Why Is Everybody Talking About Automation?

By Mike Polatsek
image August 20, 2018 image 3 MIN READ


Everyone in the security world is talking about automation. What began as a hot trend in code development is fast becoming the standard in cybersecurity. In this post, we’ll shed some light on why automation is important for today’s security professionals—and what you can do to leverage it for your organization’s benefit.


Automation is Not Always Automatic


So, what is automation, exactly? If you’re like many people, you may equate it with something getting done for you, without requiring you to think about it much, if at all. But this isn’t always the case.


Let’s take an example from the automotive world. A ten-year-old car and the latest Tesla prototype are both, in a certain sense of the word, automated vehicles. Each will get you to your destination, but your commute will vary significantly between the two cars. While both have automated technologies such as electronic control units, assisted braking, and power steering, the older car will require more manual intervention on your part, while the Tesla will provide a more ‘automatic’ driving experience.


In other words, automation does not always free you to get out of the driver’s seat and move to the back seat. There’s no guarantee it will create less work for you.


It’s especially important to remember this when evaluating a security automation solution.

There are many worthwhile reasons to consider automation, and many of them are related to staffing issues. We probably don’t have to point out that cybersecurity talent is highly coveted by employers—a demand which far exceeds the supply of potential hires. This fact, coupled with security departments’ high turnover, means that you want your security team to focus on work commensurate with their abilities rather than on low-level challenges.


So if you’re ready to make a move into security automation, here’s a three-step process that will help guide your decision-making:


Step 1: Identify Time-Wasting Tasks

Ask yourself: “How much time is my security team putting into mundane tasks?” If resource limitations have driven your quest for automated solutions, chances are the answer is “a lot.”


For instance, designing a phishing simulation (taking it from initial idea to a working HTML/CSS prototype) may seem on the surface like a simple project. But when you break it down into its constituent components (brainstorming, visual design, content development, testing, etc.), it becomes apparent that this can be a time-consuming endeavor.


Step 2: Build Capacity with Broader Goals

The second step is to look beyond the given tasks themselves. Automation shouldn’t be seen as merely the ability to perform the same work with code. Instead, it should be viewed as a chance to move beyond the boundaries of manual processing—an opportunity to go the extra mile.


Let’s go back to our previous example of a phishing simulation. We’ve established that sending even one simulation a month can be extremely time-consuming. But the demands of one security exercise don’t justify automation. To reap its actual benefits, look beyond your present capabilities toward the future. If you’ve invested in the switch to automation, there’s no need to be bound by your former limitations. With your increased capacity, you can now conduct two or even 10 in the same amount of time as a single manually run simulation.


Step 3: Find Alignment with an Automated Solution

You’ve figured out where automation fits into your security workflow and how it can help you set the bar even higher—great! Now it’s time to choose an automated solution. So you gather data about features and pricing, narrow the field down to a handful of vendors, and submit RFPs.


But something doesn’t feel right. When the proposals arrive in your inbox and you review them, it’s information overload. If anything, you feel that it’s even more difficult for you to make a choice-—despite following what you believe is the right process.


Here’s the thing: You could actually be asking the wrong questions.


As the adage goes, less is more. And it’s especially true when dealing with automation. We recommend that you shift your focus away from features, options, and other ‘buttons and levers.’ Instead, ask yourself: does this particular security automation solution enable me to reach my security goals? How much effort does it take for you to achieve them? What is the opportunity cost (time wasted, other tasks overlooked, work piling up) of not investing in automation? By focusing on the end rather than the means, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to choose a sustainable automation solution.


Automation: A Force Multiplier


We kept all three of these points in mind as we developed a learning  security awareness training platform focused on effectiveness with near-zero operating costs. Automation has been baked in our company from the very beginning—it’s at the heart of everything we do. We streamlined our security infrastructure with the same automated awareness training solutions we offer our customers.


At CybeReady, security awareness training automation isn’t a marketing pitch or an added bonus: it’s an innovation that enables us to take care of the ‘how’ so that you can redefine and expand your definition of the ‘what.’