Security Automation: Tips on How to Do More with Less

By May 20, 2022Automation

Automation at its core is about combining the manual with mechanics. Even before the invention of the computer, humans have automated the production processes with external tools. When the wheel was invented, humans were able to move materials from one place to another at a quicker pace. Similarly, the shovel helped develop farming and build communities. 

Today, automation is typically thought of as a technological tool that simplifies certain processes. In a single click, automation updates our personal devices and instantly corrects misspelled words.

With cyberattacks on the rise, many organizations choose to use automation platforms to streamline their audit, which ultimately speeds up the engagement process and reduces costs, even when working closely with an auditor. 

Barbara Donatien, senior consultant for BARR’s Cyber Risk Advisory, shares a few tips for moving toward security automation. 

Why Security Automation? 

“Automation is a big time and cost savings benefit,” said Donatien. “These tools help make business quicker, ensuring faster response rates and more hands-on consulting.”

An IBM study shows that organizations with fully deployed security AI and automation experienced breach costs of $2.90 million, compared to $6.71 million at organizations without security AI and automation. That’s an 80% difference. 

At BARR, we believe in being future ready. And while compliance platforms may take away elements of the human touch, ultimately, security automation allows consultants to keep up with changing technology and focus on what they do best—providing clients with support and knowledge for security best practices. 

Donatien said, “We evolve with our clients as new issues develop and aim to be the voice of reason in every encounter. With automation platforms, we can complete our reports faster and bring more value to your engagement process.” 

Which Security Process Can Be Automated?

Without security automation, there is a lot of manual testing for different controls. This testing takes the majority of time at the beginning of the audit during what’s called a readiness assessment

Through automated control testing, bots flag issues for a consultant to remediate, rather than your organization going through an often lengthy process of interviews and gathering materials for the engagement team. 

Beyond the readiness assessment, there are many processes that a technological compliance platform can automate. Here are a few commonly-automated security procedures:

  • System updates: Restore or change certain software through an automated push on your personal or work device. 
  • System hardening: Configure your server, application, and network devices automatically to reduce security risks and produce reports at a much faster rate. 
  • Security scorecards: Through automation, get your platform to ingest data to show trends over time to see if your security program is on or off track so that you can take action more timely.

The type of automation you use also depends on the industry. For example, the medical field obtains a great deal of personal information under HIPAA laws. A healthcare-related automation platform can provide fast, up-to-date, and secure data for organizations as they continuously care for new patients. 

What Automation Tool is Right for My Organization?

Now that you know the why and how of security automation, you might be wondering where to start. Learn more about choosing the right tool for your organization through a few simple suggestions.  

Do your research.

There are currently many options on the market for automation platforms. Taking the first step often means conducting a search on individual platforms. Donatien further emphasized the importance of exploring your options while shopping for an automation platform. 

“Always research first! Look at reviews for different automation tools, and scope out the difference in platforms. Putting in the time to research what each company offers will help you get what you need and the best tool for you and your clients.” 

Scope out what you don’t need.

Along with studying up on your options, it’s important to figure out what you don’t need. Automation platforms differ from industry to industry, and there are a great deal of options out there. By minimizing what tools don’t fit your needs first, you can narrow your scope to what will benefit your organization the most.

Get buy-in from senior management.

Security is often a top-down process. When organizations have the green light for security automation from leadership, those processes and best practices often trickle down to the rest of the team. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. 

Have a manual plan in place.

While automation has many benefits, it’s important to have backup. As we’ve seen in the past few years, unexpected events like COVID or natural disasters can occur, making your data more vulnerable. No matter what platform you end up choosing, consider maintaining a manual plan as a backup to the backup—something to ensure your processes are always in place.

Still questioning what automation strategy is right for you? BARR partners with top compliance automation platforms to provide a streamlined process from start to finish. We can connect you with our leading partners, allowing you to select the platform best suited for your organization. 

Interested in learning more about choosing an automation platform? Speak with a BARR specialist today.

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