Beyond SIEM: Why Your Security Posture Needs to SOAR

Andrew Douthwaite

March 20, 2019

Last updated August 19, 2022


  • SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management—there are two kinds of SIEM system: unmanaged and managed.
  • Unmanaged SIEM systems are often only effective for detecting specific threats. They can also lead to data silos, which make it harder for organizations to take a holistic view of their network.
  • Using a cybersecurity team to manage your SIEM system can help address these gaps. SOAR functionality is one way to do this.
  • SOAR stands for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response. It involves three pillars: threat and vulnerability management, security incident response, and security operations automation.
  • Virtual Armor’s managed cybersecurity services can help businesses move towards embracing SOAR functionality.

Companies that are concerned about cybersecurity likely have SIEM protocols in place to safeguard their digital assets. However, cybersecurity and cybercrime are continually evolving and shifting, which means that simple SIEM approach is no longer enough.

There is also a global shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts, which makes smart, integrated, comprehensive security response systems more critical than ever. That is why many companies are turning towards automated systems and hiring Managed Security Service Providers instead of hiring internal cybersecurity teams.

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The Shortcomings of Unmanaged SIEM

Beyond SIEM: Introducing SOAR

SIEM, which stands for Security Information and Event Management, refers to software products that are designed to monitor your company’s network for suspicious activity and alert your team to any potential problems. SIEM products are typically only good at addressing specific threats, which can leave significant gaps in your cybersecurity defenses unless they are actively and holistically managed.

A naive or unmanaged SIEM approach can also inadvertently create data silos, where repositories of fixed data are controlled by one department and isolated from the rest of the organization. This makes it difficult for departments to share data, which is necessary for creating a robust cybersecurity strategy.

While you can close cybersecurity gaps by overlapping multiple programs, this process is inefficient and requires significant time and resources. It is also not always possible to completely eliminate data silos or fully integrate the different solutions unless you have a cybersecurity team overseeing your SIEM.

Another problem with relying on a patchwork of programs is multiple reportings. If more than one program picks up on a potential threat, then all of the programs that detect the threat will likely send out an alert, overwhelming your in house security team and potentially leading to alarm fatigue.

A SIEM system requires a fair amount of oversight and constant monitoring in order to adequately meet an organization’s cybersecurity needs. A managed SIEM, such as those offered by VirtualArmour, can allow you to compensate for these shortcomings by utilizing SOAR functionality to fill in the gaps and ensure that the entire system is monitored correctly.

The Benefits of SOAR

The Benefits of SOAR

To help rectify the limitations of unmanaged SIEM the security research company Gartner created the term SOAR, which stands for Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response.

SOAR takes the benefits of SIEM and combines it with SIRP (Security Incident Response Platforms) and TIP (Threat Intelligence Platforms) to create a robust, automated system that uses “machine readable and stateful security data to provide reporting, analysis, and management capabilities to support operational security teams.”

In essence, SOAR goes above and beyond simple SIEM solutions by seamlessly combining the strengths of SIEM, SIRP, and TIP and overcoming the drawbacks that these individual systems present on their own.

Instead of simply monitoring your company’s network for potential threats and sending out alerts when necessary SOAR analyzes the data it gathers to measure risk and help your security team make informed decisions about what to do with the information that the automated system has provided them with.

The goal of SOAR is to give companies the tools their internal cybersecurity teams need to adequately protect digital company assets in a continually evolving threat landscape.

The Three Pillars of SOAR

The Three Pillars of SOAR

SOAR relies on three primary technologies:

  • Threat and vulnerability management: This allows the SOAR system to proactively look for vulnerabilities, and assess them so that workflow, reporting, and collaboration protocols can be streamlined and put in place.
  • Security incident response: Once a credible threat has been detected and reported to the appropriate parties SOAR helps your internal cybersecurity team create a plan, as well as manage, track, and coordinate a robust response across teams and departments so that your company can respond to the security incident quickly and effectively.
  • Security operations automation: Once the threat has been dealt with SOAR will help your team by automating, streamlining, and orchestrating workflows, processes, policy execution, and reporting so that your company can gather the information it needs to analyze your response and craft appropriate reports effectively.

Crafting Robust Cybersecurity Protocols with SOAR

Crafting a Robust Cybsersecurity Strategy With SOAR

SOAR makes it easier for any organization to respond to a cybersecurity threat by gathering the appropriate data, analyzing it, and adding context to it. This further allows SOAR to help your team craft a robust and effective plan for neutralizing the threat and addressing any vulnerabilities that were exploited.

This makes it possible for your team to prioritize security activities, formalize and automate incident response processes, and craft detailed and comprehensive reports after the incident has been dealt with.

Though no true SOAR solutions exist yet, Gartner expects that companies and other organizations with at least five security professionals on staff will reach an adoption level of about 15% by 2020. However, that doesn’t mean that individual companies can’t start working towards SOAR right now.

To help improve your cybersecurity responses your organization should focus on improving metrics that provide an immediate return on investment, such as programs that reduce detection times. You should also look into automating simple, routine tasks, crafting robust and coordinated incident response protocols, and relying on trustworthy sources for information on threat intelligence.There is no way to completely eliminate risk when it comes to cybersecurity, but those risks can be significantly reduced with the right tools combined with reliable, expert advice.

For more information about what your organization can do to improve your cybersecurity protocols by moving towards a SOAR approach, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.

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