6 hidden dangers of IT automation


One of many largest hidden dangers of IT automation isn’t securing the information used to coach automated programs, says Kevin Miller, CTO, America, at enterprise software program firm IFS. “Taking it a step additional, automated programs might have vulnerabilities that unhealthy actors can exploit — even anomaly detection itself could be hacked,” he says.

This leaves corporations vulnerable to the automated propagation of threats, Miller says. “As an example, if an attacker positive aspects management over an automatic course of, they’ll unfold malicious code, software program, or actions throughout the system rather more rapidly than in a non-automated surroundings,” he says.

This might result in quicker and extra in depth harm earlier than detection and remediation efforts could be initiated, Miller says. Firms will need to have full visibility and fixed monitoring of programs to find out whether or not an anomaly is attributable to a foul actor who can steal delicate knowledge about an asset, the corporate, or its prospects.

Magnified knowledge administration points

Knowledge administration generally is a essential a part of IT automation, however it may not happen to groups when deploying instruments to automate processes. This could result in issues.

“Utilizing stale knowledge — whether or not it’s by seconds, minutes, hours, or days — to automate IT applied sciences is loads like utilizing previous, non-current visitors knowledge to summon an Uber,” says Erik Gaston, CIO of safety firm Tanium.

“It gained’t work, and it’s not a good suggestion,” Gaston says. “With out real-time knowledge, organizations are restricted in what they’ll scale. So as to add to the danger issue, when organizations attempt to automate past what they’ll scale, it will possibly break essential processes.”

Furthermore, Gaston says, lack of real-time knowledge when scaling automation can add to cybersecurity vulnerabilities. “When automation expertise isn’t utilizing real-time knowledge, it will possibly fail to detect a essential menace or zero day, which may lead to an information breach going unnoticed lengthy sufficient for the unhealthy actors to take advantage of vulnerabilities and acquire unauthorized entry to programs or knowledge,” he says.

To handle such points, RaceTrac’s Williams says the comfort retailer operator has in place a federated knowledge governance technique that gives a structured methodology for knowledge administration. “The cornerstone of this method is making certain that every one knowledge underpinning IT automation is totally vetted, compliant with related laws, and meets the very best high quality requirements,” he says.

A federated knowledge governance technique achieves a fragile stability between centralized governance controls and the flexibleness of decentralized entry, Williams says. “This system permits for top-down governance oversight whereas empowering customers with the autonomy to self-serve,” he says.

This technique permits organizations to “harness the complete potential of IT automation, making certain that their efforts are constructed on a basis of strong knowledge governance and are resilient within the face of evolving expertise landscapes,” Williams says.


One other danger is that duties, as soon as automated, are prone to not be reviewed by IT later.

“Complacency is a really actual danger with regards to IT automation,” Tricentis’ Kichen says. “When one thing works with out a lot want for human intervention, it has the potential to be simply missed. IT groups might overlook or ignore the underlying course of steps, and this mind-set results in potential issues and dangers that may simply come up undetected and unaddressed.”

One instance is human assets off-boarding. “The potential of the method breaking down could be very excessive and issues going undetected are widespread, as everybody tends to imagine every part is working as meant,” Kichen says.

If the automation works and it doesn’t create apparent errors, IT groups would possibly overlook about it. “This implies it doesn’t get periodically reviewed to see if prior safety or IT assumptions stay true,” Kichen says.

On the time of its creation, these selections have been in all probability affordable, Kichen says. “However over time, the underlying assumptions that drove these selections change,” he says. “If IT groups don’t have a corresponding course of to periodically evaluation the automation and its implementation, they’ll get uncovered to severe dangers which will have been nonexistent when it was initially created, however are actually there and related.”

The failure to observe automation programs can lengthen to a failure to maintain tabs on {the marketplace}. “Within the intervening months or years, new distributors might seem that really construct a product that extra securely and effectively does the factor the crew initially automated,” Kichen says. “If groups should not looking out for these developments as a result of their course of in place works, then it gained’t be till one thing unhealthy occurs that they start to rethink their method and notice that the expertise and vendor panorama has superior.”

Governance isn’t a given

It would sound like a contradiction, however IT wants to observe and handle the flexibleness and autonomy enabled by automation. In any other case issues can spiral uncontrolled.

“Automation is in the end a spectrum, that means it’s as much as every group to find out its particular person danger tolerance and act accordingly,” Tanium’s Gaston says. “And whereas this flexibility could be useful, it necessitates cautious planning, common and real-time monitoring, and ongoing coaching for IT personnel to make sure they’ve the talents essential to handle and troubleshoot automated programs.”

It’s additionally vital to know the dependencies of any workflow that’s automated, to keep up reliability and resilience. “That is particularly vital with regards to dated legacy programs that usually don’t do effectively with change and turn into extra brittle with automation,” Gaston says.

One resolution to controlling the usage of automation is to create a governance program. “As with every rising expertise, laws and requirements proceed to emerge concerning automation, and lots of organizations have but to find out learn how to embrace automation in a fashion that finest aligns with enterprise goals,” Gaston says.

“Whilst we automate utilizing best-in-class platforms, it’s crucial to have a look at workflows and processes and make sure the proper guardrails, dependencies, and actions are in place,” Gaston says. “This ensures you’ll be able to construct a contemporary group that reduces danger and strikes IT from administration to innovation.”

Overdependence on automation

Is there such a factor as an excessive amount of reliance on IT automation? Probably, if it means a decline in different areas.

“Relying closely on automation can result in abilities atrophy amongst IT workers, the place guide troubleshooting and intervention abilities might decline,” IFS’ Miller says. “This turns into a big danger when automated programs encounter sudden points that require guide decision.”

An overdependence on automation can even lead to a lack of institutional information in regards to the intricacies of system operations particular to the enterprise, Miller says, making it more durable to adapt or innovate outdoors the automated processes.

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