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How Automation is Reshaping IT Security

IT Industry Findings

Today’s IT security teams are understaffed and as a result, overworked. According to the findings of Staffing the IT Security Function in the Age of Automation: A Study of Organizations in the United States, United Kingdom and APAC, automation provides the IT security team with much needed support in preventing, detecting and containing cyberattacks. In fact, 79 percent of respondents either use automation currently or plan to in the near future.

Ponemon Institute, with sponsorship from DomainTools, surveyed more than 1,400 IT and IT security practitioners in the US, UK and APAC who participate in recruiting, hiring, promoting IT security personnel within their organizations. Most of the respondents are IT directors, managers, or IT system analysts.

The following findings reveal how automation is reshaping IT security to improve its ability to mitigate threats and maximize the effectiveness of the IT security team.

  • Enhances the ability of the IT security team to prioritize threats and vulnerabilities (49 percent of respondents).
  • Increases the productivity of current security personnel (47 percent of respondents).
  • Supports the IT security team’s efforts to monitor threats. Sixty-three percent of respondents say their organization does not have enough staff to monitor threats on a 24/7 basis.

While almost one-third of respondents believe they may lose their job in the next few years because of the growing use of automation, the research indicates this will not be the case. In fact, most respondents believe the adoption of automation will not lead to a reduction in headcount for the following reasons.

  • Automation is not capable of performing certain tasks that the IT security team can do (65 percent of respondents).
  • Automation will never replace human intuition and hands-on experience.
  • An experienced IT security team is essential to manage automation. Fifty-six percent of respondents say not having such expertise is a barrier to the adoption of automation.

The research also reveals interesting differences among the countries and regions represented in the study. These include the following:

  • Respondents in the US are far more positive than the UK and APAC that automation will increase the need to hire expert IT security staff.
  • The US, UK, and APAC all agree that the prevention of downtime or business disruptions is the main driver to the adoption of automation.
  • US respondents are most likely to believe attackers are increasing their use of automation.

We hope you will read our report and look forward to our comments and feedback.