Guide: Alert Overload and Handling for Lean IT Security Teams

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Alarming research reveals the stress and strains the average cybersecurity team experiences on a daily basis. As many as 70% of teams report feeling emotionally overwhelmed by security alerts. These alerts are so intense, fast-paced, and frequent that it can become a source of extreme stress. People’s lives can be negatively affected by these alerts. Security professionals are at risk from alert overload. It’s worse for all who depend on cybersecurity.

This is a gigantic issue in the industry, yet few people even acknowledge it, let alone deal with it. Cynet aims to correct that in this guide (download here), starting by shining a light on the cause of the problem and the full extent of its consequences and then offering a few ways lean security teams can pull their analysts out of the ocean of false positives and get them back to shore. It includes tips on how to reduce alerts using automation and shares guidance for organizations that are considering outsourcing their managed detection and response (MDR). This guide also explains how security teams can untangle all the security tools required for automation.

Solving alert overload

Security teams of all sizes need to reduce the number of alerts they encounter and refine how they respond to alerts to take action before the damage starts. Here are some tips that security teams can employ to respond to thousands more alerts, particularly if they’re small.

1 Consider outsourcing to MDR: Outsourcing managed detection and response (MDR) is a good option if you need to scale quickly and don’t have the resources. MDRs can help reduce stress and give your team time back. Cost is another consideration. It is important to spend time finding the right MDR for your company. As the guide shows, outsourcing can absolutely be an asset. It’s not a perfect solution.

2 Strategize reducing alerts: It starts with strategy. Look at your existing tech and make sure you’ve optimized their settings and your tools are calibrated. It’s not so important to reduce alerts, but how your team responds.

For example, you might find ways to speed up the process of investigating alerts you are unable to eliminate or combine. One way is to correlate alarms with known activities, like when a planned patch installation disables security tools in bulk as the system recycles. The security team might want to be notified at any other moment that security tools have gone offline. However, there is an easy explanation for this during patching. Calibrating tools to “quiet” alerts during known events or scheduled times will give the security team more time to focus on the actual emergencies.

3 Introducing automated response: Even the leanest security teams can tackle threats if they use automation. Automation allows security teams to respond to alerts at scale quickly. However, automation can be difficult to setup properly.

We need to be careful about automated responses that block legitimate and malicious traffic. This is a downside of machine learning-driven automated response. This can cause problems for both the security team as well as users across the company. It can be difficult to reverse the damage caused by automated processes if they aren’t documented. The guide suggests new ways to solve this problem as well.

4 Use tools that facilitate automation: Setting up automation is not a ‘walk in the park’ because of the abundance of security and IT solutions that need to be integrated (for example, IPS, NDR, EPP, firewalls, DNS filtering, and more.). The key is to know how to put all of these tools in one place – and the guide suggests new ways to do just that.

If you want to find out more and learn how to stop alert overload, download the guide here.

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