Editor’s note: This is part two of a blog series detailing the technologies powering the ReliaQuest GreyMatter security operations platform and the future of security operations in general.
- Part one: Exploring the Future of Security Operations
- Part three: Connecting the Dots: Data Stitching for Comprehensive Security
- Part four: How and Why to Automate Threat Detection, Investigation, and Response
In the fast-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, organizations face the daunting task of safeguarding their data and systems from ever-growing threats. One powerful way that organizations can get the most out of their existing technologies while fortifying cybersecurity defenses is leveraging a bi-directional API for their technology integrations. By enabling seamless data exchange and actions between different cybersecurity technologies, bi-directional APIs empower organizations to efficiently enhance their security posture and respond effectively to emerging threats.
Understanding API Integrations
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules and protocols that enable different software systems or applications to communicate and interact with each other. Think of it like a mailbox. A mailbox (API) provides a way for you to send your messages (data) to your friends or family (another system or program) without directly interacting with them. It takes your request, processes it, and sends it to the appropriate destination. This process is the same for two different software systems: System A will use an API to facilitate communication and data exchange with System B.
In cybersecurity, APIs accelerate security operations because they allow a security professional to send and receive data from various technologies without directly interfacing them.
Unidirectional vs Bi-Directional
Right now, many APIs are unidirectional, pushing data one-way. This means friends and family can put letters in the mailbox, but you can only take the letters out. You can’t put anything back into the mailbox to respond back to them. Similarly, System B can only receive information that System A sent to it. It cannot send response data back to update System A.
Although useful in certain security scenarios—like ingesting large quantities of ever-evolving threat intel data—using unidirectional API integrations in the wrong situation can decrease the efficiency of your security operations because many situations require messages to be sent and received from both systems.
For example, if you queried an endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool using an API from another system and received malicious traffic as a result, you’d probably want to act on the data received using the same API. You wouldn’t be able to do it with a unidirectional API. Instead, you’d have to manually log into the EDR, search for the corresponding traffic received, and then act from within the tool, increasing the amount of time that malicious traffic spends in your environment.
In contrast, a bi-directional API allows data to flow to and from both parties (i.e., your friends can send mail to your mailbox, and you can respond back). Using a bi-directional API in cyber security allows data to flow in either direction, between a security operations platform like GreyMatter and your existing security solutions, enabling automated data ingestion and response actions.
Using our previous EDR example, a bi-directional API allows you to query the EDR directly from a system like GreyMatter, obtain malicious traffic results, and enables you to send commands back to the EDR to action the traffic using the same API. Those actions (isolating a host, banning a hash, stopping a process, etc.), will be executed within the EDR from GreyMatter without requiring direct interaction with the EDR. This decreases malicious dwell time in your environment and increases operational efficiency.
Benefits of Bi-Directional APIs in Cybersecurity
It’s imperative for security operations to adopt a platform that natively leverages bi-directional APIs to provide benefits that maximize your operational efficiency. Those benefits include:
Maximized ROI from Existing Technologies
By leveraging bidirectional APIs into your existing technologies, you can unlock the full potential of your investments. You can enhance data synchronization, streamline workflows and collaboration, and achieve unified data access, optimizing your existing technologies’ ROI. However, if you decide to onboard new tools, bi-directional APIs allow your security operations to remain flexible and efficient as you grow.
Centralized Security Orchestration
Bi-directional API integrations enable the centralization and orchestration of security operations. For example, organizations can utilize GreyMatter, a security operations platform, to integrate various cybersecurity technologies—such as vulnerability scanners, endpoint protection platforms, and identity and access management systems—into a unified security framework. This centralization simplifies security operations, enables consistent policy enforcement, and provides a comprehensive picture of the security landscape. GreyMatter uses a bi-directional API to pull data from multiple data sources, such as firewalls, CASBs, and antivirus software. This gives organizations a comprehensive view of their security threats at the perimeter, on-premises, and in the cloud, enabling security operations teams to rapidly identify and respond to emerging cyber threats via the same API.
Organizations can automate their threat detection, investigation, and response (TDIR) process by employing bi-directional APIs. When a security event is detected by one technology, like an intrusion detection system, the API can trigger predefined actions in other systems, such as initiating forensic analysis, isolating an infected device, or blocking malicious traffic. This automation reduces response time, minimizes human error, and helps mitigate potential damages caused by cyber incidents.
Enhanced Threat Hunting
Security analysts can conduct advanced threat hunting by pulling and correlating data from numerous sources via bi-directional API integrations. They can extract data from security logs, network traffic analysis tools, and threat intelligence platforms, and analyze them collectively to uncover hidden patterns, indicators of compromise, or potential vulnerabilities. This proactive approach helps organizations stay one step ahead of cyber threats.
Reduced Manual Effort and Errors
Bi-directional APIs can reduce or even eliminate manual data entry and duplication of work. Let’s say you’re investigating an alert in a security operations platform, but the ticket is being tracked separately in your IT service management (ITSM) system. You can use the bi-directional API to extract crucial incident information from the ticketing system into the SecOps platform to use throughout your investigation. During the investigation, you can update the ticket in the ticketing system, and once everything is finished, you can automatically close the ticket in the ITSM from the SecOps platform. Human error is decreased, and efficiency is increased by automating data retrieval and action-taking procedures.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of cybersecurity, organizations must harness the power of bi-directional API integrations to enhance their defenses against cyber threats. By leveraging the bi–directional flow of data and actions between cybersecurity technologies, organizations can build robust security architectures, respond effectively to emerging threats, and safeguard their valuable data and systems from malicious actors. ReliaQuest GreyMatter leverages a bi-directional API for all its technology integrations, ensuring efficiency and scalability. The bi-directional API enables us to provide our clients with automation across TDIR, intelligent cyber analysis, and a dedicated threat hunting platform, allowing them to increase visibility, reduce complexity and manage cyber risks. The future of cybersecurity lies in the seamless integration and collaboration of diverse technologies, facilitated by bi-directional API integrations.