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Automation Rules inside Azure Sentinel

 Nowadays, automation is part of our day-to-day life. To be able to react to security incidents, it is not enough to detect them. We need a mechanism that can trigger an action when an incident is detected. 

Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native SIEM (security information and event manager) that analyze what is happening inside your organization and can detect a possible security breach. Azure Sentinel can automatically raise an alert when an incident occurs.

This is not enough, and to increase the SOC efficiency, reduce the response time and the no. of resources that you have available, you need to be able to implement SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation and Response) on top of it. 

Automation is the keyword here; we can now do it inside Azure Sentinel using Automation Rules. 

Except for an alert and running a playbook the automation rules allow us to react to multiple analytics rules at once and automatically assign or close incidents. It is a mechanism that enables us to do the orchestration, incident orchestration, on top of Azure Sentinel. Complex workflows for different types of incidents can now be defined and part of Azure Sentinel directly. 

The running and trigger SLAs for automation rules that we define and the playbooks trigger are under a few seconds and take into account how you define the rule and how long each playbook takes. 

As we expected when we define automation rules there are the following components:

  • Trigger
  • Conditions
  • Actions
  • Order
  • Expiration date
The expiration date is a nice feature that makes our life much easier especially when we run a security test (e.g. penetration testing) or we have a time window for specific activities. For example, during a penetration test, we might want to define automation that changes the severity to low and automatically close the incident. This can be achieved easily using the expiration date and the order component. Without automation rules, incident suppression is not easily achieved during penetration testing, especially in the production environment. 

With automation rules, we have the ability to reuse the playbooks. For example, we could have a playbook that automatically generates a ticket inside ServiceNow and do automatically assignment of incidents taking into account the SOC specialization and who is on-call at that moment in time. 

The last thing that I want to mention is the tagging capability. It enables us to add tags to each incident. Useful for larger organizations, where you want to filter the incidents on your own custom tags and rules. 

Don't forget that at this moment in time (Oct 2021), automation rules are still in public preview. Play with them in non-production env. and be ready to push them to PROD once they are GA (General Availability)

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