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What Is Security Automation?

LAST UPDATED: October 27, 2023

Picus Labs   By Picus Labs  •  October 27, 2023, 8 min read

Security Automation isn’t just a buzzword—it refers to integrating advanced software solutions into the heart of cybersecurity operations. By autonomously handling threat detection, analysis, and response, automation tools elevate an organization’s security posture, scaling it to tackle the vast landscape of known and emerging cyber threats. This approach goes beyond just efficiency; it’s about harnessing machine-speed reactions to counteract cyber-attacks that operate at machine speed themselves. 

In this blog, we will examine the mechanisms of security automation, explain its three pillars - SOAR, SOC, and XDR - using illustrative real-life practices, delve into the key platforms that power it, and break down its scope in the current threat environment.

What Is Security Automation?

Security automation is the process of integrating software solutions and automated tools into security operations to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of identifying, managing, and mitigating cyber threats. It's designed to perform a range of security tasks without human intervention, which significantly speeds up the response time and minimizes the risk of human errors in managing security threats. This is vital in modern cybersecurity frameworks due to the increasing volume and sophistication of cyber threats.

4 Key Reasons to Adopt Security Automation Now

Here are the four key reasons to adopt a security automation approach.

1. Efficiency and Speed

Security automation enables swift detection, investigation, and remediation of threats by automating mundane tasks. It executes predefined responses to specific triggers, drastically cutting down the reaction time to security issues, essential for minimizing potential damage.

2. Reduced Alert Fatigue

A high volume of daily alerts can overwhelm security analysts, leading to potential oversight of critical alerts. Automation filters, prioritizes, and addresses these alerts, ensuring only significant issues are escalated, thus mitigating alert fatigue and enhancing threat response accuracy.

Figure 1. Percentage of security alerts being investigated and ignored, provided by an IDC White Paper.

3. Cost-Efficiency

The escalating cyber threats can make a fully manual SOC financially draining. Security automation curtails operational costs by reducing the manual handling of alerts and incidents. Moreover, by averting or minimizing breach impacts, it can save substantial amounts in potential fines, remediation costs, and reputational damage.

4. Optimized Resource Allocation

By automating routine tasks, security personnel can redirect their focus towards strategic, complex, and value-driven activities like proactive threat hunting and advanced analysis. This not only elevates job satisfaction but also fortifies the organization's security posture through strategic advancements.

3 Pillars of Security Automation: SOAR, SIEM and XDR

In this section, we delve into the triad of security automation platforms, unveiling the synergies and unique functionalities of 

  • Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR), 
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and 
  • Extended Detection and Response (XDR). 

These platforms form a robust architecture, fostering an enhanced security posture through automation, real-time analysis, and seamless orchestration of security workflows.

1. Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR)

SOAR stands for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response. It's essentially a set of tools that automates the way we handle and respond to cyber threats. By pulling data from various security tools, SOAR gives us a clear picture of an organization's security health. This makes decision-making faster and more informed. By automating responses to common threats, SOAR allows security teams to focus on more complex issues. It also helps different security tools work together, speeding up the response time and making the overall security process more efficient.

Case Study 1: Enhancing Security Incident Response with SOAR Integration in a Banking Infrastructure

Let us examine the following, arbitrarily constructed case scenario regarding the usage of SOAR integration for security automation.


A prominent financial institution leverages a Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) solution to streamline its cybersecurity incident response workflow. This SOAR solution seamlessly interfaces with the bank's next generation firewall systems (NGFW), Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) modules, and an array of other defensive and prevention layer solutions, facilitating real-time ingestion and analysis of security alerts.

Incident Details:

On October 26, 2023, the integrated SOAR solution identified an anomalous surge in authentication attempts originating from an external IP address Immediate alerts were dispatched to the bank's dedicated cybersecurity operations center. Upon comprehensive forensics, the CSOC ascertained the nature of the threat to be a brute-force attack.

Automated SOAR Response:

  • Isolation and blacklisting of the malicious IP address (, prohibiting any inbound or outbound traffic.

  • Real-time notifications dispatched to holders of potentially compromised accounts.

  • Automated password reset protocols initiated for affected accounts, prompting users for secure password updates.


Through the adoption of SOAR-driven automations, the bank bolstered its resilience against cybersecurity threats, ensuring rapid and robust incident response.

2. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM combines the best of Security Information Management and Security Event Management. It gathers, checks, and reacts to security alerts from different sources instantly, helping spot unusual activities or threats faster.

Besides just monitoring, SIEM tools also create compliance reports. These are crucial for businesses to meet industry regulations. The insights from SIEM, both in real-time and from past data, are key for looking into security incidents or for regular compliance checks.

Case Study 2: Proactive SIEM Deployment in Retail Banking for ATM Fraud Detection

Let us examine the following, arbitrarily constructed case scenario regarding the SIEM  integration for security automation.


A renowned retail bank harnesses a cutting-edge SIEM solution to monitor its expansive ATM fleet, aiming to promptly detect and mitigate potential fraudulent activities.

Integration Points:

The SIEM is seamlessly interfaced with:

  • The bank's holistic ATM communication framework

  • Externalized fraud intelligence databases

Such a setup enables the SIEM to incessantly gather and process data points like:

  • ATM transaction metadata

  • Cash withdrawal sequences

  • ATM session authentications

  • ATM operational logs

Anomaly Detection Criteria:

The SIEM is algorithmically attuned to identify irregularities such as:

  • Consecutive failed PIN input trials

  • Rapid, successive withdrawals across distinct ATMs

  • Transactions originating from geolocated high-risk zones

  • Access attempts from IP addresses flagged in fraud databases

Incident Workflow:

On SIEM alert triggering, these concerns are auto-routed to the bank's specialized Fraud Detection Unit (FDU). Post-validation, the FDU initiates responsive measures including:

  • Immediate ATM card blacklisting

  • Account status transition to 'frozen'

  • Direct outreach to the impacted account holder for fraud advisory


By strategically deploying the SIEM for ATM network oversight, the retail bank exemplifies excellence in fraud detection and timely resolution.

3. Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

XDR is an advanced security solution that uses automation and AI to speed up response times across various tasks. It brings together different tools and data, giving a broader view of security across areas like endpoints, users, networks, and other workloads.

Think of XDR as an evolution of Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). Often called "cross-layered detection and response", XDR takes in and organizes data from different security layers. This offers a clearer picture of a company's security health, making it easier to spot, investigate, and handle threats.

Case Study 3: Multi-Vector Attack on a Global E-Commerce Platform

Let's explore a hypothetical scenario illustrating the use of XDR for enhanced security automation.


An e-commerce giant, operating across several continents, offers millions of products. To safeguard its digital infrastructure and ensure trust among its users, the company deployed an XDR platform.


One evening, the XDR system raised alarms on multiple fronts:

  • There were a high number of failed login attempts from various geographical locations.
  • Suspicious traffic spikes were observed in their backend infrastructure.
  • Several user complaints were logged about receiving phishing emails purportedly from the organization.

Using traditional security mechanisms, these alerts might have been treated in isolation.

XDR's Integrated Response:

  1. Data Correlation: The XDR platform correlated these alerts and identified a coordinated attack. By analyzing the data, it recognized patterns consistent with an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group known for large-scale data breaches.

  2. Immediate Isolation: The affected servers, especially those handling user data, were temporarily isolated to prevent data exfiltration.

  3. Threat Neutralization: Known malicious IPs involved in the login attempts were instantly blocked.

  4. User Protection: Automated emails were dispatched to users, advising them to ignore the phishing attempts and reset their passwords as a precautionary measure.

  5. Incident Reporting: The cybersecurity team was instantly alerted to begin an in-depth investigation and ensure all vulnerabilities used in this attack were patched.

Thanks to the XDR platform, what could have been a catastrophic breach was identified early and swiftly contained, underscoring the platform's capability to deal with sophisticated, multi-vector threats.

4 Security Automation Best Practices & Examples

Here are the four best practices for security automation best practices.

1. Develop a Well-defined and Comprehensive Playbook

In the realm of security automation, a playbook is paramount. It provides a structured set of procedures, sequences, and decision trees, tailored to address diverse security scenarios. A robust playbook ensures that automated responses are methodically deployed, based on the nature and severity of the threat. 

By capturing and detailing specific sequences for threat detection, analysis, and mitigation, the playbook guarantees that technology responds in a cohesive, consistent manner, reducing variability and enhancing the accuracy of automated actions. Furthermore, it ensures that every automation decision, from simple alerts to intricate remediation strategies, is made in alignment with the organization's risk tolerance and strategic objectives.

2. Leverage Detection Systems

Maximizing the use of detection systems can lessen the manual workload. 

For example, a retail company could use automated detection systems to monitor network traffic for suspicious activity, allowing for quicker identification and response to potential threats.

3. Recognize the Scope of Automation

Knowing where automation is beneficial and where human intervention is needed is crucial. 

In a healthcare setting, while automation can help monitor network security, human analysis might be necessary for assessing nuanced threats and complying with HIPAA regulations.

4. Invest Time in Preliminary Assessment

Understanding the current scenario and identifying areas for automation is fundamental. 

A manufacturing firm, for instance, might assess processes to automate monitoring of its industrial control systems, ensuring a structured rollout to enhance security without disrupting operations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are the most frequently asked questions about Security Automation.
What Is the Meaning of Security Automation?
Security Automation refers to the process of integrating advanced software tools and algorithms to automatically detect, assess, and respond to security threats without the need for human intervention. This increases the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of the security process.
What Is an Example of Security Automation?
A contemporary example of security automation is the automated threat response mechanisms deployed by advanced cloud security platforms. When these platforms detect anomalous behavior, such as irregular data access patterns or suspicious cloud resource provisioning, they can automatically take corrective actions, like adjusting access controls or shutting down potentially compromised resources, all without manual intervention. This ensures that potential breaches in cloud environments are swiftly addressed even before they escalate, safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining service continuity.
How Does Automation Help With Security?
Automation enhances security by swiftly detecting and responding to threats, reducing the window of vulnerability. It standardizes responses, ensuring consistency in addressing known threats. Automated tools can analyze vast amounts of data in real-time, identifying patterns that might be missed manually. This speeds up threat detection, allowing for immediate remediation. By relieving security teams from routine tasks, they can focus on complex threats, enhancing an organization's overall security posture. Automation thus makes cybersecurity processes more efficient and effective.
Please click here to see the references

[1] “#StopRansomware: AvosLocker Ransomware (Update),” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency CISA. Available: [Accessed: Oct. 23, 2023]

[2] “#StopRansomware: CL0P Ransomware Gang Exploits CVE-2023-34362 MOVEit Vulnerability,” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency CISA. Available: [Accessed: Oct. 23, 2023]

[3] F. Roth, “How to Write Simple but Sound Yara Rules,” Feb. 16, 2015. Available: [Accessed: Oct. 23, 2023]

[4] F. Roth, “How to Write Simple but Sound Yara Rules - Part 2 - Nextron Systems,” Oct. 17, 2015. Available: [Accessed: Oct. 23, 2023]

Table of Contents:


Understand the 4 trade-offs limiting security teams in managing their organization's threat exposure.