Alerts are one of the most important information sources when it comes to cyber security. They notify and inform your IT team about ongoing cyber threats, security events and any other incident that might threaten your organization. In this article, we will focus on alert grouping and why it is important for the security of your organization. Alerts are the notifications that aim to inform you about serious security incidents or threats regarding your system and network. They are crucial for your security professionals to interfere with various security incidents immediately and contain any threats before they cause serious problems. On a given day, there can be tens of alerts that require the attention of your security professionals. It an important task to sift through them and pay attention to rather more serious or threatening alerts. Which brings us the topic of alert grouping.
Your cyber security team is faced with numerous alerts on each and every single day. Within those alerts, there are ‘false positives’ that are not actual security incidents, mildly serious security events and incidents that require immediate action and solution. Alert grouping techniques aim to bring together alerts that are similar in nature, or require similar steps in order to be solved. When you opt for alert grouping techniques, your security measures group alerts that meet particular criteria. This criterion can be based on the context, severity, the incident’s relation to assets and such. An alert becomes part of a specific group if it cannot be incorporated to any other group. An alert can only belong to a single alert group. If you believe that an alert can be incorporated into more than one group, either the features of the alert in discussion or the criterion you use for grouping alerts needs to be revised.
In accordance with the criterion you use for grouping alerts, there can be various alert group types. Let us explain various approaches to alert grouping with an example. Let’s say that you listed and grouped all the assets that belong to your organization. The criteria you used for grouping your assets is their importance to the function of the organization. When you are to group the alerts and security incidents, you can use this asset order in regards to importance. If an alert is related to the asset group A, it belongs to the alert group A. If an alert is threatening the asset group B, it belongs to the alert group B and such. It might be also benefical you to check how you can use SOAR for incident management.
There are two approaches to cyber security investigations: alert-based and threat-centric. If your cyber security professionals opt for alert-based investigations, they need to match each alert with a case. Yet there will be multiple alerts that corresponds to one single case. This is where alert grouping comes in handy. With the alert grouping techniques, each new alert is related with an open security incident. This way, your security team have the chance to focus on the problems instead of alerts.
Another point that proves the importance of alert grouping is the speed. Within the framework of cyber security, speed is very, very important. In order to stop an ongoing incident before it does irreversible harm to your assets and systems, you need to act quick. With the alert grouping techniques, your security team gains acceleration since they are able to see alerts within their context. Moreover, alert grouping allows them to keep up with the progress of an incident.