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Why Do MSSPs Need Automation?

Posted on: July 19, 2021

The continuous evolution of threats makes manual tracking and blocking of cyberattacks by managed security service providers (MSSPs) like herding cats. Without the essential security resources, it’s difficult for them to respond to threats. Besides, they struggle to manage their customers’ networks. Another challenge for many MSSPs is deploying security appliances in remote locations, which is often costly and resource-intensive. From threat detection to security deployments, MSSPs need automated capabilities in their security operations to not only keep pace with the growing complexity and volume of threats but to also meet their customers’ changing needs.

The Need for Automation

The rising costs of technology adoption and the deficiency of skilled staff have made more and more organizations partner with MSSPs for managing their threat detection and response activities. Nevertheless, the current framework of managed security services fails to meet the requirements of the evolving threat landscape. This is where automation comes to the rescue of MSSPs.

Automation allows MSSPs to accelerate scalable and integrated management of their customers’ security operations. This enables them to work in an integrated manner by combining threat investigation, triaging, and client alerting via an efficient, automated process. Modern-day solutions are powered with advanced automation capabilities and multi-delivery alerting mechanisms that notify and alert on threats in real-time.

By leveraging automation, MSSPs can modularize their solutions across different clientele. They can deploy separate, integrated modules for incident response as well as orchestration. This does not require them to have a complete orchestration layer installed for every client. Instead, they can curtail high operational costs by installing a lightweight, cost-effective orchestration gateway as per customer requirements. Such automated solutions perfectly meet the client-centric security needs of any MSSP.

How Automation Benefits MSSPs?


Automated Threat Detection Workflow

Automation allows MSSPs to move beyond just managed detection and share role, location, and sector-based security alerts with their clients through multiple delivery channels. They can leverage a threat intelligence platform (TIP) as an interactive channel to disseminate incidents to clients, enabling seamless bi-directional communication. With an advanced TIP, MSSPs can automate their entire threat detection workflow. If their threat intelligence tool is layered with an orchestration gateway, they can easily orchestrate the threat data collection from their in-house SIEM and ITSM platforms. Moreover, using this orchestration layer, MSSPs can connect with a security orchestration, automation, and threat response (SOAR) platform to deliver automated alert triaging at machine speeds. This will eliminate the manual intervention and reduce the overall costs for MSSPs. 

In a nutshell, automation lets MSSPs manage detection services, share alerts with clients in real-time, acknowledge alerts and assign actions, and share early-warning threat levels with clients. Furthermore, MSSPs can enrich threat intelligence from trusted sources, enable clients to share advisories/threat intelligence with them, encourage discussion-driven collaboration between clients, and build threat data knowledge sharing between their clients.

Direct Action Taking Capabilities

Often MSSPs struggle to orchestrate the security tools deployed in their client environment. Automation makes this possible through an orchestration layer deployed in the MSSP environment. This empowers MSSPs to take direct response action in their environment while separately receiving alerts for their clients. By hosting an advanced SOAR platform in their environment, MSSPs can move beyond the basic managed detection services and provide direct action-taking capabilities in the client’s security tools. 

For MSSPs, a SOAR platform offers improved incident investigation, triaging, and workflow management capabilities. With such a platform, MSSPs can streamline post-detection and incident triaging, data enhancement, correlation, and enrichment processes. In addition, MSSPs can use various key metrics within the SOAR platform such as average incident cost, average cost per analyst, cost per incident type, and much more to measure the incident costs of their clients. Using the automation and orchestration capabilities of the orchestration layer, MSSPs can take direct actions in IDS/IPS, firewalls, EDR, and other security platforms installed in their client’s environment to proactively block threats. 

Overall, MSSPs can automate incident investigation, triaging, and response, minimize client incident costs through effective tracking and metrics, take necessary actions directly within the client’s environment, and reduce response times.

Threat Data Orchestration

Besides security automation, threat response, and threat intelligence platforms being deployed within an MSSP’s environment, an additional lightweight orchestration layer can be deployed in every client’s environment for rapid and easier orchestration of threat data from on-premise security tools. The lightweight orchestration layer can smoothen the orchestration of threat data to an MSSP’s environment for managing detection, notification, investigation, and response tasks. The orchestration layer in every client’s deployment environment makes incident triaging, data correlation and automated actioning precise and relevant to every client. 

Substantially, MSSPs can foster collaboration through cyber fusion, connect-the-dots between security threats, deploy a dedicated automation layer within the client’s environment, and enable cross-environment automation without exposing on-premise networks.

Conclusion

The increase in different types of security tools and technologies deployed in client environments has made it difficult for MSSPs to optimize their services. An inability to automate the threat lifecycle process makes it challenging for MSSPs to address the voluminous data generated from disparate security tools. To tackle these challenges, MSSPs need to embrace automation to effectively integrate with client’s tools, automate threat data enrichment, and offer extensive investigation and response capabilities. 

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