Why Automation is Now Essential in Securely Managing Your Cloud’s Attack Surfaces

Why Automation is Now Essential in Securely Managing Your Cloud’s Attack Surfaces
7 min read
06 January 2023

As more and more businesses shift to the cloud, automation is becoming an essential component of modern security posture management. This is because the dynamic nature of cloud-based operations makes traditional security methods insufficient for mitigating risks. As of 2022, six out of ten businesses have moved their operations to the cloud. The public cloud computing industry will be worth $800 billion by 2025.

Along with this growth, however, cyber threats are constantly evolving and finding new vulnerabilities in cloud systems, making it difficult for human analysts to keep up. In fact, the manual process of testing security controls and responding to alerts would require a massive team of security analysts, which would be extremely expensive and may not be feasible given the current shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

Furthermore, manual security measures are prone to human error. In 2022 for instance, hackers broke into the database of the Shanghai Police, which exposed the personal data of at least 1 billion individuals. The said breach was a result of an exposed cloud-based data visualization platform running on the said department’s deployment of Alibaba Cloud. This underscores the importance of ensuring proper security patching, configurations, and endpoint protection. Simply utilizing default security procedures is no longer acceptable.

Other potential errors can be caused by programming mistakes, publishing errors, and misdeliveries, and often involve system engineers or "DevOps 24/7 super engineers."

Automation as a support to decision-making

To address these challenges, automation is necessary for effectively detecting and responding to threats and for optimizing cybersecurity costs. While automation will not replace human cybersecurity experts, it can help alleviate the overwhelming volume of attacks that businesses face by handling alerts and incidents that do not require complex decision-making. Automation can also reduce the risk of human error, making it a valuable tool for improving the overall security posture of an organization.

In addition to improving threat detection and response and optimizing cybersecurity costs, automation can also help businesses to better manage their security posture by streamlining processes and providing greater visibility into their systems. Automation in attack surface management can help to identify misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in real-time, allowing organizations to quickly address any issues before they can be exploited by cyber attackers. It can also assist with compliance, helping businesses to ensure that they are meeting relevant regulations and industry standards.

Automation can also make tasks related to security information and event management (SIEM) and security validation more efficient, freeing human analysts to focus on more complex tasks that require human judgment and decision-making. By automating these tasks, businesses can improve the efficiency of their cybersecurity operations and better protect themselves from cyber threats.

Overall, the adoption of automation in attack surface management is a must for businesses as they shift toward the cloud. Automation can help to improve threat detection and response, optimize cybersecurity costs, and streamline processes, making it an essential tool for maintaining the security of an organization's systems and data.

Going beyond automation

It is important to note that automation alone is not a complete solution for addressing the security challenges that businesses face in the cloud. To fully protect themselves from cyber threats, organizations must also implement a range of other security measures, such as strong passwords, access controls, and regular software updates. In addition, businesses should invest in cybersecurity training for their employees to help them understand the importance of security and how to identify and avoid potential threats.

To fully realize the benefits of automation in security posture management, businesses must also ensure that they have the right tools and technologies in place. This includes investing in security automation software specifically designed to address the unique challenges of the cloud. These tools should be able to identify misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, and other security issues in real-time, alerting businesses to any potential risks so that they can be addressed promptly.

Working with standardized frameworks for managing security

One effective strategy for automating attack surface management is working with the MITRE ATT&CK framework, which provides a common language and methodology for identifying and analyzing threats. By using the framework to categorize and understand the various tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by attackers, organizations can more easily automate the process of detecting and responding to threats. For example, an organization could use the MITRE ATT&CK framework to identify specific tactics and techniques used by attackers and then use automation tools to continuously monitor for these indicators of compromise (IOCs).

Another way in which the MITRE ATT&CK framework can aid in automation is by providing a comprehensive view of an organization's attack surface. The framework includes detailed information on the various types of assets and systems that attackers may target, as well as the TTPs that they may use to exploit these assets. This information can help organizations to prioritize their security efforts and focus on the areas of their attack surface that are most vulnerable to attack. By automating the process of identifying and analyzing potential vulnerabilities, organizations can more efficiently manage their attack surface and mitigate risks.

In addition to aiding in the automation of attack surface management, the MITRE ATT&CK framework can also help organizations to improve their overall cybersecurity posture by providing a clear understanding of the various threats that they may face. By using the framework to analyze and understand the TTPs used by attackers, organizations can more effectively develop and implement security measures to defend against these threats. This includes not only automated tools and processes, but also the development of security policies and procedures, employee training, and the implementation of best practices for security.

Infographic Provided By personal banking services company, Centier Bank

The takeaway

The adoption of cloud technologies has brought about significant changes in the field of cybersecurity. As businesses continue to adopt the cloud, they are facing new and evolving security challenges that traditional security methods are not equipped to handle. Automation has become a crucial component of modern security posture management, as it enables continuous security validation and helps businesses to better manage their security posture by streamlining processes and providing greater visibility into their systems.

However, it is important to note that automation alone is not a complete solution for addressing the security challenges of the cloud. Businesses must also implement a range of other security measures, such as strong passwords, access controls, and regular software updates, and invest in cybersecurity training for their employees.

To fully realize the benefits of automation, businesses must also ensure that they have the right tools and technologies in place, including security automation software specifically designed to address the unique challenges of the cloud. By taking these steps, businesses can effectively protect themselves from cyber threats and ensure the security of their systems and data as they shift toward the cloud.

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Alex 9.9K
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