How to Decrease Alert Fatigue While Increasing SOC Efficiency

Cyberattacks are continuing to increase, while high numbers of false alerts are dragging down your SOC team’s efficiency.

Dealing with an onslaught of security alerts may feel like you are trying to keep up with an assembly line that is continuously speeding up, with more parts constantly being added to the process.

Thankfully, you can implement solutions that reduce false alerts and improve the speed and efficacy of your SOC when it comes to known and unknown threats, including zero-day threats. This can lead to better productivity and job satisfaction, as well as improved protection. BluVector offers progressive technology that is built for optimizing your alert level and enhancing your workflow, making your current SOC team even more efficient.

Trying to Keep Up with Traffic

If you feel you have too many alerts to investigate properly, you are not alone. More than half of security teams typically receive over 500 alerts in a day. Of those, 20%-40% are false alarms.1 It can take up to 30 minutes to investigate each alert, regardless of whether it is a false or actual alarm.2 The time spent researching false alerts amounts to time that your team could be spending on more critical issues.

The inundation of false alerts is happening as the cybersecurity industry faces a workforce shortage. Demand for this career is increasing, making it difficult to find available, qualified workers. The average security staff turnover rate is 20%, and your newly trained worker may only stick around for a couple of years.3 In addition, seasoned, mature workers are looking to retire. Lack of staffing creates more demand in an already stressful situation.

Large alert volumes, fatigue from false alerts, and low staffing levels contribute to the possibility of missing actual threats. The percentage of unresearched alerts can range from 23% to 44%.4,5 Over 90% of teams cannot investigate all their alerts on the same day, while around a third struggle to research at least half of their alerts daily.6 In one survey, over half of the respondents reported that critical security alerts were being missed.1

In addition to the financial risk that missed alerts present to an organization, feelings of frustration and burnout can increase among workers from chasing so many dead-end leads and worrying about the high-stakes consequences of failure to find actual threats. About two thirds of cybersecurity professionals took time off due to work stress and considered leaving their jobs.7 Almost half of chief information security officers (CISOs) missed major holidays or doctor appointments due to work demands, and a quarter did not take any time off in a year.8

Facing the Risk (and Cost) of Missed Alerts

SOC teams are aware of what can happen when a real threat is missed. A well-known data breach affecting a large retailer is one example of a missed threat due to alert fatigue. That team was experiencing a volume of 40,000 alerts per day.9

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it was previously estimated that cybercriminal activity would cost the world $6 trillion by 2021. The estimate has held, and the amount is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.10 Another report suggests that a major cyberattack on a critical provider could be more costly than a natural disaster.11,12

Reducing False Alerts and Increasing Efficiency

The good news is that there are a variety of steps you can take to minimize the risks of missing valid alerts. These steps include:

  • automating wherever possible
  • enhancing the context for alerts
  • leveraging historical knowledge
  • prioritizing and tuning alert levels
  • and paying attention to the health of your workers

Machines can augment your existing cybersecurity framework, and help increase the speed and efficacy of your cyber security experts whose time may be taken up by repetitive, manual tasks. Using your system to automate as much of your process as possible is a good first step. This reduces the chance for error, speeds up the process, and takes some stress off your employees.

For example, you can leverage machine learning to propose the areas that are most at risk, based on computerized research and patterns. It is like having thousands of assistants preparing all the data about an alert and putting it in front of you on the screen in real time, so you and your team can decide quickly and wisely about a critical situation.

It is possible for your tool to tell you where all the devices involved in a situation are located. Events just before and after an alert can be automatically shown. Your tool can display the analyses done by integrations all in one place. Serving up all the relevant information quickly saves time for each alert that you need to investigate.

You can also:

  • tune your system so that you only receive the alerts and logs that you need
  • use allowlists to remove known noise from the generated alerts
  • conduct tests and threat hunting to ensure detecting zero-day threats
  • and configure settings so that alerts are prioritized, and your team is focused on the most important issues

Using BluVector Features to Improve Your Workflow

BluVector AI-based products were built to make your SOC more efficient by delivering high efficacy threat detection of known and unknown threats. From auto-tuning to machine learning and enriched data, the product features streamline your workflow and increase speed of detection.

The BluVector Advanced Threat Detection™ system sifts through your incoming network traffic at line speed, performing multiple forms of analysis. The machine learning engine uses knowledge gained from a decade of experience with known file patterns to suggest which events are associated with the most risk. The results are displayed along with the relevant contextual data you need for deciding whether to investigate (see Figure 1). Bulk adjudication is supported to get you running faster. The machine engine learns how to customize alerts to get the best performance based on your normal traffic. Because of machine learning, BluVector can detect malware before it has been officially identified and signatures distributed. If your team members need further assistance while investigating a possible threat, they have access to the BluVector security analysis team.

Figure 1. Targeted Logger Showing Context Surrounding Suspicious Event

The second part of BluVector Network Detection and Response platform, Automated Threat Hunting™, also operates at line speed and searches your network for possible breaches that may have happened. Multiple analyzers of behavior connect the dots of activity to discover potential cyber campaigns. You can examine a visualization of a possible campaign like a movie, stepping forward and backward to see the entities involved, along with their actions categorized according to the MITRE ATT&CK® framework (see Figure 2). You can browse all the entities on your network sorted by a calculated risk score for a selected point in time. Allowlisting can remove alerts for known safe situations to reduce your alert volume.

Figure 2. Campaign Replay Visualization Screen

Taking Action

Alert fatigue contributes to the challenging task of finding and investigating real threats from within an overwhelming number of alerts containing many false alarms. Worker shortages and increasing cybercrime only add to the stress.

Tuning your alerts and taking actions can improve your work environment to make your SOC more efficient. BluVector can also help with the speed and efficacy of detecting cyber threats. Contact us to schedule a meeting or a demo with an expert and learn more about the BluVector platform.

References

1 https://virtualizationreview.com/articles/2022/03/22/alert-fatigue.aspx
2 https://www.criticalstart.com/resources/in-cybersecurity-every-alert-matters/
3 https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2022/01/31/cybersecurity-teams-retention-issues/
4 https://www.criticalstart.com/resources/in-cybersecurity-every-alert-matters/
5 https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2021/02/17/6-strategies-to-reduce-cybersecurity-alert-fatigue-in-your-soc/
6 https://www.sumologic.com/blog/2020-state-of-secops-automation-report/
7 https://www.vmware.com/resources/security/global-incident-response-threat-report-manipulating-reality.html
8 https://www.benefitnews.com/news/cybersecurity-teams-are-burned-out-and-missing-the-holidays
9 https://www.logichub.com/blog/reducing-alert-fatigue-automation
10 https://cybersecurityventures.com/annual-cybercrime-report-2020/
11 https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2021/06/28/the-economic-costs-of-cyber-risk/
12 https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/560604-report-estimates-major-cyberattack-could-cost-more-than-recovering-from/

Team member
Threat Team
BluVector’s Threat Report is written by BluVector’s expert security team, tasked with identifying the latest cybersecurity threats in the wild and when our solutions would protect customers from those threats.

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