What is a SOAR Playbook?

Table of Contents

SOAR Workflow Versus Playbook

Why are SOAR Playbooks Needed?

SOAR Playbook Use Cases

Benefits of SOAR Playbooks

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What is a SOAR Playbook?

  • Security Orchestration Automation and Response

Posted on: September 24, 2020

What is a SOAR Playbook?
Security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) solutions help teams to enhance their security posture and develop efficiency without overlooking critical security and IT processes. This is achieved with the help of playbooks, which are a built-in capability of SOAR solutions that carry out various tasks and workflows based on rules, triggers, and events. Integrating SOAR into an organization’s security operations center (SOC) can boost the overall security efficiency and effectiveness by automating tasks, coordinating alerts from multiple security devices, and providing playbooks for incident response. SOAR solutions utilize varied playbooks to automate responses to different kinds of threats without any manual intervention. These playbooks ensure that the security processes are uniformly executed throughout a company’s SOC.

SOAR Workflow Versus Playbook

While SOAR workflow is a collection of tasks in a playbook, sets of workflows are known as playbooks that allow SOAR platforms to automatically take action when an incident occurs. Using SOAR playbooks, security teams can handle alerts, create automated responses for different incident types, and quickly resolve issues, more effectively and consistently. With SOAR playbooks, security teams can build workflows that require minimal to no human intervention. These playbooks also facilitate the automated incident investigation, threat intelligence enrichment, incident actioning such as blocking of malicious indicators of compromise (IOCs), and automated threat data dissemination to security tools such as SIEMs, firewalls, threat intelligence platforms (TIPs), incident response platforms, and others. 

Why are SOAR Playbooks Needed?

SOAR playbooks enable security teams to expedite and streamline time-consuming processes. Equipped with capabilities to integrate security tools and establish seamless customizable workflows, these playbooks allow security teams to automate mundane and repetitive tasks while freeing human analysts for more important tasks dependent on human intelligence and decision making. Nowadays, modern security playbooks come with “holdable” features allowing them to integrate human decision making with automation for highly critical security situations. With considerable productivity gains and time savings across overall security operations, security teams can move from overwhelmed to functioning at maximum efficiency in no time. 

SOAR Playbook Use Cases

Threat Intelligence Automation

Threat intelligence enrichment is an important aspect of any incident or threat investigation process. This enrichment process eliminates false positives and collects actionable intelligence for threat response and other security operations. SOAR playbooks automatically ingest and normalize indicators of compromise (IOCs) from external and internal intelligence sources and enrich the collected IOCs. Following the enrichment process, the playbooks can automatically score the intel and prioritize the further response steps. 

Automated Incident Response

With advanced threat contextualization, analysis, and SOAR playbooks, security teams can have intel-driven responses to all security threats and incidents. SOAR playbooks allow security teams to leverage the power of automation to detect, analyze, enrich, and respond to threats at machine speed. SOAR playbooks can also be used to block threat indicators (IOCs) on Firewall, EDR, SIEM, and other tools.

Vulnerability Management

SOAR playbooks enable security teams to instantaneously respond to vulnerabilities by automatically applying or scheduling patches. SOAR playbooks can also be used to ensure that security teams stay informed about all the current vulnerabilities and that they successfully evaluate the potential risk of every vulnerability in order to take appropriate risk mitigation measures. Besides providing information to the teams, SOAR playbooks can be employed to query a database of vulnerabilities, active directories for asset information, or EDR tools for events to collect additional information on vulnerabilities. 

Improved Threat Hunting

With new vulnerabilities and attacks emerging constantly, threat hunting is becoming not only a challenge but a priority. Using SOAR playbooks, security teams can automate threat hunting processes to identify suspicious domains, malware, and other indicators, accelerating the hunting process and freeing themselves to tackle critical challenges. With the help of SOAR playbooks, security teams can move beyond alert fatigue, responding to incidents before the moment of impact.

Automated Patching and Remediation

From notifications to remediations of threats, vulnerability management processes can be orchestrated by integrating SOAR playbooks into a company’s existing solutions. The playbooks automate actions to scan, discover patches, validate remediation, and more, addressing critical issues.  

Phishing Email Investigations

Phishing has been one of the major attack vectors for data breaches. With the phishing incident response playbook, security teams don’t need to manually investigate every URL, attachment, or dubious request for sensitive information. A phishing incident response playbook allows security teams to focus on alleviating malicious content and training employees on phishing best practices. 
To quickly respond to phishing attacks, security teams can employ automated phishing incident response playbooks. The automated phishing incident response playbooks standardize the response process from detection to blocking of the malicious indicators from where attacks are sourced.

Malware Containment 

With the increasing risk of ransomware, spyware, viruses, and more, security teams are grappling with a plethora of malicious programs. SOAR playbooks can automatically investigate and contain malware before they spread and damage an organization’s network.

Employee Provisioning and Deprovisioning 

Every company should be able to quickly and effectively manage user permissions in order to respond to a wide range of security threats. However, it is a critical task and most organizations can’t keep up. From provisioning and deprovisioning users to responding to incidents, SOAR playbooks can put an end to the burden of manually handling user accounts in diverse use cases.

Ease of Communication 

When alerts are received, SOAR playbooks trigger workflows, issuing help desk tickets, initiating investigation and enrichment tasks, and so on. The playbooks can be integrated with other workflow management solutions to establish seamless communication between security, development, and IT teams. Security teams can access central communication hubs to improve visibility and efficiently coordinate processes. 

Benefits of SOAR Playbooks

Standardized Processes

SOAR solutions fill in for security analysts and relieve them of monotonous tasks, and include these tasks in an overall process of handling any incident. A good SOAR solution incorporates these tasks into playbooks that outlay the step-by-step incident response.


Streamlined Operations

Every aspect of SOAR playbooks contributes to simplify security operations. While security orchestration aggregates data influx from multiple sources, security automation controls low-priority alerts and incidents with the help of automated playbooks. 

Technology and Tools Integration

A SOAR playbook can be integrated into products across various security technologies such as cloud security, forensics, and malware analysis, vulnerability and risk management, data enrichment, threat intelligence, incident response, and endpoint security among others. The integration of these technologies into a SOAR solution can be seamless. 

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