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What is security automation?

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Security automation is the use of technology that performs tasks with reduced human assistance in order to integrate security processes, applications, and infrastructure.

IT security

IT security protects the integrity of technology ecosystems—like computer systems, networks, and data—from internal or external attack, damage, or unauthorized access.

It's an umbrella term that includes network, internet, endpoint, application programming interfaces (APIs), cloud, application, container security, and more.

IT security is about establishing a set of security strategies that work together to help protect data.

Automation

Automation is the use of technology to perform repeatable tasks with minimal human assistance, which can reduce manual errors and improve efficiency. Automation helps you streamline processes and scale environments, as well as build continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment (CI/CD) workflows. There are many kinds of automation: IT automation, infrastructure automation, business automation, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and more. 

Automation solutions for IT systems can allow your IT teams more time to focus on complex projects instead of routine, repetitive tasks such as provisioning and scripting. For example, Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform—a subscription product that includes all the tools needed to implement enterprise-wide automation—includes hundreds of pre-built playbooks, which are blueprints of automation tasks. Playbooks contain 2 or more plays; plays contain 1 or more tasks; and every task is executed by a module, which is a type of script.

This automated alternative eliminates the need to execute security tasks one command at a time and there are modules that support many different security providers. Another example is cloud service provisioning, which is the self-service component of cloud computing. With automation, users can obtain cloud services through a customizable self-service portal, without requiring the help of IT staff. 

As infrastructure and networks grow in size and complexity, it becomes increasingly difficult to manually manage security and compliance. Additionally, as more and more of the workforce has become distributed or is working from home, keeping track of the ever-growing number of devices connected to the network can be daunting.

In this complex environment, manual operations can result in slower detection and remediation of issues, errors in resource configuration, and inconsistent policy application, leaving your systems vulnerable to compliance issues and attack. This can lead to unplanned and expensive downtime and overall reduced functionality.

Automation can help you streamline daily operations as well as integrate security into IT infrastructure, processes, hybrid cloud structures, and applications (or apps) from the start. Fully deploying security automation can even reduce the average cost of a breach by 95%.

Threat hunting

Fast threat detection can reduce the likelihood that your organization will experience a security breach and minimize the associated costs if a breach occurs. Manual processes can delay threat identification in complex IT environments, leaving your business vulnerable. Applying automation to your security processes can help you identify, validate, and escalate threats faster, without manual intervention.

Security incident response

Detecting and containing security breaches within 200 days or less reduces the average cost of a breach by US$1.22 million. However, remediation across your ecosystem of platforms, applications, and tools—throughout their entire life cycles—can be complicated, time-consuming, and error-prone when performed manually. Security teams can use automation to rapidly apply remediation to affected systems, create security tools that work concurrently across your environment, and respond to incidents faster. Automation can simplify the operation and maintenance of a variety of solutions that help to detect threats and respond to incidents, like security information and event management (SIEM) software and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS).

Endpoint protection

Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP) detect, investigate, and remediate malicious activities on endpoint devices—the most numerous and vulnerable elements of an IT infrastructure. Unified automation solutions—like Ansible Automation Platform—enable the integration of EPP tools into larger security processes that provide event-driven detection, quarantining, and remediation.

Automate governance, risk, and compliance processes with Policy as Code

Building on the strategic foundation of Infrastructure as Code (IaC), organizations are beginning to use these practices to automate IT processes at every stage of the operational life cycle. Just as IaC standardizes the build, provisioning, and deployment of infrastructure, IT teams can adopt Ops as Code and Policy as Code to codify the management, maintenance, and governance of systems after they are deployed.

Learn how

Many organizations have adopted automation platforms to streamline and scale IT security. Security teams can automate the collection of logs across firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDSs), and other security systems; the creation of new IDS rules to detect more threats in less time; the blocking and allowing of IP addresses; and the isolation of suspicious workloads. 

 

IDC interviewed multiple decision-makers about their experiences with automation and found that each organization realized significant productivity, agility, and operational benefits through automation, making IT security teams 25% more efficient.

Because while open source technology inherently responds faster to threats than proprietary technology—thanks to thousands of open-source community contributors—enterprise open source products tend to have even higher security standards. Red Hat and our security partner ecosystem bring a comprehensive DevSecOps approach to help organizations continue to innovate without sacrificing security.

Enterprise open source software uses a development model that enhances testing and performance tuning—usually with a security team that stands behind it—processes for responding to new security vulnerabilities, and protocols to notify users about security issues with remediation steps. It's an enhanced version of the open source web of trust that makes sure you're never alone when it comes to IT security.

Red Hat Advanced Cluster Security for Kubernetes automates DevSecOps best practices across the full application development life cycle: build, deploy, runtime. The platform works with any Kubernetes environment and integrates with DevOps and security tools, helping teams address security earlier in the development cycle by equipping developers with security guardrails and automated checks.

With Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, you can automate and integrate different security solutions that can respond to threats across the enterprise in a coordinated, unified way, using a curated collection of modules, roles, and playbooks—all included in Ansible Content Collections. With access to hundreds of modules that enable users to automate all aspects of IT environments and processes, Ansible Automation Platform can help security teams work collaboratively and more completely protect complex security perimeters.

With a Red Hat subscription, you get certified content from our robust partner ecosystem, access to hosted management services, and life cycle technical support that allows your teams to create, manage, and scale automation across your organization. And you’ll get expert knowledge gained from our success with thousands of customers.

Keep reading

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Learning Ansible basics

Ansible automates IT processes like provisioning and configuration management. Learn the basics of Ansible with this introduction to key concepts.

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An Ansible Playbook is a blueprint of automation tasks, which are IT actions executed with limited manual effort across an inventory of IT solutions.

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