3 Challenges Every SOC Struggles With (and How to Overcome Them)

In the cybersecurity realm, security operations centers (SOCs) are under increasing pressure to not only be proactive about protecting networks and the sensitive data contained within, but in many cases, they are expected to be predictive. This is coupled with the demand to provide 24/7 protection. All of this requires that SOC leaders learn from, understand and remain a step ahead of would-be attackers. That being said, there are certain challenges that just about every SOC is plagued by. Here are three such obstacles and how to effectively overcome them with SOC automation.

Resource Allocation

One of the biggest issues SOC leaders face today is centered on staffing, or the lack of qualified personnel. Are there enough people on staff? Do they have the right skills for the job? What happens if and when someone leaves? While some organizations choose to solve this problem with outsourcing, there is then the compounded issue of greater vulnerability that comes with remote work environments.

3 Challenges Every SOC Struggles With (and How to Overcome Them)These resource constraints don’t have to be crippling to productivity or even growth, provided the right technology is in place. For instance, SOC automation can provide continuous monitoring as well as rapid response and resolution with little to no human intervention required. Such a setup enables even the smallest of teams to run efficient, highly effective and profitable operations.

Information Overload

There has been a noticeable shift over the last decade or so through which security operation centers have gone from intelligence scarcity to experiencing what can only be referred to as information overload. Today, SOC operators are challenged with sifting through mountains of data – from emails and reports to files and alerts – with a goal of extracting the information they need and leveraging that data to effectively thwart potential cybersecurity incidents.

To combat this challenge, it is recommended that SOC leaders focus on obtaining information from known and trusted sources, thereby narrowing volume and eliminating unnecessary noise. From there, they should prioritize and address the data that is deemed to be relevant to their particular environments. Furthermore, SOC automation can be utilized for better threat management and help avoid alert fatigue.

Data Integrity & Intelligence Management

Last, but certainly not least there is the challenge of standardization for the purpose of effective information sharing. Now that the cybersecurity domain has become a place where intelligence transfer is commonplace, there is a new struggle that involves determining and agreeing upon a set of standards for how that intelligence is classified, validated, communicated and, of course, protected.

To address this, the first step revolves around the development and adoption of common naming conventions and common indicator formats. For instance, naming identified APTs, malware and viruses. From there, creating and maintaining a database of past attacks and attackers is recommended in order to develop a set of best practices. This requires more of a focus on building a predictive and actionable defense rather than reactively putting out fires as they occur. Once again, SOC automation fits right into this strategy by providing the tools necessary to easily track, monitor and report cybersecurity data.

Is your SOC struggling with one or more of these common challenges? If so, automation could be the key to getting things back on the right track. Download your free trial of our innovative SOC automation platform today!





eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response




5 Ways Automation Benefits IT Operations

5 Ways Automation Benefits IT OperationsMost IT operations managers struggle with the daily challenge of getting more done with fewer resources. This requires the intelligent use of technology, namely automation, which can effectively serve as a force multiplier, particularly in cases where staff is limited. In fact, there are five specific advantages for leveraging automation technology to streamline IT operations. These benefits are as follows:

Cost Reduction – Most organizations are actively striving to reduce costs whenever and wherever possible. Automation helps facilitate this savings in a number of ways, including greater output of work, fewer errors and lower human personnel numbers.

Enhanced Productivity – Automating workflows eliminate the need for manual work, which not only improves output, but it also frees up talented IT operations personnel to apply their knowledge and advanced skills to more important tasks and projects. Plus, by reducing turnaround time, more work can be processed on a daily basis.

Greater Availability – System outages can cost an organization millions of dollars in lost revenue, not to mention the damage to the company’s reputation. One of IT operations main priorities is achieving the highest levels of availability possible, an objective supported by automation. With things like automated save and recovery, round-the-clock system monitoring and remote communication, network downtime can be reduced significantly. Likewise, recovery can be facilitated much more quickly, mitigating damages.

More Reliability – Like it or not, IT operations includes some of the most mundane, repetitive (but entirely necessary) tasks, which is why it is also much more error-prone. When the human factor is eliminated from this process, those costly errors also go away. This is especially beneficial in larger networks that feature multiple operating systems. Automated IT operations can vastly improve reliability while simultaneously relieving personnel of tedious manual tasks.

Optimized Performance – Another hurdle most IT operations professionals face is the demand to perform tasks and workflows faster, more efficiently and at a much higher workload. It’s challenging to keep up with these demands without becoming overburdened with work. Thankfully, tools like automation can provide the missing link to maximizing performance without having to hire more staff.

In summary, automation help IT ops run like a well-oiled machine. Want to experience the above benefits for your own organization? Launch your free trial of Ayehu’s automation and orchestration platform today.



IT Process Automation Survival Guide




IT Team Working from Home? With IT Automation It’s Possible

IT Team Working from Home? With IT Automation It's PossibleWith the leaps and bounds we’ve made over the past several decades in terms of technology and the widespread adoption of cloud computing, more and more organizations are allowing telecommuting as an added benefit for their employees. Yet, paradoxically, those who are among the very industry that has enabled remote working – the IT industry – have somehow gotten left behind. The majority of IT professionals in the workforce today remain chained to their desks, trapped within the confines of their brick and mortar offices.  The good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel that will enable IT staff to take advantage of technological advances and be able to successfully do their jobs from home. The answer? IT automation. Here’s how.

What’s been standing in the way?

Given the fact that businesses across all industries rely on their internal IT infrastructure to tie together every department and make the jobs of employees easier and more efficient, it’s no surprise that those running the show behind the scenes in the IT department have long been considered the “heart” of the company. They’re the ones that keep things up and running, from resetting passwords to restarting systems to managing down time in the most efficient and effective manner. It’s no wonder that the very thought of allowing these critical players to work from anywhere outside of the confines of the office would send shivers down the spine of every top executive within the company.

What happens if something goes wrong and half of the IT department is working from home? Can they really manage the situation remotely, or will the entire company suffer? It is this overwhelming fear that kept many IT professionals from being granted the same freedoms of other skilled employees in other departments. The result? Frustration, resentment, a lowered level of employee satisfaction and ultimately, higher turnover.

Enter IT automation as a solution to the problem…

The most obvious way that IT automation can be used to enable telecommuting is by allowing technology to take over many of the manual tasks that once required human intervention. When your team no longer has to spend hours doing repetitive manual tasks, such as writing scripts or managing workflows, there’s much more flexibility. Specifically, those simple but critical day to day tasks that are so important to keeping the entire company functioning, such as password resets and system restarts, can now be automated.

Another way that IT automation is changing the way IT departments work is in the methods that even complex tasks are being managed. For instance, network operation centers (NOC) are notoriously bogged down by incoming requests and tasked with upholding tight SLA’s to keep satisfaction levels high. Where these IT professionals would have previously been required to remain vigilant at their work stations to effectively manage incoming notifications, now those alerts and notifications can be sent instantly to the appropriate party via email or even SMS text and responded to remotely, thus freeing up employees to be able to do their jobs efficiently from anywhere.

Is it worth it?

It may be surprising to some the extent to which employees in the workforce today value the ability to work from home. In fact, in a study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 80% consider telecommuting an attractive perk in an employer. Furthermore, 36% would choose remote working over a pay raise. And telecommuting doesn’t just benefit employees. Out of 1,500 technology professionals polled, 37% of them said they would take a 10% cut in pay to be able to work from home. That means an automatic reduction in salary expenditure, not to mention lower turnover due to a boost in employee satisfaction.

Specifically, some of the many advantages of allowing employees to telecommute include:

  • Increases employee satisfaction
  • Reduces employee turnover
  • Increases productivity
  • Reduces unscheduled absences
  • Saves the company money
  • Promotes collaboration and employee empowerment
  • Allows for recruitment of talent without geographical restraints
  • Better for the environment

With more organizations granting their employees more freedom and flexibility to work from home, IT professionals everywhere were beginning to feel the impact. IT automation is now providing the necessary solution to eliminate the need for IT staff to be physically within the office, giving them the tools to effectively do their jobs from wherever they choose. This has succeeded in both leveling the playing field for IT professionals and in ultimately bringing even more benefits to the organizations as a whole – a true win-win.

Ready to see how IT automation can set your team free? Download your free 30 day trial today!





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




The True Cost of Network Downtime

The True Cost of Network DowntimeA recent report published by IDC and sponsored by AppDynamics reveals the actual costs associated with network downtime and infrastructure failure. The results are pretty compelling. For a Fortune 1000 company:

  • The average cost of a critical application is between $500k and $1 million per hour
  • The average cost of an infrastructure failure is $100k per hour
  • The average annual total cost of unplanned downtime is between $1.25 billion and $2.5 billion

Obviously these numbers will vary depending on the size of the organization, but regardless, they’re pretty eye opening.

The survey also provided some valuable insight into adoption of DevOps tools. As it turns out, nearly half (43 percent) of respondents said they were already employing DevOps while 40 percent have a plan in place to do so in the near future. Yet, despite these relatively positive numbers, the survey also revealed some of the common obstacles to DevOps adoption, and they’re nothing we haven’t seen time and time again.

  • 7% Cultural inhibitors
  • 3% Fragmented processes
  • 7% Lack of executive support

Another intriguing trend the study uncovered references organizations that try to use their existing tool sets to create a make-shift DevOps environment. For these companies, there is a pretty hefty fail rate (somewhere around 80 percent), making it abundantly clear that in order to be successful in adopting DevOps, the appropriate tools and applications are needed. For those organizations doing the right thing (or those that intend to), the biggest initiatives driving those decisions include:

  • IT process automation 60%
  • Continuous delivery 50%
  • Continuous integration 43.3%
  • Automated testing 43.3%
  • Application monitoring/management 43.3%

For us, the key takeaways of this report both lead back to the fact that IT process automation is becoming a mainstream component of IT departments across the board. Not only does it provide a solution to reducing network downtime and thereby mitigating the astronomical costs associated with that downtime, but it’s also the major driving force behind successful DevOps adoption and implementation.

Regardless of whether your company runs the risk of losses as big as those projected above, or you’re (thankfully) on a much smaller scale, outages can and will impact your bottom line. Implementing the right tools, including ITPA and automated cyber security incident response, can help lower this risk significantly. It will also facilitate a more efficient, productive and streamlined DevOps environment in which all parts work together in tandem for the greater good of the organization.

As always, we recommend taking any survey numbers (even those from reputable sources such as this) with a certain grain of salt. We also recommend arming yourself with the one weapon that can combat both issues discussed here: IT process automation. You can get started right now by simply clicking here and downloading a free trial. Don’t end up on the wrong end of the statistics. Start automating today.



How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




5 Reasons You Should Be Budgeting for IT Process Automation

5 Reasons You Should Be Budgeting for IT Process AutomationIf you’re under the impression that IT processes are not all that important to your business, perhaps it’s better to look at it from another angle. How much do you believe downtime can and will cost your company? Last check put that number at around $9,000 per minute. That’s right. Per minute. So, yes, ensuring that IT runs smoothly and avoiding potential outages is absolutely critical. IT process automation is the key to achieving this goal. Here’s why (and five distinct reasons you need to start budgeting for it ASAP).

Optimize Billable Time

How much time does your IT team spend watching to ensure that jobs are completed? How about manual scripting? Likewise, how much time is wasted by the end-user waiting for the help desk to process tickets? All of that time adds up and it’s costing your company big time. IT process automation can shift the manual labor from human to machine, streamlining operations and freeing up talented individuals to be able to apply their skills to more important tasks and projects.

Reduce Redundancies

When processes are handled manually, there are inevitably going to be a number of situations in which there are too many hands in the pot. This can lead to costly redundancies. IT process automation can help reduce the amount of times different employees have to “touch” the same machine or file, which is essential in maintaining a cost-effective operation. With automation in place, businesses can ensure that every touch serves a valid purpose.

Better Communication & Accountability

Breakdowns in communication occur everywhere – including inner and inter-departmentally. As a result, it can be easy to lose track of who is responsible for what, which leads to mistakes and miscues that could prove costly. Automating reporting, alerting and notification ensures that everyone stays on the same page. The right IT process automation platform should also provide a central dashboard, facilitating greater ownership and enhanced visibility into any and all processes. This keeps management fully aware of what’s happening so no balls get dropped.

Improve Service Levels

Given today’s ever-increasing need for instant, quality service and amidst the growing competition in the IT services field, providers are having to find newer and more efficient ways to operate. Only those companies that are agile will be capable of competing on a global scale. By investing in IT process automation, tasks, processes and workflows are performed faster and free of errors. Employees are happier and more productive and customers (internal and external) are more satisfied because they’re consistently receiving exceptional service.

Boost Response Time

When something malfunctions, the fallout from a delay in response time can be quite impactful – not to mention the time IT personnel must waste trying to identify and correct the problem. Today’s technology enables businesses to work smarter by implementing IT process automation as the watchdog capable of pinpointing issues as they occur (sometimes even before they happen). Whether it’s a machine, system, application or entire network that’s in question, a quality ITPA platform can expedite response time to reduce or eliminate costly downtime.

As more capital is being invested into the ongoing development of technology as it relates to artificial intelligence, it’s becoming abundantly clear that IT process automation is here to stay. More importantly, IT process automation has the potential to help businesses of every size and industry streamline operations, maximize efficiency, improve response time and deliver better service overall.

Are you ready to experience what ITPA can do for your company? Start your journey today by downloading your free, fully functional trial of Ayehu automation and orchestration platform. Click here to get started today!





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Rethinking ITSM for Better Results

Rethinking ITSM for Better ResultsTo date, ITSM has been viewed as just one component of the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) processes. However, with the ongoing shift from fragmented of IT operations services to a more end-to-end, service-driven approach, the concept of ITSM has been positioned to play an increasingly critical role in overeall business operations. In order to successfully navigate this shift toward service, IT professionals must rethink what this practice is really about and how it will serve their organizations moving forward.

The Origin of ITSM

When it was originally developed, ITSM was intended to bring a more unified approach to how technology services were integrated throughout the organization. Rather than managing individual components, ITSM focused on developing a collection of best practice processes (ITIL) and using these best practices to deliver end-to-end services. Organizations would conduct ITSM audits which measured things like ROI, budget adherence, the effectiveness of communication and the ability to effectively detect and evaluate risk. The purpose was to identify areas that needed improvement so that IT services could be better honed to benefit the organization as a whole.

The Missing Piece…

While in theory ITSM is still a solid practice, in order for it to be truly effective it must evolve along with the changes of IT on a more holistic basis. What’s missing from the initial concept of ITSM is the end-user – the customer, so to speak. Internal processes may have been significantly improved, but if these improvements don’t trickle to the customer, it’s not a real victory.

Changing the Perception of ITSM

In order to get the most out of ITSM, there must be a shift in viewpoint from strictly internal to also include external value. The easiest way to do this is to simply drop the “IT” from ITSM and replace it with automation. This essentially expands the benefit from the internal operations of the enterprise to also improve the customer experience through the delivery of higher quality service and faster outcomes at a much more attractive price. Internal processes are streamlined and made more efficient, while external service also improves. In other words, it’s a win-win.

If businesses are going to be successful in the future, they must leverage new and changing technology to truly deliver the unique and unparalleled experiences that their customers are seeking. Adjusting the concept of ITSM to incorporate automation into the mix will accomplish this goal, providing the competitive advantage needed to thrive in the coming years.

Want to learn more about how automation can position your organization for future success? Check out our free ITSM Automation eBook. 





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Ayehu Featured in Mergermarket

Ayehu is pleased to announce the company’s recently featured interview in Mergermarket, the leading provider of forward-looking M&A intelligence and data to M&A professionals and corporates around the world.

In anticipation of the company’s plans to close a Series B round of fundraising over the coming few months, Ayehu’s CEO and founder Gabby Nizri sat down with Mergermarket’s Chris Metinko to discuss the details.

The ultimate goal is to raise enough capital to facilitate entry into the cloud as well as extend the company’s machine learning capabilities. In order to achieve these goals, the new round must raise between $10 million and $15 million.

This latest move comes as part of the company’s ongoing shift from general IT process automation to a more targeted focus on the sector of automated cybersecurity incident response. This shift has resulted in revenue growth of 250% in 2016 alone and the company has officially reached the point of breakeven cash flow. Today Ayehu serves over 150 enterprise-level customers and growing.

In order to fulfill this round of funding, which could close as early as March, a new lead investor will likely be needed. A strategic partnership in either the managed service provider or security realm may also be a possibility. The company has been receiving inbound inquiries on this even before deciding to officially seek this latest round.

In terms of competition, Nizri pointed out in his interview that there are several different angles to consider. From the general IT automation perspective, the company competes with such well-known brands as ServiceNow, Hewlett-Packard and BMC Software. From the cybersecurity angle, the main players include IBM, FireEye, Phantom and Hexadite. Additionally, there are the competitors who also feature embedded tools, such as Microsoft, VMware and CA Technologies.

According to the Mergermarket interview, Nizri mentioned the fact that the company will also continue to keep its options open for a potential exit down the road. To date, Ayehu has raised approximately $6 million in funding.

7 Ways to Spot a Phishing Scam

7 Ways to Spot a Phishing ScamDid you know that upwards of 85 percent of all organizations today have been victims of some type of phishing attack? And with the average cost of a successful phishing scam ringing in at around $1.6 million, the problem is very real. What’s more, it’s not just everyday employees being targeted. In fact, 1 in 3 companies are routinely attacked in the form of CEO fraud emails.

These statistics should bring to light the critical importance of protecting your organization – regardless of size or industry – against potential malware attacks, and as always, the best defense is a good offense. To prevent your employees (particularly those in the C-suite) from being bested by a hacker, here are things to train them to watch for.

 

Poor Grammar and/or Spelling – One of the first clues that a particular message might have been sent with malicious intent is the quality of the content within. While most monitoring programs successfully filter out most harmful emails, some will inevitably sneak by. A message from an unknown sender containing poor grammar, misspelled words or content that isn’t logical should raise some red flags.

Mismatched URLs – The goal of a phishing campaign is to give the appearance of authenticity in order to convince the recipient that it’s ok to open an attachment or click on an embedded link. In the latter, the URL may look completely legitimate when, in fact, it actually redirects to a malicious site. To avoid this, all employees should be encouraged to hover over URLs to verify that the actual hyperlink matches.

Misleading Domain Names – Another trick many hackers use in phishing scams is to use misleading domain names to make unsuspecting recipients believe a URL is trustworthy. This can easily be identified by how the URL is laid out. For instance, a phishing artist may attempt to trick a victim by creating a child domain with a familiar name, such as Apple and then linking it to a malicious site. The result might be something like: Apple.malicousdomainname.com. Educating employees on how DNS naming structure works can help quickly detect and address any potential fraudulent messages before they are successful.

Requests for Personal Information – Regardless of how official an email may appear, if the message contained within requests personal information, proceed with extreme caution. Remind employees to always take a step back and assess the logic of these types of messages. Banks or credit card companies don’t need customers to provide their account numbers. Likewise, reputable senders will never ask for things like passwords, credit card numbers of anything else that’s confidential in nature.

Unsolicited Contact – If receiving an email filled with lofty promises seems too good to be true, it probably is. Furthermore, if you didn’t do anything to initiate the contact in the first place, it’s almost certainly going to be some type of scam. Any such message should always be regarded with suspicion and great caution.

Messages Containing Threats – While most phishing campaigns lure victims with the promise of enrichment, some hackers resort instead to rely on intimidation tactics to scare recipients into giving up sensitive information. For instance, an email like this might appear to be from a trusted and respected sender, such as a bank or the IRS, and it might contain a message threatening account closure or asset seizure if money or personal information isn’t provided. These types of intimidating messages should raise a red flag.

Something Just Doesn’t Look Right – Last, but certainly not least, intuition can often be enough to flag a potentially harmful email. Teach employees that if they receive a message that gives them pause, for whatever reason, they should trust their gut and escalate it accordingly. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Are you doing enough to protect your organization against phishing and other malicious campaigns? Educate your employees on what red flags to watch for and remind them to never click on a link or open an attachment from an unknown or suspicious sender. Then, fortify your cybersecurity incident response strategy with automation.

Click here to start your free 30 day trial today and get the peace of mind you deserve.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




Live Webinar: Automating IT Processes in a Code-Filled World: Why Scripting is Not Real Automation

Live WebinarToday’s IT operations professionals are facing an uphill battle with a seemingly never-ending barrage of alerts, requests, tickets, and incidents.

To address this shoulder-crushing workload, these individuals and teams must decide whether to build their own scripts or invest in IT automation software. It may seem like an easy fix to write up a few lines of code to automate a manual process and voila! It’s done.

In reality, it’s not that simple. In fact, if you’re still relying on manual scripting, you and your team are wasting precious time and resources.

 

On Tuesday, March 14, 2017. 12:00 p.m. EDT / 9:00 a.m. PDT, the Ayehu team will be presenting a free live webinar that will delve into the ins and outs of why scripting is not the same as real automation.

In this live, expert presentation, you’ll learn:

  • How scripting differs from automation
  • How to break down key challenges that scripting introduces into the IT environment
  • Explore 3 crucial and often overlooked technical considerations

We’ll also be presenting a live demonstration of how to translate a script into an automated workflow.

Are you an IT professional who is tired of wasting time on manual scripting? Would you like to see firsthand how true automation can revolutionize the way you do your job (and make your life exponentially easier)? If so, you do NOT want to miss this live online presentation.

But hurry…. attendance is limited and we fully expect that this highly-anticipated webinar will fill up quickly.

Register today to reserve your spot!

Creating an Effective Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan

There are two common reasons why many organizations today are still failing to properly prepare for possible cyber-attacks. Some companies erroneously believe that the cybersecurity incident response plan they already have in place is sufficient enough to handle threats, while others mistakenly believe they are not at risk of such an attack at all. But given all the recent high-profile breaches, it’s more evident now than ever before that every business must prepare for the inevitable because everyone is at risk. That said, here are a few tips for establishing a highly effective cybersecurity incident response plan that will keep your organization protected from would-be online attacks.

Creating an Effective Cybersecurity Incident Response PlanFirst, you must evaluate and test your existing incident response protocol to determine its current state and identify areas of potential vulnerability. It’s important to not only have a strategy in place but to also check it regularly to ensure that it’s working as it should be. Simulation exercises and penetration tests should be conducted on a regular basis, not only to assess the quality of the IR plan, but to keep personnel prepared for what steps are necessary to address legitimate threats and, if needed, bring systems back online quickly.

An analysis of existing strategies should also include a check of whether the right tools are being leveraged to simplify, consolidate and streamline the overall cybersecurity incident response process. One of the most common issues behind successful security breaches is the fact that IT personnel simply do not have the bandwidth to effectively field the volume of incoming threats. This is how incidents slip in under the radar and wreak havoc. Adding automation into the process can eliminate this problem by allowing technology to identify, validate and prioritize all incoming threats.

Whether your organization happens to have a plan in place that is inadequate or you’ve not yet taken any measures to develop such a plan, the key is first recognizing the risk and ensuring that your systems and strategies are fully tested and properly planned. Additionally, personnel must be brought up to speed and well-versed in situational response. The hurdles of cost and lack of resources can easily be overcome by employing cost-conscious solutions, like integrating an ITPA tool with existing systems to enhance and extend their effectiveness. A combination of advanced, intuitive technology and adequate staff training should do the trick.

The fact is, cyber-attacks can happen at any time and to any business in any industry. How quickly and fully your organization is able to recover from such an attack is directly proportionate to the quality of the cybersecurity incident response plan you have in place. By applying the principles outlined above, you can proactively manage incoming threats and handle incidents in a timely manner, thereby keeping your company’s sensitive data safe from imminent harm and minimizing downtime as much as possible.

Is your cybersecurity incident response plan strong enough to keep your network secure? Could the added benefit of automation improve and enhance its effectiveness? More importantly, can your organization afford to remain vulnerable to dangerous and costly cyber-attacks? Give our IT process automation and orchestration platform a try free for 30 days and start protecting your business today.



eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response