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Security Operations Center (SOC): Working and Benefits Explained

A Security Operations Center (SOC) also termed Information Security Operations Center (ISOC) consists are IT professionals responsible to monitor, detect, analyze and respond to cybersecurity threats on a constant basis. 

The SOC team consists of both security analysts and engineers inspecting potential security threats and breaches on servers, databases, networks, applications, endpoint devices, websites, and other systems. 

How Does a SOC Work?

The main objective of a SOC team is to secure the organization’s security by monitoring and providing alerts in case of abnormal activities using data collection and analysis. Threat data is collected from firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems, and threat intel. Alerts are sent immediately to the SOC team in the event of discrepancies, abnormal trends, or other indicators of compromise are identified.

What Does a SOC Do?

The SOC team investigate the company’s network for anomalies. Once such discrepancies are found, they immediately isolate the endpoint affected from the network, investigate the cause and take corrective action to resolve the issue.

Asset Discovery

By acquiring a deep awareness of all hardware, software, tools, and technologies used in the organization, the SOC ensures assets are monitored for security incidents.

Behavioral Monitoring

The SOC analyzes technology infrastructure 24/7/365 for abnormalities. The SOC employs both reactive and proactive measures to ensure irregular activity is quickly detected and addressed. Behavioral monitoring of suspicious activity is used to minimize false positives.

Maintaining Activity Logs

All activity and communications taking place across the enterprise must be logged by the SOC team. Activity logs allow the SOC to backtrack and pinpoint past actions that may have caused a cyber security breach. Log management also helps in setting a baseline for what should be deemed normal activity.

Alert Ranking

All security incidents are not created equal. Some incidents will pose a greater risk to an organization than others. Assigning severity ranking helps SOC teams prioritize the most severe alerts.

Incident Response

SOC teams perform incident response when a compromise is discovered.

Root Cause Investigation

After an incident, the SOC may be charged with investigating when, how, and why an incident occurred. During the investigation, the SOC relies on log information to track the root problem and therefore prevent a recurrence.

Compliance Management

The SOC team members must act in line with the organizational policies, industry standards, and regulatory requirements.

The Benefits of having SOC for an organization 

Continuous Monitoring

Cybercriminals prefer to carry out an attack outside the company’s business hours to make it successful. That’s why it’s important to monitor the organization’s security 24×7. The company staffs multiple shifts of their security team to ensure that SOC analysts and incident responders are available around the clock to combat cyber attacks. 

Centralized Visibility

Having visibility and ensuring security across the enterprise network keeps getting complicated. With advancements in technology, new vulnerabilities are detected by attackers to infiltrate a network. This is where a SOC team can come up with an integrated network visibility solution. With the help of tools, the security team will secure network infrastructure from evolving threats. 

Reduced Cybersecurity Costs

Incorporating a robust corporate cybersecurity solution can be expensive. To achieve comprehensive visibility and protection across the company network, multiple platforms and licenses are needed. Having a centralized SOC team can help an organization in reducing costs by sharing them across the organization. Eliminating the departmental silos reduces the additional overheads associated with duplication and redundancy. 

An effective SOC center saves money for the organization in the long run by preventing cyber-attacks from happening and drastically reducing the risk involved. For example, a successful ransomware attack costs the company in terms of downtime and system recovery. A SOC that is capable of blocking even a single cyberattack before causing any damage has already proven its significant impact on the return on investment. 

Better Collaboration

Good collaboration is critical to effective incident detection and response. If an organization fails to have a clear process in place for identifying, reporting, and responding to cyber security incidents, such delays will increase the possibility for an attacker to infiltrate the network and gain access to company-sensitive data. 

A SOC is better known for centralizing an organization’s security resources and personnel to tackle even advanced cyber threats. Their well-established structure is proven to meet the cyber security needs of an organization by making it easier to communicate among team members and departments. Functions such as 24×7 network monitoring, rapid response to potential security incidents, and more can be carried out seamlessly.  

Deploying Security Information and Event Management 

Combining Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) offers real-time monitoring and analysis of events as well as tracking and logging of security data for compliance or auditing purposes.

In simple terms, SIEM is a security solution that helps organizations recognize potential security threats and vulnerabilities before they have a chance to disrupt business operations. It surfaces user behavior anomalies and uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to automate many of the manual processes associated with threat detection and incident response and has become a necessity in modern-day security operation centers (SOCs) for security and compliance management use cases

Which Industries are in need of SOCaaS (Security Operation Centers as a Service)? 

Digital transformation across Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI), healthcare, government, and IT has led to the adoption of SOCaaS.

Even though the cybersecurity requirements vary with organizations depending upon their size, industry, and sector. SOCaaS has everything needed for all of them.

Micro and small businesses need SOCaaS to take care of their SOC functions, large businesses use SOCaaS to augment their internal teams. Medium-sized businesses fall somewhere between these extremes.

SOC Best Practices

Widening the Focus of Information Security

Cloud computing has given rise to a wide range of new cloud-based processes. It has also dramatically expanded the virtual infrastructure of most organizations. At the same time, other technological advancements such as the internet of things have become more prevalent. This means that organizations are more connected to the cloud than ever before. However, it also means that they are more exposed to threats than ever before. As you go about building a SOC, it is crucial to widening the scope of cybersecurity to continually secure new processes and technologies as they come into use.

Expanding Data Intake

When it comes to cybersecurity, collecting data can often prove incredibly valuable. Gathering data on security incidents enables a security operations center to put those incidents into the proper context. It also allows them to identify the source of the problem better. Moving forward, an increased focus on collecting more data and organizing it in a meaningful way will be critical for SOCs.

Improved Data Analysis

Collecting more data is only valuable if you can thoroughly analyze it and draw conclusions from it. Therefore, an essential SOC best practice to implement is a more in-depth and more comprehensive analysis of the data that you have available. Focusing on better data security analysis will empower your SOC team to make more informed decisions regarding the security of your network.

Take Advantage of Security Automation

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly automated. Taking DevSecOps best practices to complete more tedious and time-consuming security tasks frees up your team to focus all of their time and energy on other, more critical tasks. As cybersecurity automation continues to advance, organizations need to focus on building SOCs that are designed to take advantage of the benefits that automation offers.

Security Operations Center Roles and Responsibilities

A security operations center is made up of a number of individual team members. Each team member has unique duties. The specific team members that comprise the incident response team may vary. Common positions – along with their roles and responsibilities – that you will find in a security team include:

SOC Manager 

The manager is the head of the team. They are responsible for managing the team, setting budgets and agendas, and reporting to executive managers within the organization.

Security Analysts

A security analyst is responsible for organizing and interpreting security data from SOC reports or audits. Also, providing real-time risk management, vulnerability assessment, and security intelligence provide insights into the state of the organization’s preparedness.

Forensic Investigator 

In the event of an incident, the forensic investigator is responsible for analyzing the incident to collect data, evidence, and behavior analytics.

Incident Responder

Incident responders are the first to be notified when security alerts happen. They are then responsible for performing an initial evaluation and threat assessment of the alert.

Compliance Auditor

The compliance auditor is responsible for ensuring that all processes carried out by the team are done so in a way that complies with regulatory standards.

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