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Usage of Security Analytics on the Rise, Finds SANS’ Survey

January 2017 by SANS INSTITUTE

Cyber security professionals have become more aware of the value of analytics and have moved beyond using analytics for detection and response to using analytics to measure and improve their overall risk posture, according to the results of SANS’ 2016 Survey on Security Analytics.

"Traditionally, cyber security has been focused around protection and prevention. But with the growing complexity of the threat landscape, businesses are realizing the need to take a more proactive approach," explained Ned Baltagi, Managing Director, Middle East & Africa at SANS. "Organizations are now tapping into the wealth of data being generated by their security infrastructures and using this to identify patterns, uncover vulnerabilities and stay one step ahead of would be attackers."

In the survey, only 11% of survey respondents either don’t use analytics or don’t know that they do. Of the 44% who were able to quantify improvements, 17% reported increased visibility into actual events or breaches, and 11% reported improved detection of unknown threats, with an equal percentage noting reduced duration of events.

As in previous SANS surveys on security analytics, the greatest impediments to implementing analytics and reaping the advantages of security analytics continue to be lack of qualified staff and funding/resources to implement programs. Because of these shortcomings, 49% have prioritized investment in personnel/training, 42% are looking to make detection and security operations centre upgrades and 29% plan to invest in integrating incident response into their analytics programs in the coming years.

"One of the best ways to overcome shortages in staffing and funding is through automation," said SANS senior instructor and author of the report, Dave Shackleford. "Machine learning offers insights that could help less-skilled analysts with faster detection, automatic reuse of patterns detected and more, leading to related improvements in risk posture."

In this survey, 54% of respondents rated their programs as being "Fairly automated," while only 4% considered their programs to be fully automated. Unfortunately, only 22% said they deployed machine analytics to enable better, faster decision making, while 54% said their programs did not use machine learning as part of their analytics programs, and 24% didn’t know.

"Analytics are an absolute necessity in today’s threat environment and it is encouraging to see that IT teams are making positive advances in this regard. But while results show an increasing usage, our survey highlights that there is still much room for improvement in the use of security analytics," concluded Baltagi.




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