The importance of automation in cybersecurity

Accepting automation in cybersecurity is a critical part of an organisation’s defence in today’s threat landscape.

The importance of automation in cybersecurity

Accepting automation in cybersecurity is a critical part of an organisation’s defence in today’s threat landscape.

Lee Stephens
Lee StephensHead of Security Advisory Services, UK

By default, most security teams are risk averse  – adopting the mentality that things simply can’t be allowed to go wrong.

Yet, too often, this desire for complete control exposes the business to other significant risks, as they neglect new solutions and face overwhelming workloads as a result. The pace at which today’s cyber criminals work means Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) need to change this old-fashioned approach – it’s time for a new mindset.

Cyber automation

Unlocking the potential of automation

Despite the increasing number of daily alerts and threats, too many organisations are still relying on manual processes and controls to manage their security measures and are ignoring the fact automation is now a vital part of modern cybersecurity. They’re failing to recognise just how much machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can transform threat monitoring through real-time issue detection and intelligently automated responses.

Offloading a degree of responsibility to machines may seem daunting, but it’s no longer something CISOs can ignore. The sheer number of cybercriminals now making the leap to automation means a shift in mindset is essential to keep up and stay protected. 

Overcoming CISO reluctance

I've identified three primary reasons behind CISOs' hesitance to embrace automation:

1. Overestimation of existing measures

Far too many organisations assume their existing cybersecurity measures are protecting them effectively from everyday threats. Research indicates that 76% of CISOs rate their organisations’ IT strategy as excellent or good at protecting against cybersecurity threats. But 84% also say their organisation has suffered data loss or a security incident in the last two years. Something’s not adding up between the CISO’s strategy perceptions and the reality of what’s happening.

2. Trust as a barrier

Trust is also a key barrier when it comes to automation because, before they can give control over automated processes, CISOs need to be sure that:

  • machines making decisions and taking control of security measures won’t make mistakes or interfere with operations
  • they can trust a third-party provider to help them adopt AI successfully 
  • other vendors involved can understand the intricacies of their organisation and cyber security.


3. Misconception of ‘all-in’ decision

Many CISOs get hung up on the idea that, if they’re going to embrace automation, they’re giving total control to AI. But it’s a myth that automation has to be implemented without human intervention. Generally, every organisation has different requirements and faces industry-specific threats, which means that:

  • automation must be adjusted to create an effective partnership between machine-assisted and human-led decision-making
  • from there, AI learns over time from the humans so it can deliver better and more intelligent decision-making
  • only then, potentially, it will reach a point where humans no longer need to be involved.

The game changer: AI in cyber security

Letting these barriers hold your organisation back is effectively giving cyber criminals an advantage.

With so many modern cyber attacks now heavily automated, enterprises need to adopt more automation to level the playing field. AI-powered automation can help identify relevant intelligence from the sea of incoming data that threatens to overwhelm the security department, as well as taking on more mundane security tasks.

This frees up staff to focus on urgent and high-priority threats – something that’s especially important considering the shortage of cyber skills affecting so many organisations. Then, when a new threat is identified, automation can implement updates and patching to protect networks faster than an attack can spread, minimising any potential impact.

AI can go further, too, predicting malicious behaviours so organisations can proactively prepare for new threats. Despite popular belief, deploying automation doesn’t require a 'rip and replace' of existing security investments.

Instead, automated solutions can be integrated with the technologies already in place, to optimise capabilities and identify gaps in defences.

Strategic integration for resilience

The sheer scale and pace of today’s cyber threats mean security teams are already pushed to their limits. So, it’s critical CISOs recognise that there are new ways to use automation to gain complete control over their organisation’s security, and that the risk of falling behind in the struggle against cyber attacks must outweigh any fear of change.

Charting the course for cyber security excellence

Bringing in a like-minded partner to manage your day-to-day security can unlock your CISO’s time and energy to look again at your cyber security strategy and to focus on giving your company an edge. Then, as their use of automation increases, organisations won’t have the burden of managing time-consuming, repetitive tasks, so they can take a more proactive stance toward tackling unpredictable threats.