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SOAR paper is out!

by Augusto Barros  |  February 22, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Anton beat me this time on blogging about our new research, but I’ll do it anyway :-)

Our document about Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) tools includes some interesting findings. Anton provided some quotes on his post, but I’ll mention some of my favorites too:

  • SIEM tools are often used to aggregate multiple sources of information, but are limited in their ability to query additional data sources and verification services after an initial set of conditions are met. The usual approach is to do as much as possible with that set of conditions and then provide the alert to an analyst for triage, where those additional queries take place.
    However, when the initial conditions set (whether via rules or algorithms, such as machine learning) generate too many alerts, the use case can be infeasible due to the high cost of the manual steps analysts require for triage. The ability to automate postalert queries, such as submitting indicators of compromise (IOCs) to TI services or even artifacts to external sandboxes, allows organizations to implement more threat detection use cases with a high number of initial alerts. (Some of the noisy detection use cases actually deliver valuable insights for as long as they can be quickly triaged.) The automated triage by SOAR effectively acts as the remaining stages of the multistage detection process.


  • Security alert triage, investigation and response are often performed in multistep processes, with new information and evidence being gathered or generated continuously. Organizations also need to record the actions taken for each alert or incident, for reasons varying from simple operations management or knowledge management all the way to auditor requests and compliance requirements. Some small SOCs would usually try to store all that data into simple repositories as file shares or spreadsheets. However, most of them will quickly realize that a system capable of recording the data in a structured format, usually while controlling the process workflow, is required to handle the increasing volume and complexity.


  • Alert triage and incident response are practices that rely on multiple deployed security tools (most often SIEM and EDR tools), including external services such as sandboxes and TI service portals. Without integration between those tools, the analyst would usually resort to inefficient copy and paste from one user interface to the other, which can introduce its own kind of configuration errors. Also, when operating in an incident, analysts are pushed for time and under a lot of pressure, which also can lead to mistakes.
    Notably, such inefficiencies don’t just reduce productivity, but also increase staff burnout and make staff retention harder. SIRP tools provided guidance to the analyst about which steps to take and a centralized location to record the data. However, the tools were still essentially manual.
    With the addition of orchestration and automation to SIRP, these tools moved from records and documentation management to a more central role in security operations. The process workflow documented in the tool is no longer used only as guidance to the analysts. O&A moves these tools to an active role in performing tasks of those processes, and occasionally the entire end-to-end process. Based on Gartner for Technical Professionals inquiry data, the most visible tools covering both SIRP and O&A spaces today are Phantom Cyber, Demisto, IBM Resilient, ServiceNow SecOps and Swimlane.


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Category: endpoint-detection-and-response  future  threat-detection  

Tags: new-research  soar  

Augusto Barros
Research Director
3 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Augusto Barros is Research Director in the Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) Security and Risk Management group. Read Full Bio

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