Fighting Off Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue: Are Your SIEM and SOAR Optimized?

A Security Orchestration, Automation & Response (SOAR) system is the engine of your security operations center (SOC) process. But is your SOAR causing more problems than it’s solving?

You depend on your SOAR to collect information and tell your analysts about attacks and other anomalous behavior in the network. But if your SOAR is not properly tuned, it can do more harm than good. Your analysts get lost in a sea of cyber security alerts, many of which are false positives. Without the right solution in place to build context around alerts and make informed SOAR tuning decisions, alerts are just burning analysts out and hiding real security threats.

What Is Cybersecurity Alert Fatigue?

SOCs take in more telemetry every day. As your business grows, you add more machines, more networks, and more security tools. This means more alerts are coming in. Not all of those alerts are useful. According to an IDC/FireEye study, 45% of alerts coming into the SOC are false positives. With so many false positives, alerts start to feel meaningless. This is cybersecurity alert fatigue.

Alert fatigue can lead directly to compromise. With so much noise, identifying meaningful alerts in the SOC can feel like a wild goose chase, and security analysts get discouraged or burned out. When the queue is full, 34% of internal SOC teams and 44% of managed services SOC teams start to ignore cyber security alerts: in each case, a higher percentage than the fraction of SOC teams who respond by tuning the SOAR as well as the SIEM. This means real security incidents go undetected.

SOC leaders need to find a way to prevent alert fatigue while improving the SOC’s ability to prevent and respond to attacks. Fortunately, this is not a question of spending more money, buying more tools, and allocating more staff. You need a way to regularly test and tune your SIEM so it works the way it is meant to, before either attackers or alert fatigue strike.

How to Reduce Alert Fatigue

At its best, your SOAR is a valuable contributor to your cyber readiness: your level of ability to face and defeat real threats. To conquer alert fatigue, you need to make SIEM alerts and SOAR processes work for you. You need to constantly optimize both to make sure you are getting actionable, usable information from it. This includes collecting reliable metrics around the efficiency of your SIEM and SOAR, identifying what can be optimized, tuning those rules and procedures, and repeating this process over time in order to detect and respond to threats efficiently.

Effective Testing with “Live Fire”

You need to know how your SIEM and SOAR respond under attack: what alerts it produces, and whether the rules are tuned well enough to detect those alerts as an incident. Many businesses do not know whether their SIEM and SOAR platforms are doing this until they are actually attacked. But then, if their they are not properly tuned to detect a particular attack, it is too late.

This underscores the importance of testing. You should test your SIEM and SOAR regularly with live-fire attacks that resemble real-world threats. That way, you get a clearer idea of how well you actually detects attacks, implement necessary adjustments, and retest without having to wait until attackers strike.

Regular and Effective Tuning

Tuning is an iterative process, not a single action. Once you change or refine a rule, you must then identify how the change affects your ability to detect and respond to real threats. In response to those findings, you can perform more tuning and evaluate the result again. As with any other process in the SOC designed to increase your readiness, there is no comfortable endpoint. Instead, there is a continuous process of becoming better prepared to defeat attackers.

From Alert Fatigue to Cyber Readiness

Defeating alert fatigue requires knowing what your SIEM and SOAR are doing for you, and what changes to make in order to make it work more efficiently. The SightGain Continuous Readiness Platform is the only cyber solution that lets you perform live-fire testing against your environment and then collects and presents the empirical data you need to track and improve your readiness to face real cyber threats.

Learn more about what SightGain has to offer, and see for yourself how SightGain can give you the data you need to optimize the technology, processes, and people in your SOC.