Cybersecurity in today’s climate is not a linear process. Organizations can’t simply implement a single tool or strategy to be protected from all threats and challenges. Instead, they must implement the right strategies and technologies for the organization’s specific needs and level of accepted risks. However, once the dive into today’s best practices and strategies begins, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed with SOAR, SIEM, SASE and Zero Trust — especially since they almost all start with the letter S.
At first glance, it feels like the concepts are very similar. But while there is some overlap, these strategies work together by managing or overseeing different parts of cybersecurity. Some layer on top of each other, and others work collaboratively. Most organizations find that they can most effectively protect their infrastructure by combining the four technologies together.
Let’s take a look at these four common cybersecurity concepts and how they work.
With remote work now a permanent shift, organizations cannot protect a physical perimeter — because it does not exist. Zero trust is an organization-wide philosophy that assumes the network is always at risk for both internal and external threats. With this approach, you can proactively protect your organization regardless of the physical location of the infrastructure, users and devices. As a default, all resources are inaccessible, and accessing them requires proving one’s credentials.
With zero trust, you apply the principle of least privilege access to every aspect of IT. That means each person only has the access that they need for their own work-related tasks. When granting access, the framework assumes the user, app or device requesting access is unauthorized and must prove their credentials. Zero trust networks always log/inspect all corporate network traffic, limit/control access to the network, and verify/secure network resources.
Zero trust is first on this list because it’s the underlying foundation of cybersecurity that provides the most protection and risk reduction in the current cybersecurity environment. While the other technologies provide different benefits, SOAR and SIEM work on top of zero trust, and SASE partners side-by-side with zero trust.
Protecting an organization from cybersecurity threats requires a lot of collaboration between people and tools. Many organizations are turning to security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR) technology to meet this need. Gartner defines SOAR products as platforms with threat and vulnerability management, security incident response and security operations automation.
With a single platform to manage all security processes, cybersecurity teams have all the intelligence and tools needed to proactively prevent attacks and minimize damage when they occur. Additionally, by automating cybersecurity tasks, organizations free up time for team members to focus on tasks that require a human touch.
Many people assume zero trust is a single piece of technology. However, zero trust is a framework comprising different strategies typically implemented by cybersecurity automation and tools. SOAR provides the platform that manages the different strategies, such as PAM and micro-segmentation, that create the zero trust framework. As part of its move towards zero trust, the Biden administration is requiring government agencies to use SOAR technology to help connect the pillars of zero trust.
With cyber criminals working 24/7, organizations need the ability to continuously monitor their infrastructure for signs of potential threats or risks. Security information and event management software (SIEM) uses AI to watch for changes and patterns matching current threats and proactively provides alerts on potential cybersecurity issues. Because each alert takes the IT team away from other tasks, it’s crucial to have a tool that prioritizes alerts, so the team knows where to focus their limited time and resources. Additionally, SIEM tools need to integrate with other tools and technologies.
Creating an environment of “never trust, always verify” can easily turn into an overwhelming experience for users and employees. And IT teams can quickly become overwhelmed when it comes to managing these environments. By using SIEM as part of zero trust, organizations have the necessary visibility and security without disrupting the experience.
While SIEM and SOAR are both cybersecurity tools, they perform different roles in protecting infrastructure and data. SIEM focuses on identifying and logging events, while SOAR manages all cybersecurity tools — including SIEM. For example, if a SIEM detects a potential issue, SOAR can take automated action based on AI, such as removing access for a suspicious user or isolating a malicious file. Without SOAR, a SIEM system can create additional manual work for the IT team and make it challenging to take the quick actions needed to protect the network.
As both security and business needs rapidly change, organizations need the ability to quickly scale their cybersecurity efforts. By using secure access service edge (SASE), organizations have a cloud architecture that combines network and security-as-a-service functions. Gartner explains that SASE’s capabilities are “based on the identity of the entity, real-time context and security/compliance policies.”
At first glance, SASE and zero trust appear very similar. However, SASE helps vendors design security solutions for the future, while zero trust reduces business risk across the infrastructure. The technologies work together to manage the permissions that expose apps, systems and data to risks using micro-segmentation and software-defined perimeter (SDP) tech. They also partner to protect browser software from malicious websites, with zero trust protecting the endpoint’s browser software and SASE remotely isolating suspicious website code.
Putting It All Together
Moving from the traditional approach of protecting the perimeter to a proactive strategy that protects your modern data infrastructure requires the right tools. As you begin designing your cybersecurity, consider starting with a zero trust framework and then adding SOAR, SIEM and SASE to help support the zero trust principles. Each one plays a key role in helping protect your infrastructure, apps and data. When you create an ecosystem that collaborates and works together, you can get the most value and protection from your cybersecurity technology.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a freelance B2B technology content marketing writer specializing in cybersecurity. Other areas of focus include B2B, finance, tec...