Top 5 Things Keeping CIOs Up at Night (and How IT Automation Can Help)

Top 5 Things Keeping CIOs Up at Night (and How IT Automation Can Help)By its very nature, the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) is one of high stress and constant change. With technology evolving and advancing almost daily, and the idea that all employees are expendable, CIOs have a lot on their plates. Of the many topics that keep these multiple-hat-wearers up at night, here are 5 that cause the most headaches. More importantly, here is how IT automation can help solve these problems and put out some of the many fires CIOs have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Managing Legacy Systems

With so many changes and advancements in technologies and tools available to IT professionals, it’s no surprise that many CIOs find themselves struggling to decide whether to stick with their legacy systems or change out to something newer. Of course, doing so comes at a hefty price tag and takes a great deal of time and resources. Therein lies the dilemma. IT automation can provide the best of both worlds, offering seamless integration with new, more innovative technologies that both provide new and more advanced features and also support the legacy system that is already in place. IT automation is also much more cost effective and easier than completely eliminating the old system in favor of a newer one and you’ll end up with the same results in the end.

Risk and Regulation

Not only is technology changing all the time, but so are the rules and regulations governing compliance. Keeping up with these changes, and still accounting for those that are already in place can seem like a full time job in and of itself. IT automation provides the ability to stay in compliance in a much more hands-off way, allowing technology to do the heavy lifting in keeping track of incidents and providing instantly accessible audit trails. Essentially, automation takes the menial work and worry out of risk and regulation, and lets the CIO focus on other business critical functions.

Cost vs. Quality

One of the biggest jobs that a CIO has is selling the tools and technology recommendations to the “powers that be”. Upper management wants to see quality and benefit, but not if it’s going to break the bank. This balancing of cost versus quality is enough to keep even the most frugal of CIOs up at night. Not anymore! The right ITPA product can provide all of the benefits you are looking for, from improving efficiency to streamlining operations across the organization to an increase in customer satisfaction – all at a price that will be attractive to the decision makers. Basically, IT automation allows you to do more with less, which is a win-win for a stressed out chief of information.


For decades, small to mid-sized businesses were quite often forced to turn to managed service providers (MSPs) to handle many of their daily IT functions due to lack of funds and/or resources. Outsourcing is an area of frustration to many CIOs because it presents a whole new set of problems, from lack of consistency to increased risk. Now, with ITPA, organizations of any size are able to house their own IT department in its entirety, eliminating the need to outsource. By keeping these functions in-house, the benefits are many, including increased security, cost savings, more flexibility and better control.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

In a day and age when just about everyone owns a smartphone, tablet or some type of mobile device, CIOs, along with other management professionals, continue to struggle with the pros and cons of allowing these devices into the workplace. The fact is, people want to feel empowered, and with IT automation, businesses can provide their employees with that type of empowerment right on their mobile devices. By implementing a number of self-service options and opening the doors to IT operations in the cloud, management can take a step back and worry a little less, while employee satisfaction will increase. Again, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Are you a Chief Information Officer that is struggling with many of the things mentioned here? Would like to see for yourself how automation can alleviate many of your day to day headaches and allow you to focus on more important business matters?

Don’t wait a moment longer! Start your free trial of Ayehu automation and orchestration platform today!


The Role of Robotic Process Automation in Big Data Analytics

Without a doubt, we are living in an age when information is always available at our fingertips. Sometimes it seems as though we are practically drowning in the data that’s available to us. In fact, according to IBM, there are some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every single day, and an estimated 90% of all the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone. And while much of this “Big Data” may seem irrelevant to you, organizations around the world are taking it very seriously. So much so that many are now employing the use of robotic process automation to help harness, analyze and leverage it.

The Role of Robotic Process Automation in Big Data AnalyticsWhat’s the connection? Well, for starters, using robots to automate business processes can simultaneously result in the retrieval of all kinds of information about how those particular processes are carried out. In this sense, robotic process automation is much more informative than even the best human analyst could ever be. In addition to extracting data, robots can also record everything and pull it together to become much more useful to key decision makers, helping to discover bottlenecks and other problems and identify opportunities where processes could be better optimized.

Data analytics can transform an astronomical amount of information into patterns that are logical and easy to understand. In fact, it’s pretty commonplace for advanced analytics to be built right into many of the software products that are on the market today (Google Analytics, anyone?). Robotic process automation solutions are similar in that they are capable of gathering data and reporting analytics for any given time duration.

You can use RPA to gain insight into any of the following (just as a few examples):

  • Total number of completed transactions
  • Average time each transaction (or workflow) takes
  • Number of business and/or application exceptions generated
  • Estimated time until task/process/workflow completion

Ultimately for Big Data to be useful, it must be properly vetted, thoroughly analyzed and appropriately organized into something that makes sense to someone who doesn’t necessarily have a background in advanced analytics. Delivering this valuable end result is another key benefit that robotic process automation has to offer. So now, not only can robotic process automation help create a more efficient, productive work environment, but it can also help identify problems and opportunities for improvement.

Could your business benefit from using robotic process automation, for Big Data or any of the countless other advantages it affords? Why not find out today for free? Download your own copy of Ayehu automation platform and start experiencing for yourself how powerful the right RPA solution can truly be.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

5 More Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017 – Part 2

5 More Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017 – Part 2Yesterday we shared five of our predictions for how we believe cybersecurity will play out over the next 12 months. Today we’re putting together a handful more that we feel deserve honorable mention. Planning ahead is a huge part of keeping your organization protected from cyber threats and potential breaches. By having an idea what to expect, you can better strategize your defense so that you’re ready to take on anything that comes your way. With that said, here are five more cybersecurity predictions for 2017.

  1. Open source vulnerabilities. Over the past decade or more, open source has become a much more widely used development tool, even being embraced by such big names as Google and Facebook. But as this adoption continues to grow, we can expect the threat of hackers to also increase, as these criminals have discovered that applications are a potential point of entry for many organizations’ networks. Companies – especially those embracing the IoT – must do a better job of managing and keeping code secure and staying up to date on all patches. Otherwise, they will likely be targeted in 2017.
  2. Over-trust in insurance. Despite spending a ton of money and investing endless time and resources into fortifying cybersecurity defenses, many companies continue to experience breaches. As such, there has been a marked shift toward purchasing insurance in an attempt to mitigate potential damages. It should be known, however, that while many insurers will certainly issue policies, they won’t necessarily be dishing out money for claims very easily. Some will cut back or eliminate their cyber liability coverage altogether. The best way to limit damages from cyber-attacks is to invest in technology that will improve detection and incident response/remediation.
  3. Threats increase in volume and complexity. With the rise of advanced persistent threats (APTs), it’s hard for some to fathom how these risks could possibly increase, but all indications are that this will, indeed, be the case over the coming months. Even small businesses won’t be safe against the onslaught of incoming cyber-attacks. To prevent potential breaches, companies must employ advanced cybersecurity technology, such as automation, that can effectively match what the hackers are using and provide round-the-clock protection without the need for human intervention.
  4. Ransomware continues to grow. In 2016, the world saw a massive increase in viruses dubbed ransomware, which is basically a malware that infiltrates and locks up critical files, applications and systems unless and until the victim pays a “ransom.” Unfortunately, experts are predicting that these threats will only continue to grow and get worse in the New Year. The best way to defend against these inevitable attacks is to employ the use of cybersecurity playbooks, which automatically pinpoint, isolate and eradicate the problem. And, of course, always backing up critical data is also strongly recommended.
  5. Cybersecurity will become a competitive advantage. More widespread adoption of cybersecurity technology and best practices will be driven by the fact that organizations of every size and industry can no longer ignore the impact and likelihood of cyber-attacks. Likewise, consumers and business leaders also recognize the critical importance of data security when choosing B2C and B2B commerce relationships. Those that are forward-thinking and make cybersecurity a top priority will ultimately be the ones that emerge victorious over others in their respective marketplaces. In other words, 2017 will be a starting point in which data protection will become a competitive selling point.

Are you doing enough to protect your organization against these and other potential security threats? Download your free 30 day trial of the Ayehu security automation and orchestration platform and fortify your defense before it’s too late.

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

5 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017 – Part 1

5 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017 – Part 1It’s virtually impossible to accurately predict everything that can and probably will happen in the realm of cybersecurity over the next year. Today’s hackers are a whole new breed. They are constantly scheming, plotting, looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit and improving their tactics to achieve their desired results. But while these sophisticated criminals will certainly give security experts a run for their money, there are a few things we believe we can expect to occur over the next six to twelve months. In the first of a two part series, here are five cybersecurity predictions to keep in mind as we head into 2017.

  1. IoT security takes a front row seat. As more and more organizations and individuals alike are adopting smart, connected technology, more doors will be opened for potential security breaches. That means everything from consumer devices, like smart watches, to the plethora of intuitive devices being used throughout offices across the globe will become even more of a focal point for hackers in 2017. Cybersecurity pros will need to pay close attention to keeping these ports of entry safeguarded.
  2. A move to greater cloud adoption. In years past, organizations that were most vulnerable to cyber-attacks, such as those in the financial industry, have been leery about adopting cloud technology. But as newer, stronger and more enhanced compliance, regulations and security features have been rolled out, more of these institutions and companies will begin making the shift. Additionally, more organizations will begin allowing the increased use of connected devices within their networks in conjunction with cloud solutions. As such, a renewed focus on developing and implementing stronger cybersecurity methods to address the increase in vulnerabilities will be equally important.
  3. Greater government involvement. In the US as well as other major countries around the world, it’s become abundantly clear that the topic of cybersecurity isn’t just about corporate network breaches and consumer data protection. In the wake of the fact that cyber criminals are now leveraging the internet to further their own political or social agendas (think power grid outages and water system interferences). As a result, world governments are cracking down and instituting stricter and more complex regulations surrounding cybersecurity. These changes will also affect businesses, so leaders should take note.
  4. A steady growth in insider threats. It’s no secret that one of the weakest links in corporate security lies with the employees and other “insiders,” like contractors and consultants. Unfortunately, despite this relatively widespread awareness, successful security breaches through tactics like phishing schemes and ransomware continue to rise. To combat this, organizations must reframe how they approach cybersecurity, acknowledging that the threat often lies within and investing in the appropriate safeguard measures, like employee training and automated incident response.
  5. Addressing the skills gap. While there have been recent strives made in terms of identifying cybersecurity as a critical role for up-and-coming IT scholars to focus their studies on, until these professionals officially become available, the skills gap will remain. As such, organizations must find a way to bridge this gap, whether it’s the lack of qualified experts on the market or the lack of resources necessary to employ such experts. Expect to see increased reliance on MSSPs and/or greater internal adoption of automation to help lighten this load over the coming months.

Are you prepared for these predictions? Will your organization remain secure over the coming year? Stay tuned for part two as we reveal five more cybersecurity trends that we believe will occur over the next 12 months.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

The Case for Network Security Operations Automation

Is network security operations getting harder? Those who work in the trenches day in and day out sure think so. In fact, according to a recent report by Rethinking ITSM for Better ResultsESG Research, a whopping 63 percent of cybersecurity and networking professionals employed by enterprise-level organizations believe it’s more difficult today than it was a mere two years ago. The reason? Well, a big part of it is the fact that there are more connected devices, applications and network traffic today than ever before.

Furthermore, 47 percent of those surveyed report increasing challenges in monitoring network behavior on an end to end basis. 41 percent believe the difficulties surrounding network security operations is due to the increasing adoption of cloud technology.

If you stop and think about it for a moment, enterprise networks are really just a series of moving parts – parts that continue to move at a rate that gets faster and more complex by the day. Organizations with limited resources – namely in the area of qualified network operations and cybersecurity personnel – simply cannot match this pace manually.

Forward-thinking infosec folks recognize the fact that the future of successful network security operations will hinge on the ongoing improvements being made on the automation front. As a matter of fact, 58 percent felt network security operations automation was “very important” in addressing IT initiatives of the future. 31 percent of survey respondents listed network security operations automation as “critical” for the future of IT.

In response to this growing need, IT solutions providers (like Ayehu) are focusing on developing and delivering robust network security operations automation platforms that are designed to address the pain points of this demographic. In addition to providing the ability to streamline and automate manual tasks and workflows, this technology is also built for easy integration with existing systems and applications, such as network monitoring and SIEM. This will allow enterprises to maintain a greater degree of control, intelligence and visibility over the various risks that today’s IT departments face.

The key to successful adoption of network security operations automation will ultimately lie in convincing those IT professionals who are already set in their ways of the many benefits this type of technology has to offer. As with just about any role, it can be challenging to teach and old dog new tricks, so to speak. It will be up to organizational leaders to effectively convince and convert their teams accordingly.

The days of relying on human workers and manual processes to keep the enterprise secure are all but gone. As such, CISOs and network operations managers must now thoroughly assess where they stand in terms of network security operations automation and begin making the transition as soon as possible. Once areas of concern such as bottlenecks and other shortcomings are identified, organizations will need to develop strategies to address these issues, making the adoption of network security operations automation a priority.

If you’re ready to make this transition within your organization, there’s no better time to start than the present. Click here to launch a free 30 day trial of Ayehu’s network security operations automation platform and start positioning your firm for future success.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide

Leveraging IT Automation in the Healthcare Field

Leveraging IT Automation in the Healthcare FieldIn the age of digital optimization, more and more healthcare providers are striving to reduce reliance on paper records as part of an overall effort to improve patient service. By digitizing this central component of the process, operations can be streamlined with the added benefit of fewer human errors. As a result, the healthcare industry is becoming more efficient as a whole, providing a much more favorable patient experience. Let’s take a closer look at the increasing role IT automation is playing in the healthcare field.

When it comes to the medical industry, those working within bear the significant responsibility of keeping assets secure and easily accessible to authorized parties. This is particularly true in the area of IT management. The ability to quickly and seamlessly access healthcare IT resources is absolutely critical. In fact, in some instances, it could quite literally mean the difference between life and death. The monumental task of securely supporting a network of many distributed devices and ensuring that all systems are readily available falls on the shoulders of an IT team that is historically lean.

As part of the effort to digitize, healthcare facilities are adopting new systems and applications designed for the purpose of better patient tracking – from the moment an individual walks through the door until they are discharged, whether it’s hours, days or weeks later. These intuitive applications track everything from the department treating the patient, which tests have been performed, what the results of those tests are, any prescribed medications and more. Healthcare professionals, from doctors and nurses to assistants and pharmacists rely on these systems and applications to perform their jobs better and provide enhanced service to patients.

The result of these new IT management systems and applications is increased demand on the IT department. These additional pressures and responsibilities are placed on them, often with resources that are already limited to begin with. How will they keep up? More importantly, how will they be able to continuously innovate at the same time? The answer lies in IT automation and the heavy lifting it can do for IT personnel.

By automating IT tasks, much of the manual nature of IT is all eliminated, freeing up busy staffers to be able to meet the changing and increasing demands while also maintaining HIPAA compliance. The IT automation tool facilitates the electronic management of distributed devices via one central interface, which saves time, cuts costs and delivers a much more efficient, effective allocation of resources. At the same time, the right IT automation platform can also fortify security of the entire IT environment to protect against potential breaches.

IT automation provides tech teams in the IT field with the ability to improve application availability while also boosting the visibility necessary to more effectively manage distributed environments. All of this can be delivered and managed via a central dashboard, further streamlining IT operations and facilitating a more efficient systems management process. Not only does this approach improve the lives of IT personnel, but it also makes things easier for health care providers which improves the overall patient experience. In other words, with IT automation in healthcare, everybody wins.

Want to see how IT automation can make your healthcare facility run smoother and more efficiently? Try our intelligent IT automation and orchestration platform absolutely free for 30 days. Click here to launch your free trial today!

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

Cybersecurity Tips: 5 Ways to Guard Against Insider Threats

Cybersecurity Tips: 5 Ways to Guard Against Insider ThreatsWhen it comes to the topic of cybersecurity, most of the talk around the industry is about protecting networks and sensitive data from external forces. In reality, the threat from within an organization is equally dangerous. In fact, according to a recent report from Intel, 43 percent of all security incidents (and subsequent data loss) were caused by insiders. That means that nearly half of the risk your company is subject to will come from employees. Are you doing enough to protect against this? Here are five things you can start doing today to create stronger internal security protocols and mitigate risk.

Educate and train employees.

Do your employees truly understand what’s at stake when it comes to protecting the organization’s sensitive data? According to recent statistics, probably not. In fact, Forrester research revealed that 49 percent of knowledge workers are either unaware of or don’t understand the cybersecurity policies of the companies for which they work. And since half of all internal security breaches are caused by accident, this is a key area to focus your efforts.

Make it clear to employees that they are the first line of defense and arm them with the information and support they need to adequately fulfill this responsibility. Educating and training employees can greatly reduce the risk of vulnerabilities due to human error. Even things as simple as creating secure passwords and remembering to log out of the network whenever they leave their workstation can significantly reduce potential exposure.

Test and audit regularly.

Don’t just assume that because you’ve established and communicated clear cybersecurity protocols and educated your employees that there’s no more risk to worry about. A recent study by Forrester indicates that some 42 percent of cyberattacks are initiated by interaction with an internal party, such as a phishing, ransomware and other malware infiltration launched via a malicious email attachment. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are becoming savvier by the day, perfecting their craft by creating material that appears authentic.

Avoid becoming a victim by keeping employees well-versed and up to date on the many different tactics that hackers use and educating them on what to watch for. Then, follow up by performing regular spot-tests and audits to ensure compliance and identify areas where additional training may be warranted. Have employees take pop quizzes on security protocol, conduct routine workplace checks, and perform regular simulated email attacks.

Don’t forget third party associates.

Permanent employees aren’t the only “insiders” that can wreak havoc on an organization’s cybersecurity. Chances are there are a good number of external parties who have some type of access to the inner workings of your company, whether it’s temporary workers, contractors, consultants, vendors or someone else. These third parties effectively widen the attack surface and open additional avenues for cyber criminals to find and exploit vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized network access.

The recent publicized attacks on such big-name corporations as Home Depot and Dairy Queen were ultimately traced back to exposures that occurred with third-party suppliers. This risk can be mitigated by developing and/or strengthening security alliances with all business partners. By working together, sharing experiences and best practices, everyone will become a stronger fortification against all those attackers out there lurking in the wings, waiting to pounce on any opportunity they see.

Fight fire with fire.

You’ve probably already invested in safeguards like network access controls, firewalls, encryption and SIEM technology, but as recent history has proven, this simply isn’t always enough to keep the enemy at bay. Remember – insider accidents are responsible for half of the breaches caused by employees. That means that opening a suspicious email or clicking on a malicious link could provide hackers the foot in the door they need to access your network, systems and data.

Double down on your cybersecurity by incorporating advanced automation technology. This can serve as a force multiplier for your existing incident response strategy so that even those instances where a threat is able to penetrate the hedge of protection you’ve got in place, it can be quickly detected and isolated, thereby mitigating the damage that could potentially be done. An automation and orchestration platform like this will allow you to effective fight fire with fire for a much stronger defense.

Plan ahead for crisis management.

With the relentless number and increasing complexity of incoming attacks, the question is no longer will an organization be targeted, but when. That’s why it’s critical to have an existing plan in place that can be activated the moment a breach is discovered. Start by establishing a crisis management team that includes top leadership from each department (remember – cyber-attacks can occur anywhere, not just in IT).

Your crisis management plan should include details about what actions should be taken, how and when based on various if/then scenarios. It’s also good practice to determine in advance the level of transparency you are comfortable with following a breach. For instance, who should be informed and what information should be passed along pertaining to the incident. It’s also important to communicate with employees so they’re aware of how they should respond should they be questioned about the breach.

With insider threats making up nearly half of all successful cybersecurity breaches, the importance of protecting your organization from the inside out has never been more evident. The steps above should help you fortify your defense – both internally and externally – to keep your network and data safe from potential harm.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? This Could Be the Answer…

Suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? This Could Be the Answer...One of the biggest concerns among those with careers that involve sitting in front of computers is the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition, which primarily affects the hands and wrists is most notable among those whose job duties involve routine, repetitive tasks. The good news is, for those that feel they may be at risk of developing this condition there is something that can help reduce this risk while simultaneously improving productivity and efficiency. That something is IT process automation.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Wikipedia defines carpal tunnel syndrome as a “median entrapment neuropathy” in which the median nerve, located in the wrist, becomes frequently compressed. The result of this compression over time is a medical condition which causes everything from pronounced numbness to pain that ranges from minor to excruciating. The long-term effects of carpal tunnel include permanent nerve damage, constant numbness, pronounced weakness and chronic pain. Treatment options include everything from physical therapy to steroid injections and, in severe cases, even surgery.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel?

While there is some evidence that CTS can be more prevalent in those that are genetically predisposed for the condition – such as people who suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, arthritis and sometimes those who are pregnant – the main contributing factor for most people diagnosed with carpal tunnel is the heavy manual work they complete on a consistent basis using their hands and or wrists. For instance, administrative professionals who do a lot of typing, use the mouse frequently and do other repetitive tasks with their hands are particularly at risk for developing the condition.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has indicated that jobs requiring highly repetitive manual tasks have been associated with diagnosed cases of carpal tunnel, and much research is still being conducted on the subject. So what can one do if they find themselves to be at risk of developing CTS? If the work has to be done, how can that risk be avoided? The answer is simple. Through the use of IT process automation.

How Can IT Process Automation Help?

While the use of splints and braces may provide some outside support for the wrist and thereby prevent some of the damage, it will not necessarily address the long term concern of CTS. The only true way to prevent damage to the median nerve is to reduce the repetitive tasks being performed. When you implement IT process automation into your current work environment, a vast majority of the repetitive, manual tasks can be automated. This means less repetitive motion and subsequent pressure on the delicate nerves in the wrist, which can reduce the chances of damage leading to carpal tunnel.

IT process automation isn’t just for IT professionals. This innovative technology can be used to automate virtually any pain point within your organization – including the repetitive manual tasks being performed by admins, such as data entry and file management. Not only will this automation help keep admins healthier by preventing injuries like CTS, but it will also free up valuable time and resources that can be better spent on other important business matters. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Curious about whether IT process automation is something that would work for your business or specific job title? Start your free trial of the Ayehu platform or call 1-800-652-5601 to speak with an ITPA expert today.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate

Automating Cyber Security Incident Response: The Key to Stopping Breaches Before it is Too Late

Automating Cyber Security Incident Response: The Key to Stopping Breaches Before it is Too Late

This article was originally published in Pipeline Magazine.

According to ongoing research conducted by the Breach Level Index, more than 3.5 million data records are lost or stolen every single day. Furthermore, the costs and ancillary damages stemming from security breaches also continue to rise. In fact, the 2016 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach report revealed that the average cost of just one security breach has risen to a whopping $4 million. Perhaps more noteworthy, however, was the study’s demonstration of a direct correlation between how quickly an organization can identify and contain data breach incidents, and their ability to mitigate subsequent financial consequences.

In terms of malicious attacks, the average time it takes to identify a security breach is around 229 days. More importantly, the time to contain said breach averages out to about 82 days. Wider adoption of things like big data, cloud computing, and hybrid network architectures also bring with them greater risk of cyber security breaches. This reality is compounded by the fact that hackers are becoming more sophisticated than ever before. There is no single technology on the market today that can stop them. And hiring more personnel isn’t the answer either. So, how can understaffed and overworked security professionals meet this ominous threat?

The key is automation. Why? Because it’s a force multiplier. When combined with quality monitoring tools, automation can tie disparate systems and applications together, providing a highly-effective, closed-loop process that can improve response times by 80 percent while simultaneously reducing human errors by 90 percent (and even possibly eliminate them altogether). Will it replace the need for human workers? No – at least not yet. What automation can do, though, is augment existing personnel, allowing them to manage and protect against the ever rising tide of threats, without increasing headcount.

Improving Efficiency, Saving Time and Reducing Errors

Let’s look at an example. The manager of a security operations team at an overseas mobile communications provider realized his team was getting bogged down with laborious manual script-writing to manage a variety of repetitive tasks in their environment. He knew their time could be much better spent focusing on other important, business-critical duties, and automation seemed like it could help free them up for that.

So the mobile communications provider implemented an IT and Security Process Automation solution. The first process it automated was a massive cleanup of disk space on more than 4,000 workstations, followed by the monitoring of the company’s main website for any service downtime or incoming virus threats. Impressed with the results, the company expanded to automate the following:

  • Creation of password expiration reports and notifications;
  • Daily file maintenance;
  • Monitoring alerts from their SIEM-SOC and delivering them in real-time via mail and text message; and
  • Monitoring virus alerts throughout the network and notifying the appropriate employees who were affected.

The manager reported that, before rolling out the automation solution, they were spending a lot of time processing manual tasks and chasing down alerts, then trying to figure out who should be handling them.  Following the deployment, they stopped executing the same repetitive manual tasks over and over, by automating the most critical ones. His team was able to convert most of their manual tasks into automated workflows, easily and efficiently, which not only resulted in a huge time savings, but also provided peace of mind knowing that when an alert came in, the right person was notified.

Mitigating Financial Impact

In addition to solving operational efficiency challenges, automation provides the solution to another pressing problem keeping C-Suite executives up at night – that is, improving response times to security breaches in order to reduce business impact and mitigate financial damages. As the world learned from recent high-profile data breaches in the retail and health care fields, it’s not always possible to prevent attacks; but the faster your IT team can identify, isolate and remediate the breach, the less costly it will be for your organization.

Take, for example, a company that was attempting to manage a rapidly-growing number of cyber security alerts with a staff of just three security analysts.  The team was spending the vast majority of its time responding to, validating, and remediating the underlying incidents that generated those alerts.  Due to its manual approach and limited resources, resolving a single cyber security incident could sometimes take days or even weeks.  The team felt that its process was not only extremely inefficient, but that with the rising number of incidents, they simply would not be able to scale up to keep pace with the growing number of attacks.  By leveraging automation in its security operations center, the team was able to reduce the time needed to respond, validate, and remediate cyber security incidents to hours and even minutes instead of days or weeks, saving the company from potentially significant financial impact. The team’s approach involved two steps:

  • Automating the data enrichment process, enabling much faster determination of whether an incident was a false positive or not.  That reduced “noise pollution” in the alert stream, so greater attention could be given to legitimate security breaches; and
  • Automating remediation of legitimate security breaches (i.e. ransomware infections, website defacement, unauthorized domain admin access, etc.) much more rapidly using automated playbooks, specifically configured for particular breach scenarios.
Using Automated Playbooks

One of the biggest arguments in favor of automation lies in the fact that the majority of data breaches occurring today are being executed by software, not human hackers. This means that targeted attacks can be launched relentlessly around the clock – simply overwhelming the ability of even the most skilled security professionals to deal with them. To combat these often automated threats, organizations must fight fire with fire.  In order to react quickly and effectively to the actions of an automated attack, organizations require an automated response.  Essentially, the battle for cyber security is evolving into machine vs. machine, technology vs. technology.  As a result, automation has become a game changer.

Today’s automation technology has made it possible to collect and analyze event data, and even make predictions based on the results, all without the need for human intervention. This provides the enterprise with a more streamlined, timely and efficient process for detecting and addressing critical threats. By shortening or even eliminating the lag-time of manual incident management and the subsequent delays in remediation, the potential for damages is dramatically reduced.

Surprisingly, automating these tasks doesn’t have to be particularly complex or even difficult. In fact, organizations across the globe are finding that the simplicity of automating their cyber security playbooks can quickly result in a dramatically increased level of protection.  These playbooks can cover everything from how to handle ransomware and malware infections to thwarting unauthorized system access or multiple simultaneous logins. Once the threat in question is identified, the automated playbook immediately executes a remediation workflow.  The workflow can be configured to include pauses for human decision making (i.e. asking whether or not to deactivate someone’s Active Directory ID), or the workflow can execute on “auto-pilot” without any human intervention.  Either way, cyber security incidents are remediated much faster.  And when it comes to cyber security, speed of response can make all the difference between an incident that’s easily resolved and one that isn’t, between incurring no damage and suffering serious financial consequences, between quietly thwarting an attack and having to publicly disclose the embarrassing failure to stop one.

Adopting Automation

For larger enterprises with substantial resources and existing IT staff, automation can alleviate threat-overload and enable security teams to apply their skills to other, more mission-critical tasks and projects. For smaller or mid-sized companies that have limited resources, fewer or inexperienced IT personnel, automation can help bridge the skills gap, providing a much better chance of remaining a step ahead of security breaches.

As the number, frequency, and complexity of security breaches continues to increase, it’s no longer a matter of if your organization will be targeted, but when and how. Companies of every shape, size and industry – even those with small budgets and limited resources – now have the option of using automation to strengthen and fortify their incident response strategies. By incorporating automation as part of a holistic cyber security defense strategy, the inevitable threats that everyone faces can be quickly detected and contained before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your business.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

Cybersecurity in the IoT Age

Cybersecurity in the IoT AgeWithout question, the Internet of Things (IoT) has opened countless virtual doors, allowing organizations across the globe to access, analyze and leverage data like never before. Unfortunately, with literally billions of devices now connected to corporate networks, the risk of potential cybersecurity breaches has also increased tenfold. Sophisticated hackers are working round the clock to identify and exploit device vulnerabilities in an attempt to gain access to sensitive networks and cloud environments.

Let’s take a look at some of the key cybersecurity concerns surrounding the adoption of IoT technology and what you can do to protect your company.

  • Surface Attacks – Hackers gain access to a network via an IoT connected device.
  • Perimeter Attacks – Since IoT technology requires the use of cloud-based services, perimeter attacks must be taken into account.
  • Privacy Violations – IoT data collection and advanced analytics present added risk to consumer privacy.
  • Device Management – Many IoT devices do not support adequate security controls, and with the rapid growth of additional devices hitting the market, maintaining a security baseline continues to be challenging.
  • Third Party Risk – The IoT is inherently interconnected and multiple service providers have access to data, making it difficult to identify and manage potential cybersecurity incidents.
  • Compliance – Lack of clear understanding of the unique legal and regulatory requirements associated with IoT could lead to costly noncompliance situations.

In order to account for these added cybersecurity risks, organizations should focus on the development of security and incident management processes which extend existing policies to address the unique aspects of IoT technology. Additionally, companies leveraging the IoT should consider implementing the following steps:

Risk Assessment and Training – A comprehensive audit should be conducted to assess the level of risk the organization may be dealing with due to IoT adoption, particularly those companies that plan on dealing with third parties. Employees and customers alike should be adequately educated and properly trained on IoT cybersecurity measures.

Network Security – Segment the network and strengthen network access controls to minimize damages should an IoT device become compromised. Extend existing security monitoring and incident response activities to include the addition of IoT devices.

Development and Testing – Identify and address any insecure areas, such as cloud, mobile and web interfaces. Perform regular penetration testing and use information gathered to develop behavioral profiles of all connected devices and users. Incorporate into monitoring strategy.

Data Protection – Utilize strong data encryption policies and extend existing data protection programs to include IoT transactions. If necessary, enhance existing data privacy policies to prevent potential privacy violations.

Endpoint Security – Incorporate a firewall and intrusion prevention system to further strengthen security against IoT cyberattacks. Use secure booting and perform regular integrity checks to enhance operating system security. Limit and control access to the network and device resources.

The IoT has made an indelible impact on the business world, enabling organizations of all sizes and industries to collect, analyze and use valuable data that in many cases would have previously been inaccessible. And with experts predicting the number of worldwide IoT devices growing to around 25 billion by 2020, it’s something all companies must consider. Along with this greater adoption, businesses will also need to adapt and implement new and improved cybersecurity measures to protect precious data from landing in the wrong hands.

Want to learn more about how the Ayehu automation and orchestration platform can enhance your organization’s IoT security strategy? Contact us today or start automating today with your free 30 day trial.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response