With cyber threats continuing to evolve, it is essential for organisations to protect their sensitive data and infrastructure.
But effectively defending an organisation’s most valuable digital assets requires experience, dedicated resources and most importantly, structure. That’s what makes a dedicated security team, or Security Operations Centre (SOC), so critical. But what is a Security Operations Centre and how does it operate?
This blog will break down the various aspects of SOCs – from functions, roles & challenges through to best practices. This will help you better understand its importance and role, should you ever consider setting up your own, or look to outsource to a service provider.
- SOCs provide a dedicated resource to protect organisations from threats and manage secure systems.
- SOC teams consist of different security professionals with specific roles, such as Security Engineers, Analysts, Threat Hunters & Forensic Investigators.
- Automation, monitoring content/alert ranking & leveraging managed security service providers are key best practices to build and maintain a successful SOC.
Understanding the Security Operations Centre (SOC)
The SOC serves as a centralised team to protect organisations from cyber threats, manage secure systems and unify security tools for better protection.
To maintain their organisation’s strong security posture, the SOC works in real-time monitoring, detecting and responding to potential incidents while constantly implementing improvements and learnings to reduce their attack surface.
A SOC is a team of security specialists who are dedicated to proactively monitoring for cyber threats and responding quickly if any threats occur. They can be an internal team or an outsourced resource depending on a company’s requirements. But the bottom line is, their sole purpose is to defend an organisation’s digital assets.
The Core Functions of a Security Operations Centre
The cornerstone of any SOC is a team made up of skilled security professionals responsible for performing crucial tasks involving continuous monitoring, threat detection and incident response.
The main functions of a security operations centre include:
Continuous monitoring is a must for SOC teams in order to maintain and protect the organisation’s IT environment. As part of this process, security professionals make use of different tools such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions, log analysis utilities, etc., so they can detect intrusions or other cyber threats quickly and effectively.
To stay one step ahead of malicious actors looking to exploit system vulnerabilities, it’s essential that organisations keep their networks constantly monitored. With cutting edge technology, these efforts are made more efficient – allowing SOC teams to recognise suspicious behaviour quickly before any serious damage is done.
Threat detection is a critical activity for the SOC, which requires analysing data from various sources to identify and prioritise potential risks. Utilising tools such as SIEMs, XDRs, and threat intelligence feeds are essential in uncovering malicious activities that could be used against an organisation’s security measures. Firewalls can also help safeguard networks by restricting unauthorised access by enforcing safety rules established within the system.
Alongside technical solutions like those mentioned above, threat intelligence must not be overlooked when it comes to the effective detection of threats. Staying informed on evolving advanced threats allows SOC teams to develop approaches designed to pre-emptively recognise any hazards before they endanger corporate assets or infringe upon company confidentiality policies.
The primary role of the SOC team is to handle security incidents in a way that leads to minimal disruption for business operations. They must contain, mitigate and recover from said threats while also making sure stakeholders are informed appropriately. This process requires fast action on behalf of Security Analysts who assess the severity and take steps towards containment when necessary.
Specifically, incident response may include isolating affected endpoints or applications. Suspending compromised accounts, deleting malicious files, and running anti-virus & anti-malware software. The team oversees this whole procedure, ensuring that all aspects – detection through recovery, are taken care of effectively whilst maintaining communication between parties involved in the resolution effort.
What are the different roles within a SOC Team and their key responsibilities?
A SOC requires a diverse set of security professionals, each with their own dedicated responsibilities to maintain the organisation’s safety.
SOC teams generally consist of the following roles:
- SOC managers – SOC managers are in charge of the team’s operations and finances.
- Engineers – Security engineers focus on crafting system architecture safeguards.
- Analysts – Monitoring for events that could lead to breaches, as well as providing recommendations on remediation measures if an incident occurs
- Threat hunters – Threat hunters aim to identify known and unknown risks before they become more serious issues.
- Forensic investigators – Forensic investigators trace incidents back so it can be determined where exactly things went wrong thus preventing similar occurrences from occurring again later down the line.
All these roles ultimately combine into one comprehensive unit, that operates efficiently and effectively to prevent and respond to cyber threats in real time. By having dedicated roles, organisations can ensure the highest level of protection, ensuring skilled individuals are focusing on objectives and outcomes.
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What Challenges Does a SOC Mitigate
Some organisations may choose to delegate the responsibility of security to an existing IT department. While it is possible for a non-dedicated team to manage security, there are many challenges to be considered. These can include:
- Alert fatigue resulting in missed alerts.
- The complexity of establishing a team and ensuring tools are correctly implemented to meet the requirements of a specific IT environment.
- The cost of setting up an in-house team including training, salaries and software.
- The ongoing skill shortages when looking to employ dedicated security specialists.
These challenges make managing security in-house difficult, which is why many organisations are choosing to outsource their security requirements. Alternatively, establishing a dedicated in-house security team is a viable option, however no small challenge in itself.
Some organisations may consider upskilling existing staff or hiring new team members with relevant expertise and leveraging managed security providers for additional requirements.
Types of Security Operations Centres: In-House vs. Outsourced
Organisations must consider their individual resources, expertise and security necessities when weighing up the options of either setting up an in-house SOC or outsourcing to a third party provider.
Creating and managing an internal SOC can be expensive. It grants companies complete control over their own operational procedures while being able to customise them according to needs.
Many organisations are exploring alternative approaches to security operations due to the financial burden of developing and maintaining their own SOC.
The cost for such a venture can range anywhere from thousands up to millions depending on its size. To overcome this obstacle, many businesses have opted to outsource or collaborate with managed cyber security service providers, such as Aspire, who offer solutions that meet all cybersecurity needs without breaking the bank. By accessing external resources and experienced personnel, companies can ensure maximum protection while managing costs associated with setting up an in-house SOC.
On the other hand, employing external providers might save money, but could ultimately depend on how well this corresponds with specific demands. Ultimately, it’s best for each company to determine what best works for them.
Best Practices for Building and Maintaining a SOC
Organisations should form an actionable strategy that is tailored to their risks and needs to ensure the efficiency of a SOC.
This entails making sure organisation-wide awareness of its objectives exists. Suitable tools are necessary for proper monitoring against security threats along with effective responses when incidents arise.
Investment in hiring skilled personnel who receive training will also maximise SOC performance. By following these steps, organisations can achieve successful protection from cyber threats by successfully sustaining a strong SOC defence system.
SOC Tools and Technologies
In order to protect sensitive data and detect any security threats, SOC teams employ various technologies such as MDR, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, Firewalls. With these solutions, they are able to monitor behaviours for potential malicious activities while also being capable of collecting information from logs which then allows them to identify events that could compromise the system’s integrity.
Asset discovery tools allow SOCs to gain visibility into their networks so that more effective measures can be taken in relation to cyber threat prevention or investigation. It is important for organisations to ensure an up-to-date environment by implementing a proper mix of those security solutions since it enables efficient protection against possible breaches occurring on its systems assets.
In summary, Security Operations Centres are essential for providing an added layer of defence against potential cyber threats. By grasping the tasks, responsibilities and issues that arise with a SOC, organisations can decide if it’s preferable to build or outsource their security operations in order to be better equipped from intrusions into confidential data as well as infrastructure. With an effectively managed SOC, companies have more confidence knowing they have taken proactive measures when facing any online threat landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a security operations centre do?
The Security Operations Centre (SOC) is a collection of cybersecurity specialists whose primary purpose is to recognise, assess and address cyber threats in order to safeguard an organisation. It consolidates all security operations with the aim of elevating threat detection, reaction times and preventive strategies for businesses.
What is the role of a SOC team?
The role of a SOC team is to identify, analyse and tackle cyber security risks in an effort to protect the network. This includes having analysts, incident responders and engineers working together collaboratively towards this shared goal.
What roles are typically found within a SOC team?
A SOC usually includes a manager, security engineers, analysts, threat hunters and forensic investigators. All these elements are part of the Security Operations structure to ensure all threats can be identified quickly and efficiently.
What challenges do SOCs face and how can they be addressed?
Due to the difficulties of alert fatigue, complex operations, associated costs, lack of expertise and regulatory requirements, managing security in-house requires dedicated resource to be effective.
Internal or outsourced SOCs offer expert and effective management of security services for enhanced protection from cyberthreats so these challenges can be met effectively.