A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a command center for cybersecurity specialists who are in charge of tracking, evaluating, and defending an enterprise from cyber-attacks. Security incidents are constantly tracked in the SOC, which includes internet traffic, internal network infrastructure, desktops, servers, endpoint devices, databases, software, IoT devices, and other systems. The SOC workers can collaborate with other teams or divisions, but they are usually self-contained and comprised of employees with exceptional cybersecurity skills. Most SOCs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with staff working in shifts to continuously track network activity and mitigate threats. A SOC may be developed in-house or outsourced completely or partially to external providers.
What is the purpose of a SOC?
The SOC keeps track of security data created across the IT infrastructure of the company, from host systems and applications to network and security devices like firewalls and antivirus software.
The Security Operation Center conducts the following critical tasks using a variety of specialized technologies and the expertise of seasoned cyber security professionals:
- Monitoring, identification, review, and warning triage for security events
- Management of security incidents, including malware detection and technical investigations
- Control of threat information (ingestion, production, duration, and dissemination)
- Vulnerability detection based on risk (notably, the prioritization of patching)
- Hunting for threats
- Maintenance and control of security devices
- Data and indicators development for compliance monitoring and management
What tools are available in a Security Operations Center?
The SOC is made up of a variety of resources that help cyber security analysts track security activities in the organization’s IT infrastructure on a continuous basis. These techniques are used by members of the security team stationed in the Security Operations Center to classify categories, interpret, and eventually determine how to react to incidents and events.
The following are important resources in the SOC technology stack:
1. Solution for Security Information and Event Management
SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools, with their ability to correlate rules against vast quantities of diverse data to find threats, serve as the SOC’s base. By providing background to the alerts and prioritizing them, threat intelligence adds value to the SIEM operation.
2. Observation of Behavior
By applying behavior modeling and machine learning to surface security threats, User and Entity Behavioral Analytics (UEBA), which is usually applied on top of the SIEM platform, assists security teams in creating baselines.
3. Asset Locating
Asset discovery, also known as an asset directory, allows you to learn more about the systems and technologies that are currently in use in your environment. It allows you to decide which systems are important to the enterprise and how to priorities security controls.
4. Vulnerability Analysis
Detecting the vulnerabilities that an attacker might exploit to penetrate your systems is key to safeguarding your environment. To detect these flaws, security teams must scan the systems for vulnerabilities and take appropriate action. Periodic vulnerability tests are also required by some certifications and regulations to demonstrate compliance.
5. Detection of Intrusion
Intrusion detection systems (IDS) are critical tools for security operations centers (SOCs) to detect attacks early on. Usually, they use intrusion signatures to classify existing attack patterns.
Security Operations Center Advantages
The main advantage of providing a SOC is that it improves the identification of security incidents by continuously tracking and analyzing network behavior and cyber intelligence findings. SOC teams can identify and respond to security incidents early by monitoring activities around the organization’s networks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is vital since one of the most important aspects of a successful cyber security incident response is the ability to respond quickly.
SOC tracking, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, gives organizations a major advantage in the fight against accidents and intrusions, regardless of the source, time of day, or form of attack. The time it takes an attacker to exploit a system and the time it takes to detect it shrinks, allowing companies to remain on top of threats and reduce risk.
The following are some of the most important advantages of a SOC:
- Uninterrupted surveillance and investigation of suspicious behavior
- Incident response times and incident management procedures have both improved.
- The distance between the time of agreement and the time it takes to detect it has narrowed.
- For a more comprehensive approach to defense, software and hardware assets are centralized.
- Effective communication and coordination to detect and distinguish adversarial methods and strategies, such as using the MITRE ATT&CK system
- Security activities would be more transparent and under control.
- Data used in cyber security forensics has a well-established chain of custody.
Security Operations Center Difficulties
The SOC’s position is becoming increasingly complex, as it is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s digital security. Creating and sustaining a capable SOC can be difficult for many organizations.
Among the most common problems are:
The amount of security alerts is the most common challenge that organizations face, and many of them require both advanced systems and human resources to properly categorize, prioritize, and respond to threats. Any risks can be miscategorized or missed completely due to a large number of warnings. This highlights the importance of sophisticated monitoring and automation technologies, as well as a team of trained cybersecurity professionals.
The difficulty of defending the company and reacting to threats has increased due to the nature of the market, workplace versatility, increased use of cloud technology, and other factors. Firewalls, for example, are inadequate as a stand-alone measure to defend the company from digital adversaries today. Sufficient protection necessitates a solution that integrates technology, individuals, and processes, which can be difficult to plan, construct, and maintain.
3. The Price
A SOC takes a lot of time and money to put together. Maintaining it can be even more difficult, as the threat environment is continuously changing, necessitating regular updates and improvements, as well as ongoing training for cyber security personnel. Furthermore, few companies have the internal talent required to fully comprehend the emerging threat landscape. Many businesses partner with third-party security service providers (such as MSSPs) to ensure consistent results without having to invest heavily in internal hardware or personnel.
4. A Scarcity of Skills
The scarcity of qualified cyber security experts makes developing an in-house security solution much more difficult. Cyber security experts are in high demand around the world, making it difficult to hire and retain them. As a result, employee turnover in a cyber-security company can have an effect on security operations.
Deployment Model for Security Operation Centers
An organization can acquire SOC skills in a few different ways. The following are the most popular deployment models:
1. Internal Security Operations Center
For mature cyber security businesses, establishing an in-house Security Operations Center is recommended. Organizations that build internal SOCs have the budget to fund an investment that requires round-the-clock efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and deals with a lot of moving parts in and around their infrastructure. Maximum visibility and responsiveness across the network are one of the most important benefits of establishing an internal SOC.
2. SOC, MSSP, and MDR Services are all Managed
For organizations who want an outside firm to conduct highly skilled monitoring and detection activities, choosing a controlled SOC is recommended. From an IT and cyber security standpoint, certain businesses might be advanced. Budget constraints and a lack of expertise, on the other hand, can restrict the ability to develop a fully functional, internal 24×7 SOC. Some organizations, on the other hand, maybe in the early stages of security and need more experience to rapidly manage Monitoring, Detection, and Response (MDR) efforts.
This model has the following advantages: it is the fastest, easiest, most flexible, and cost-effective to implement. MSSPs (Managed Security Services Providers) usually serve a wide range of customers and sectors, so their experience and resources of additional knowledge can be extremely useful.
The most significant distinction between a conventional SOC and one that includes MDR services is that the latter can not only identify and assess risks, but also respond to them. When a threat is identified, they will check its seriousness before answering and telling you about it.
3. Small Internal & Managed SOC Hybrid
A hybrid model combines the best of both worlds, combining in-house expertise with outside experts to provide a stable approach to detection and response. Most organizations at this stage are big enough to have their own small team. They can’t, however, create a completely operational internal 24×7 SOC. Because of its fast detection and response time, this solution is efficient. There is therefore less of a backlog as a result of the additional researchers (internal and external) who is working on high-priority findings. Additionally, for a company and its cyber security team, this model provides the strongest learning mix. It can also facilitate information transfer from MSSP experts.
The fact that any data would be managed by a third party and that this model can be expensive to maintain in the long run are also significant drawbacks.
4. Capabilities of a Security Operations Center
It takes time and money to prepare, create, and run a Security Operations Center. It’s a necessary challenge for enterprise cyber security effectiveness. Nonetheless, depending on the size of the company and the availability of expert services, external advisors can be useful. You’ll need to consider how to design, build, and run the SOC. The first step moving forward would be to create a business case that will enable you to seek executive leadership support for the project as well as the necessary funding.
Remember that a successful SOC business case focuses on the investment’s result rather than the unique technological skills or resources that a SOC provides. Senior management values business cases that result in measurable changes or benefits.