What is holding back security automation?

This is an interesting question to ponder and the context is around automation in general, not just focused in the application of automation in security. Taking a step back, automation has provided significant benefits in both our personal and professional lives. The washing machine and dishwasher were early examples of how “automation” allowed humans to perform higher level tasks and when those appliances became ubiquitous, people never turned back. I can recall moving “up” from the dorms to apartments to condominiums and into a house and once accustomed to these luxuries, it became extremely painful to not have them. (Imagine washing toddler's outfits by hand).

Professionally, the gains in automation are much more obvious. Although the QWERTY keyboard remains, mechanical typewriters evolved into supercomputers according to Moore's Law. Automation in an algorithmic or computational context yielded industry altering benefits and I do not recall stories of accountants fearful of losing their jobs with the change. Today, there is tremendous excitement (and nervousness) around the autonomous driving vehicles and this parallels the changes underway with automation in the security industry.

Ultimately, fear, specifically the fear of change, is what is holding back automation within information security. Time and time again, prospects tell us that they are worried about either losing control or employment, depending on who we talk to. Automation does create change, mostly on purpose, however that change also creates tremendous opportunity. Good security automation does not mean removing analysts, rather it become a force multiplier by empowering humans to be more productive, more accurate and more efficient in their roles, ultimately converting their function into searching for and engineering more and more automation opportunities.

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