Guest author: Nenad Zaric, CEO and co-founder, Trickest

Automated AI solutions have been around for over a decade in the cybersecurity space. However, their use has been confined to very surface-level areas—it’s time this changed. With the recent advancements in generative AI, the technology has proven to have a higher ceiling for application, including time-consuming yet vital processes like cyber discovery.

In fact, organizations that automate cyber defense mechanisms will experience a 66% reduction in security breaches by 2026. So, it’s evident that automation will become the norm for many cybersecurity processes. This is especially important given the more targeted and aggressive attacks, such as advanced persistent threats (APTs), that have been launched in the past year.

APTs make cybersecurity much murkier. If a company experiences an attack of this nature, they’re as good as gone; the sophistication of these threats can penetrate the most robust systems when mildly overlooked. One of many examples from last year is the malicious actors that targeted highly secure USBs, gaining access to government data via APTs by subtly infecting and taking over every device they connected them to.

Here’s where more advanced automation comes in to keep APTs at bay. Let’s see how adopting these new practices can highly benefit your security team and business.

Faster and more controlled threat intelligence turnarounds

The APT protection market is set to grow by a staggering 18% annually until 2032 when it will be worth $51.5 billion. The increasing severity of these attacks is what’s driving CISOs to spend more of their budget protecting their company’s attack surfaces — starting with proper threat intelligence and asset discovery methods.

Automation can speed up asset discovery, and time is of the essence when it comes to data security. A typical discovery process for a company of around 10,000 employees would take a security team a couple of days to finish. By automating this process, the timeline plummets to just one day. 

Instead of outsourcing this process to cybersecurity companies, in-house security teams can cut the middleman and use threat intelligence tools to automate the discovery process for them. This is possible with SaaS programs that use open source and proprietary codes to create a workflow, allowing companies to run tailored discovery as often as they see fit.

The time difference between manual and automated can be a costly APT attack or a safe system.

More precise and accurate discovery to bridge the skills gap

You wouldn’t begin securing your systems without knowing exactly what needs to be done. It would be a waste of both time and money. This is why discovery is so crucial to threat intelligence and successful cybersecurity practices — it’s the foundation for protecting attack surfaces. And for discovery to be worthwhile, it must be done right.

However, the cybersecurity talent shortage is making it harder for companies to properly protect their systems, especially when 71% of organizations are being affected by the lack of professionals globally. Automation is helping bridge this gap and giving companies peace of mind for their foundational cybersecurity strategies.

By using threat intelligence SaaS tools that automate discovery, security teams can forego a discovery expert while knowing this crucial piece of the puzzle is still being handled with precision and accuracy by an AI workflow. APTs don’t let up, and minimal human error could open the gates for malicious actors to break in and set up shop. 

Increased human power in other specialized activities

CISOs highly agree that human error is their organization’s biggest cyber vulnerability. Discovery can be a very time-consuming task, and human processes can become faulty at any point in the job. Now that threat intelligence automation is a more accessible and developed practice, security leaders shouldn’t have to place their human power in these intensive and often flawed activities.

After adopting SaaS tools for discovery, security teams will rest assured their discovery needs will be handled by software that takes less time and significantly reduces errors in threat detection. What will this translate to? More time applying threat intelligence data into more robust security protocols like vulnerability prioritization and remediation, meeting data security compliance requirements, and other activities that require human input. 

Keeping APTs away from your company encompasses several steps in your cybersecurity practices. Automation is making it easier for security teams to spend their time on valuable activities while others run on AI workflows with less margin for errors. In this new age of AI and automation, these tools are becoming more affordable and user-friendly to address skills shortages and the increase in complex cyber attacks.

Ultimately, automating certain tasks is a win-win for security teams, budgeting, and cybersecurity measures — bringing in convenience, precision, and affordability.

Nenad Zaric is the CEO and co-founder at Trickest, a cybersecurity platform to build and execute offensive security automation workflows.