The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee estimated that organizations around the world could experience $600 Billion worth of annual losses resulting from cyber-attacks in this current decade. Meanwhile, by the end of 2021, the total number of newly developed Windows OS-based malware is expected to grow by 91.09 million in volume. Many organizations are turning to IT automation to counteract these serious risks to their businesses and customer’s data privacy.
It is clear that the growing presence of threat actors is a viable call for concern for organizations of all sizes. Malicious hackers are using automation to steal data and compromise endpoints at alarming rates. Recent studies suggest cyberattacks are launched every 39 seconds – and arguably most companies are not yet equipped to handle the volume, precision, and sophistication of today’s increasingly automated threat landscape.
5 Ways to Beat Sophisticated Threat Actors with IT Automation
If RPA [Robotic Process Automation] can help save money on human capital, reduce fraud and processing errors…it is a strategy we must all embrace. – William Guerrero, Ithaca College
Potential cybersecurity risks can be identified and mitigated ahead of time using IT automation, which reduces the need for many time-intensive manual processes to maintain a resilient security posture.
IT automation also helps teams respond to cybersecurity threats faster. Whenever human intervention is needed to disrupt an attack chain, the targeted organization loses an edge due to the heightened challenges such as increased traffic flow, system health malfunction, and unpatched endpoints, to name just a few.
In order to effectively beat sophisticated threat actors at their own game, your IT team needs to examine the normal network infrastructure operation and the computer systems that run alongside it:
1. Update Automation and Patch Management
Considering the complexity and depth of computing platforms, patches and update installation on systems is an important but exhaustive process. Usually, the system and application packages are set to update automatically at regular intervals. However, whenever IT teams fail to flag vulnerabilities or swiftly deploy released patches for vulnerable systems, an attack opportunity widens for threat actors. Automated patch management keeps IT systems secure from threats through timely identification, testing, and application of code alteration.
2. Management of Traffic Logs
To actively detect and monitor for malicious activities on a corporate network for a prolonged period of time, an automated capability is required; manual processing of traffic logs is an extremely cumbersome task in today’s increasingly digital era.
The automation of traffic log management entails the proactive detection of ‘normal’ network traffic patterns, such as network load sequence, time-based, and location-based alerts, stored network log movements, etc. As such, automated traffic log management solutions leverage machine learning intelligence to catch suspicious network activities, including those that hide within legitimate network traffic via living-off-the-land techniques. Using IT automation, current traffic logs are compared with older logs to find matching patterns with known malicious activities. Whenever any suspicious activity is detected, firewalls and proxies are alerted to protect the network.
3. Endpoint Threat Management
Automated endpoint threat management provides proactive defense against known and unknown threats. Data and threat intelligence is collected systematically from a variety of sources and consolidated in a common threat repository. During this process, false positives are automatically filtered out, and only relevant data is analyzed to determine actual threats to an endpoint – to ensure accurate analysis, data is gathered from multiple data sources, including the cloud, for an accurate representation of the threat landscape. This entire IT automation process ensures that threat actors’ footprint is not hiding in other areas of an IT ecosystem.
4. Systems Vulnerability Management
Automated systems vulnerability scanning uses multiple vulnerability scanning tools deployed in concert for the identification of known vulnerabilities, security misconfigurations, outdated software packages, weak passwords, etc. All IT systems are scanned and monitored continuously for detection of new vulnerabilities that might appear at any time. All alerts are proactively reported to the IT security team for further investigation.
5. Penetration Testing Automation
Traditional penetration testing techniques involve a great deal of task repetition, increasing the processing and analysis time required for successful pen-testing activity. The process can be leveraged by employing automated repetitive task management and reducing the completion time to a bare minimum.
Business as usual, as it relates to corporate IT security is not an option for 2021 because it‘s not sufficient to prevent the vast majority of emerging threat actors. As a CIO/CTO, you have to constantly be on your toes to keep up with the growing sophistication of threat actors employing automation into their attack chain for precision and scalability.
Therefore, the best way to combat automation in cybercrime is to marry IT process automation with your security infrastructure to help identify, categorize, and respond to attacks in a proactive manner. Over time, the repetitive processes required to detect and respond to cyber threats can be effectively managed using IT automation, thus reducing human input and other already-scarce IT resources.
If the recent SolarWinds hack taught us anything, it is that the streamlining of critical security processes is no longer an option in today’s ruthless cyber threat landscape.
To be able to fight back against the rapid sophistication of threat actors, repetitive IT tasks and processes, such as software patching, computing environment standardization, security policy deployment, etc., must be automated to refocus valuable IT resources where they are most needed.
Interested in implementing IT Automation into your security infrastructure? Schedule an intro call with one of our experts to see how aiden can help you prevent a data breach using automated endpoint management.