategic application of MDR, automation, orchestration, and SOAR, incident handling and alert fatigue are no longer impossible challenges.