Building and running a security operations center takes time and resources. Many organizations seek to minimize those costs by engaging a managed security services provider. SOC teams use XDR and SIEM tools to identify threats by filtering out false positives and prioritizing issues based on their severity and impact on business continuity. This reduces the chance that a minor incident will evolve into something more significant.
The SOC’s Role
SOCs are tasked with protecting an organization’s assets, including networks, endpoints and applications that run on them. This can also include cloud resources that serve customer data, support internal business processes or are used to host third-party services and applications. This requires a complete view of all systems, with the ability to see everything from the device level to the cloud. This is achieved by constantly monitoring the organization’s assets, using tools that can scan your network and detect anything that looks suspicious. Preventative maintenance is another key element of the SOC’s role. This includes implementing tools that automatically monitor and update themselves and ensure patches are applied consistently and correctly. So, what is security operations center, and how it benefits the organization?
The security operations center is the team that monitors an organization’s cybersecurity technologies and responses to cyber threats. It improves incident detection and response capabilities through continuous activity monitoring, enhancing an organization’s security posture. A security operations center combines several technologies to manage risk, detect threats and respond quickly. The center can be internal or virtual and may or may not include a physical room with full-time staff. The SOC also performs vulnerability assessments, tests and penetrations to identify weaknesses and test defenses. The team works with other departments and security specialists to implement new policies, best practices and procedures for detecting, responding to and remediating vulnerabilities and attacks.
Sophisticated cybercriminals can bypass conventional defenses like firewalls and endpoint security software. The SOC’s role is to continuously look for these new threats and use tools to identify them. These tools may include machine learning capabilities that can discover sophisticated threats or anomaly detection systems that alert the SOC to unusual activity.
SOCs need to be able to handle huge volumes of alerts, but the most important thing is that they take advantage of the most dangerous ones. This means having the right tools to manage, filter and correlate information in real-time, which is why working with a SOCaaS provider with the staffing and technology required to operate 24/7 is crucial. Alert severity ranking is also important to ensure that the SOC first addresses the most severe incidents.
A SOC monitors your organization’s digital infrastructure to detect and respond to attacks. SOC teams work around the clock logging and watching for threats to networks, servers, desktops, endpoint devices, databases and applications. This is done either in-house by IT professionals with specialized security skills or outsourced to a third-party service provider.
SOC staff monitor raw data from an organization’s firewalls, threat intelligence, intrusion prevention and detection systems (IPSes/IDSes), probes and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to identify anomalous activity. The goal of the SOC is to identify and communicate a risk score (also known as an IOC or indicator of compromise) for every piece of raw data – determining whether it represents a potential threat.
Often, SOCs receive multiple alerts that must be prioritized and acted upon. However, many of these alerts are irrelevant or false positives — causing SOC teams to become overloaded with noise. An effective solution is to improve alert prioritization through behavioral analytics tools. This lets teams weed out low-fidelity alerts and focus on the most severe ones first.
The SOC will then determine how to handle the threat and what its impact on business operations is. This may involve isolating the affected endpoint to prevent it from spreading to other devices, terminating processes that have been exploited, and restoring normal operations.
Once a threat or incident is detected, it’s the SOC’s job to take immediate action. This may include taking various measures, such as wiping and restoring systems, disconnecting endpoints from the network and resetting passwords and authentication credentials. To effectively address threats, a SOC must be proficient in the tools at its disposal. Just as a carpenter needs a variety of hammers and a good understanding of how each one works, a SOC needs to understand how to leverage its security information and event management best (SIEM) solution, including alerting, threat intelligence, data aggregation, machine learning, monitoring, dashboards and compliance capabilities. Clear SecOps processes also help reduce costs by driving efficiency and enabling a faster response to incidents. In addition, a strong SIEM and the ability to correlate events with log data provide better visibility into the organization’s network traffic patterns and help prevent costly attacks from emerging. By detecting risks in real time, the SOC can focus on preventing them from ever happening. That’s why a clear SIEM strategy is vital for every enterprise.
A SOC team is responsible for various tasks to safeguard the organization from cyber-attacks. They monitor networks, internet traffic, servers, desktop computers, endpoint devices, operating systems and databases around the clock to detect and respond to threats. SOC personnel also manage and track security tools, run reports and ensure the right personnel is notified of potential incidents. Most SOC teams function 24/7 and work in shifts to mitigate risks and respond to alerts quickly. A comprehensive attack surface management program may include prevention technology for threat ingress and egress channels, penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, external application testing, user authentication and authorization, patch management and an enterprise-wide logging solution. This approach helps prevent attacks and minimize their impact while working within a company’s risk tolerance level. An effective SOC will have well-defined processes determining how incoming alerts are validated, prioritized, reported on and escalated. This includes determining what is considered low-fidelity and high-fidelity and who will handle each type of alert. Many SOCs employ tiered staffing frameworks to establish clear responsibilities and hierarchies for this process. A SOC team should also have a dedicated threat hunter who can use penetration testing and other analytical skills to search out new attacks, or emerging threats that automated security tools might overlook.