Mastering the Alert Storm – The Security Alert Management Process 

Securing a home mortgage for a residential property can be an overwhelming experience given the sheer volume of paperwork involved. Amidst the myriad pages requiring your signature and initials, it’s easy to lose sight of the details you’re consenting to. This is where a closing attorney steps in to guide and elucidate. In today’s digital age, we often find ourselves rapidly signing off on various agreements, from car rentals and gym memberships to medical consent forms, without scrutinizing the fine print. This oversight can sometimes lead to unforeseen repercussions. 

Think of security alerts as that fine print at the end of the contractual agreement that we want to just gloss over. Faced with a deluge of security logs, it becomes challenging to discern the significance of each alert. While many may indicate routine activities or even generate false alarms, the true narrative emerges only when multiple events are correlated. Like connecting the dots in a larger picture, understanding security events in their broader context can reveal hidden patterns and threats. It is often only when events are properly correlated that the clarity of a threat is unveiled.  

Alert Fatigue 

For years, the prevailing approach to cybersecurity has been reactive, where a new threat prompts the acquisition of a new protective tool. All these tools create alerts, and the collective result is that IT personnel and security staff are overwhelmed with a constant stream of alerts and security events, resulting in alert fatigue. According to a 2021 report conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), alert fatigue is taking its toll. 

  • On average, security professionals spend 30 minutes addressing each legitimate alert, with an additional 32 minutes wasted on false alarms. 
  • In businesses with 500-1,499 employees, 27% of all alerts are either ignored or not investigated. 
  • For companies with 1,500-4,999 employees, this number rises to 30% and drops slightly to 23% for enterprises boasting 5,000 or more staff members. 

Tool Fragmentation 

One of the reasons why organizations have so many alerts is because they are generated by so many tools. Also referred to as tool sprawl, tool fragmentation describes a situation where an organization deploys multiple security tools and solutions, often from different vendors without a comprehensive or integrated strategy. More tools translate into more dashboards that personnel must toggle through and more policies to manage. Besides the gargantuan number of alerts generated, tool fragmentation also results in overlapping functionalities, increased complexity, and gaps in the organization’s security posture. In the end, upper management wonders why they aren’t getting the desired ROI on their cybersecurity investments. 

The Unrealized Costs of Security Alerts 

Security comes with a price tag. Investing in security tools, controls, and hiring seasoned cybersecurity experts can be heavy on the budget. However, not adequately safeguarding your business can result in costs like downtime, compliance fines, and potential litigation. Beneath the surface, however, lies additional costs that often go unnoticed. The cost of chasing alerts day by day takes a toll on the business in the form of inefficiency, dead time, and employee turnover. Without advanced automation, security monitoring is a trying endeavor with long term implications that erode the bottom line.  

The Security Alert Process 

So, what is the origin of these relentless alerts? It’s not as simple as a single step. Effective security alerts are the result of a meticulous and structured process. An alert can be generated by multiple events. These include a prescribed metric, a detected match against threat intelligence or an anomaly that is out of the ordinary. Those generated alerts must then be contextualized to understand the nature of the detected threat. Alerts are then aggregated and correlated by some type of intelligence system to correlate different events together. Once a prioritized threat is properly identified, a notification is sent to a security team for possible human verification. At that time, the cybersecurity team can take the appropriate actions to mitigate the threat.  

Vendor Consolidation 

A strategic approach to curbing tool sprawl begins with streamlining your vendor portfolio. According to a 2022 Gartner Survey, 75% of organizations are pursuing security vendor consolidation. The primary motivation of this is not financial as 65% of organizations listed improved risk posture as their motivation while only 29% consolidated to reduce spending on licensing. Simplifying your security landscape reduces the multiple vulnerable points that complexity often introduces, making it harder for hackers to exploit. 

Threat Intelligence

Threat intelligence is known as the bedrock of cybersecurity. It equips security teams with the foresight to identify and address high-priority threats before they disrupt operations. This knowledge is instrumental in filtering out insignificant alerts, significantly reducing false positives and conserving time and resources. By categorizing user behaviors and aligning adversarial tactics with frameworks like MITRE ATT&CK, teams gain a clearer perspective on which threats require immediate attention and which can be deprioritized. 

How a SOC Can Help

Many businesses don’t have the resources to formulate an effective threat intelligence initiative while others feel the uncertainty of what all those alerts even mean. A viable solution to this challenge is a security operations center (SOC), exemplified by CYREBRO. CYREBRO introduced the first SOC infrastructure with the aim to offer top-tier cybersecurity to businesses of every size to ensure fast and efficient responses to cyber threats and their mitigation. Its combination of intelligent automation and highly experienced security professionals provides an MDR solution that relieves the burden of alert fatigue on security and non-security systems, like Windows event logs and Microsoft 365. CYREBRO’s advanced capabilities include threat intelligence and threat hunting, forensic investigation, and incident response, providing a comprehensive detection and response solution.  

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