What Does Audio Production Have in Common With Security?

Next week (March 28-29) our Founder & CEO,SINET ITSEF 2017 Oliver Friedrichs, is presenting at SINET’s ITSEF event in Silicon Valley. Phantom was honored as a SINET 16 Innovator last fall. Oliver’s session is titled: Security Automation & Orchestration is Finally Here, Tying the Loose Ends Onto One Sheet of Music.

The music related theme of Oliver’s session struck a chord with me (pun intended).  Way back in the day, I was a music producer and a DJ.  Though the demands on my free time have changed significantly since then, I still keep an eye on music industry trends.

Automation has become so relevant to the mainstream; in our cars, our homes, and even our music.  Allow me to digress a bit.  The DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a mainstay in modern music production.  In short, it’s HW or SW that musicians use to record, edit, and produce audio.  If you’ve used tools like GarageBand, then you’ve experienced music production capabilities like that of a DAW.

It shouldn’t surprise you that automation has even made its way into the DAW.  There are a number of ways that the automated enhancements in a DAW can transform an average mix into something stellar.  Volume and panning arrangements, vocals, drum fills, and effects are all attributes that can be automated. (OK, I’m geeking out here a bit on audio.  Buy me a beer, and we can get into the weeds on music.  Back to the main point in 3 – 2 – 1…).

Though automation is impacting a number of areas, there is one thing I want to be clear about… it doesn’t replace humans, it only makes our jobs easier and improves on our efforts.

Good music still requires a musician.  Automation simply performs tasks–it can’t compose the music. Even with complex algorithms and theory rules, automation cannot make a hit song without a musician applying input. What can be automated in music, though, are tons of remedial tasks that are easily done through production tools. You can set velocities (how hard a key or instrument is played in s single note) as well as durations without having to edit each individual note. How about grabbing an entire composition and changing the key signature?

In the case of security automation, there are also common actions that are easily be automated (e.g. collecting intelligence for an event under investigation). There are still others, however, that might always require some level of human oversight (e.g. adding a block action to a firewall).

To navigate these scenarios, Phantom allows a human to participate in an automation loop in customizable levels.  With Phantom, you can insert a human approval, with responses, into a playbook.  When a human approval is reached during playbook execution, automation pauses until the appropriate human response is received.  Phantom is flexible enough to allow for a variety of responses for interpretation, such as text based responses (yes/no) as well number-based responses and scoring.  Regardless, the human ultimately has the opportunity to control the automation path in advance of it actually happening.

I hope to see you at SINET ITSEF next week, or another upcoming event.  I’m always happy to chat with you about security, music, and a wide range of other topics!

Dan Ramaswami
Director of Security Engineering

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