Boosting security with robotic process automation

Cybersecurity platforms and tools already automate many threat identification and response processes, but human professionals still play critical roles. RPA can further speed and improve cyber defenses by automating some of the people-based tasks.

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Automating manual processes with software robots can improve company productivity, reduce errors, boost revenues, and deliver a wide range of additional benefits. One of the most compelling and important applications of robotic process automation (RPA), however, is within the realm of cybersecurity.

It’s no secret that cyber threats have grown dramatically in volume, diversity, and consequence in recent years. Ransomware attacks in particular have been prolific of late, but they are just one form of cyber assault, joining everything from distributed denial of service attacks to cyber espionage to intellectual property theft. As organizations – and even national economies –become digitally based and dependent, criminals, hackers, spies, and a host of other bad actors have no shortage of attractive targets.

Despite the wide variety of cyber attack types and objectives, successfully defending against all of them involves a common attribute: speed. The faster an incoming attack can be identified, the faster it can be successfully blocked. When cyber breaches do occur, mitigating their impact as quickly as possible can minimize their damage, while rapidly performing forensics and building new defenses can thwart future attacks.

The volume and scope of cyber attacks long ago surpassed the ability of human security analysts on their own to monitor network traffic to spot and counter known attack signature patterns. That’s why one of the main trends within cybersecurity systems and tools has been to automate threat identification and response processes, increasingly with the support of artificial intelligence capabilities.

Despite the increasing automation of security controls, however, the processes automated are typically high-level workflows that are common to all cyber defense scenarios and organizations. Beneath these universal processes are dozens, if not hundreds, of more discrete and individualized processes performed by the people who still play critical roles in the end-to-end cyber defense workflow. For example, security analysts and other professionals must often make final determinations about the seriousness of potential risks, must determine the appropriate level of response, and must interact with the digital security infrastructure in a variety of other ways.

Most organizations, for example, would prefer to have humans make the decision to shut down a mission-critical, but potentially compromised, server, rather than having an AI-based security control automatically take it offline.

Given that people will continue to have roles to play in many cyber defense scenarios, it makes sense to make their involvement as efficient and effective as possible. That’s where RPA can bring significant benefits by automating many of the manual processes these professionals still use, while allowing them to weigh in with their own knowledge and insight at critical junctures.

Of course, while RPA can add an important layer of automation to the overall cybersecurity workflow, it’s important to ensure that the RPA platform itself is secure. In addition, the platform should integrate well with user authentication and authorization systems and other existing security controls to ensures the security of any manual processes it automates.

UiPath places a high priority on the security credentials and capabilities of its own RPA platform, which growing numbers of UiPath customers are using to bolster their cybersecurity defenses and responses. For details on how UiPath addresses security in its own operations and products, see this overview.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.