The rise of new cyber threats has placed businesses of all sizes under an intense amount of pressure when it comes to their cybersecurity measures. New hacks, viruses, worms, and other malicious software are being discovered at an alarming rate. As a result, companies across the globe must be ready with a response plan at all times to counter any future incidents in near real-time. However, with all the work involved, your IT team may not always have total visibility of your IT infrastructure. That’s where a security operations centre (SOC) comes in.
What is a SOC?
SOC stands for Security Operations Centre and is the central hub in an organisation that houses a team of information security professionals who continuously monitor an organisation’s entire IT infrastructure, including appliances, devices, data storage systems, and networks. The goal of the SOC is to monitor, detect, analyse and respond to cyber-attacks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The SOC can also mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks by improving your organisation’s response time so that you can get back to business as quickly as possible after almost any attack.
Incident response: The SOC provides incident response services, one of the most critical aspects of which is to react as swiftly as possible after an incident occurs to minimise business disruption and restore normal operations as soon as possible. To ensure an immediate and effective incident response, the SOC team develops an incident response plan.
Threat monitoring: The SOC team ensures that adequate tools and resources are employed to scan the organisation’s entire IT network for any threats, suspicious activities, or abnormalities that might lead to a security breach. Around-the-clock monitoring helps the SOC quickly spot emerging threats and take quick action to minimise potential damage.
Vulnerability management: A SOC team performs vulnerability scanning to identify system weaknesses and vulnerabilities and fix them before they can be exploited. Vulnerability scanning is a continuous process that must be done regularly to identify and remedy any system vulnerabilities as they happen because infrastructural changes and business growth can lead to new vulnerabilities.
What isn’t a SOC?
SOCs are often lumped together with other IT functions. Here is a list of those functions and the differences between them and a SOC:
NOC vs SOC
A NOC or Network Operations Centre is responsible for ensuring that the company’s IT infrastructure is properly configured to meet SLAs. On the other hand, a SOC is responsible for safeguarding the company against cyberattacks that might otherwise cause significant financial damage. They are similar in that NOCs and SOCs both work to protect the company from potential threats and performance issues with the network.
SIEM vs SOC
A SIEM or Security Incident Event Management solution collects and aggregates data from multiple sources and utilises data analytics to identify and warn about likely cyber threats to the network. A SOC, on the other hand, monitors a company’s network to identify and fix cyber problems. SIEM and SOCs work together to alert firms about any potential cyber incidents and help them avoid data breaches.
MDR vs SOC
A Managed Detection and Response (MDR) security service is an advanced, around-the-clock security control that is often outsourced to improve the security of your IT infrastructure against cyberattacks. An MDR is a security service outsourced to organisations that lack their own SOCs. As described above, a SOC performs several duties including incident qualification, threat and vulnerability management, and proactive monitoring, among others.
How does a SOC function?
To establish a SOC, the business first must develop a comprehensive strategy and then devise an appropriate security architecture to support it. The SOC team’s success depends on the following elements:
People have one of the most essential roles in any organisation’s cybersecurity strategy. In order to run an efficient SOC, you must have people with diverse skills. Even the most advanced of your security systems and processes will be ineffective if you don’t have the right people.
To function optimally, the SOC needs to have a set of pre-established processes. These processes outline such important measures including documentation procedures for data tracking, data protection procedures, client data management, and user authentication for data security, and also define how to monitor networks for vulnerabilities and how to address security risks.
An effective and efficient SOC requires an integrated set of technologies to resist even the most sophisticated cyber-attacks and create a robust cybersecurity posture. The most significant technologies for building a strong SOC are cloud security, data encryption, endpoint security, application security, malware detection, vulnerability scanners, network security, firewalls, and so on.
What comprises a SOC team?
The roles and responsibilities of each team member within the SOC are critical to the security management and disaster recovery of your organisation:
The SOC manager is responsible for managing the SOC team and supervising SOC operations. They hire and train other SOC team members and design and implement cybersecurity strategies. The SOC manager also orchestrates and supervises the company’s response to large cyber threats.
The incident responder is responsible for configuring and monitoring security solutions in order to detect threats. The incident responder works as a Tier 1-level member of a SOC team and examines hundreds of alerts every day in order to categorise them based on their level of importance. Once the data is categorised, it is then forwarded to the security investigator.
Security investigators work to discover how and why a security incident took place, using threat intelligence and other advanced resources. Working with the incident responder, the security investigator identifies the affected devices and servers. The security investigator also conducts an in-depth investigation to identify the attack source, methods used to initiate the attack, and so on.
The security analyst gathers and analyses data about a security incident in order to examine previous incidents, find unidentified vulnerabilities, and explore possible solutions. In addition to detecting potential cyber threats, security analysts suggest changes that may improve an organisation’s cybersecurity posture.
SOC operations are subject to the same industry and government regulations as other IT processes. The SOC team includes an auditor who has been certified in compliance mandates and can therefore ensure that the company remains compliant with the required regulations in order to avoid significant fines for non-compliance.
A security architect or security engineer is responsible for maintaining the organisation’s security architecture and keeping systems and tools up to date. They might also be responsible for designing, documenting, and updating security protocols, which would be adhered to by the organisation.
Why is a SOC important?
The global average total cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million. This number has risen over the last few years, and it is expected to increase again in 2022.
Most organisations lack the tools to promptly detect and respond to cyber threats, which can result in a lengthy period of time between the occurrence of a cyber-attack and its detection. Without a SOC, IT teams would need to manually monitor each device connected to your network — which would include computers, servers, routers, virtual machines, mobile devices, and data storage devices — on a daily basis. This manual monitoring would certainly take up a lot of your team’s time. Also, since threats are evolving at a rapid rate, conventional security software solutions may not be able to keep up with cyber threats as effectively as they did in the past.
Having a SOC allows organisations to better see what is happening in their environment in real-time and take the appropriate steps to prevent cyber-attacks. By detecting flaws early, organisations can better prepare to address cyber incidents before they get out of hand, which can lead to regulatory fines, operational downtime, loss of customer trust, and potentially legal action.
What is a managed SOC?
An organisation that doesn’t have the resources to purchase security software, experts, hardware, training, and more may decide to outsource to a managed SOC, also known as SOC-as-a-Service. An external team of experts monitors your network, logs, devices, and cloud environment to detect, evaluate, and repair issues and threats.
This allows the business to ensure 24/7 monitoring of its IT infrastructure, ensure its IT environment is secure and well-protected against emerging cyber threats and vulnerabilities, and enhance its security posture at a much lower cost than hiring a full-time internal SOC.
Get a robust security strategy for your business
With the increasing threat landscape and the potential danger to your business data, it is important to have the best of the best when it comes to cybersecurity. INTELLIWORX is a leading managed SOC provider and can help your organisation stay ahead of potential threats, security risks, and cyber-attacks. Take cybersecurity seriously and contact the security specialists at INTELLIWORX today.