Apr 08 2024

Why Financial Services Companies Should Automate Their Cybersecurity Actions

Manually addressing every potential threat is impractical in a modern business. Here’s a better idea.

It plagues virtually every business around the world: security monitoring tools that deliver a cacophony of alerts and warnings throughout the day and night, far more than any IT security staff can manage. Like the boy trying to keep the dam from breaking by plugging each leak with his fingers — until he runs out of fingers — the sheer volume of alerts today’s security teams deal with can quickly become overwhelming.

For financial services organizations striving to defend themselves against modern threat actors, two solutions stand out as pillars: security information and event management, or SIEM; and security automation and response, or SOAR. Both serve to enhance an organization’s security posture, and each is a vital tool in helping security teams sort through the haystack of alerts to discover the needles that indicate a genuine security threat.

SIEM platforms are a security staple, and most organizations in the financial services industry already deploy one. SOAR is somewhat newer, arriving on the security scene within the past five years.

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Why Financial Services Companies Need Security Automation

We recommend that financial services organizations strongly consider deploying a SOAR solution. Every business needs a robust security posture, but financial services companies operate in an environment where data confidentiality, integrity and availability are paramount. They handle vast amounts of sensitive data, including financial transactions, personal information and intellectual property.

Consequently, these organizations are prime targets for cybercriminals seeking financial gain or disruption. In short, they simply can’t afford to get security wrong.

RELATED: Financial firms should update their incident response plans.  

They’re also highly regulated and need to both comply with security regulations and demonstrate that compliance, yet they don’t necessarily have greater resources than other businesses of similar size. For small and midsized financial services organizations, such as regional banks and credit unions, an advanced automation tool such as SOAR extends the capabilities of internal staff and partners, providing critical insight on where humans’ time and efforts can be best deployed and automating a range of tasks.

SIEM and SOAR are complementary technologies. The former is a real-time monitoring tool, delivering alerts to administrators about potential security breaches and sometimes conducting some basic automated response, such as a vulnerability scan or blocking activity. That’s fine as far as it goes, but SOAR takes this to the next level, enabling security operations teams to streamline and automate the incident response process.

A SOAR platform integrates with SIEM and other security tools to gather, correlate and analyze security data. It excels in orchestrating responsive actions, automating repetitive tasks and facilitating collaboration among security teams, enabling organizations to respond rapidly and effectively to security incidents, minimizing manual effort and human error.

READ MORE: Financial services firms can mitigate security risks.

SOAR as a Playbook Management System

Think of SOAR as a kind of playbook management system. Leveraging AI, the platform will take an action or set of actions without human direction in response to specific triggering rules or parameters. For example, if the SOAR system detects traffic coming from IP addresses known to be associated with a threat, it could blacklist those IP addresses. A SOAR platform also provides a centralized dashboard for incident management, allowing security analysts to prioritize and investigate alerts efficiently.

In general, it isn’t necessary for a security team to have a clear vision of what those triggering events should be. Experienced security solutions from providers such as CrowdStrike, Arctic Wolf, Sophos, Rapid 7 and others have developed deep security intelligence over many years, and their SOAR solutions come prebuilt with playbooks informed by that intelligence. That said, security teams can customize their platforms to take certain actions under particular circumstances.

It’s one thing to know why security automation makes sense in financial services. It’s another to know how to achieve it. If your organization hasn’t yet invested in a security automation solution, and you want to know more about next steps, start with a conversation with an experienced partner who’s familiar with the various tools currently on the market. Feel free to reach out.

This article is part of BizTech's EquITy blog series


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